Princess Peach: Showtime! review – All show

We had a very odd experience playing through Princess Peach: Showtime!. As stages came and went we realised that what was happening on the screen was fantastic with lovely visuals, a great score and homages aplenty to the movies and shows to mirror the theatre setting of the game.

The swings this game takes usually lands and its scope is bigger than any stage. Despite all this, however, we weren’t really having much fun.

But as always we need to backtrack and look at the bigger picture. Princess Peach: Showtime! is the latest first party title from Nintendo and it switches out the familiar plumbing brothers with the Princess Peach in her solo adventure.

Well solo only for a few minutes into the opening. After a big bad named Grape (yes, really) and her henchmen, the Sour Bunch (yes, really) take over a theatre that Peach is attending, the princess is joined by a magical, living ribbon named Stella.

Like Cappy in Super Mario Odyssey, Stella can give Peach the powers of other characters in the form of costumes which transform Peach into a variety of different archetypes with different powers.

These transformations are a big part of the show so we won’t mention them by name or give any examples, but as you can see from the iconography of the game, it borrows from the many decades of TV, movies and, of course, the theatre.

Each level of the game takes the form of a short play which needs to be completed using an appropriate transformation which is either new for this play or introduced in a previous one. Players don’t get to choose the transformation as the play is entirely based around it. More on that later.

In these plays, players can do the bare minimum to succeed, but they are also encouraged to scour for collectibles and see hidden parts off the beaten path.

The visuals in Showtime! are absolutely sublime. Everything is not only appropriately charming and cartoonish, but there’s also a layer of unreality due to the fact that this is all supposed to be a play. Many large enemies are made of cardboard, flying characters have visible strings leading into the rafters and spotlights dart across the stage to highlight Peach and important parts of the performance.

The music really helps with this illusion and it too is a real joy that helps sell this idea.

There are so many cool moments and pastiches to the history of entertainment that we’re bursting to tell you about but we can’t, both because our reviews are spoiler-free, and we think we’d be doing a disservice to experiencing them yourself.

With all this positivity welling up in our game, it was burst by the the fact that this game is just shallow. There’s no way around it. No matter the transformation you have equipped or the bombastic nature of the play, the entirety of Showtime! boils down to hitting A (to jump) and B (for just about everything else). Absolutely all transformations and game mechanics are handled with just two buttons and you’re left mindlessly hitting one or the other for hours.

Sure there is the movement and the fact that you can use the shoulder buttons to take a bow and access hidden areas, but this doesn’t touch sides.

We already mentioned Super Mario Odyssey in the fact that Stella reminds us of Cappy, but we have to bring this game up again here. The real magic of Super Mario Odyssey is that it’s essentially two games layered on top of each other: one is a simple, family-friendly 3D platformer that just about anyone can finish, while the other is a super hard platform puzzle experience that demands precise timing and mastery of the controls.

The magic of this magic is that these two “layers” don’t exist as separate entities, instead being blended depending on the skill of the player. At any time an unskilled player can dedicate themselves to a complex move to get to a difficult reward, or a skilled player can breeze through the level and enjoy the more surface level affair. This dual nature of Odyssey not only gives it an insane amount of depth, but also begs to be replayed.

Showtime!, on the other hand, only has that super easy, surface-level layer. It seems that so much time, love and care went into presentation and gameplay was level to wither and die on the vine.

On top of the frustration of wasted potential, and the potential waste of your time, we can see so many ways things could have improved. Why couldn’t a second player, or one player using gyro controls, take control of Stella to affect the stage with magic? Or maybe the stage spotlight could have been used to reveal secrets, weaken enemies or buff Peach. We know many people dislike the pointer / star controls in the original Super Mario Galaxy, but controlling Stella or the Spotlight like this would have been a welcome addition.

We also can’t help but feel limited by not able to choose what transformations to use. We understand that each stage is inherently made to use just one transformation, but this adds to the feeling of constriction and lack of interaction in Showtime!.

Even if everything in this game was kept the same, but the transformations were given slightly more complex movesets so players could pull off combos, it would have improved things immensely.

All this good and bad really tears at the minute to minute enjoyment of Showtime! or the lack thereof. The structure of the plays does at least mean a decent amount of variety and the short length of each results in a lack of frustration if you really dislike certain transformations.

Princess Peach: Showtime! looks and sounds amazing and its dedication to outlandish spectacle is perfectly matched to its theatrical setting. Unfortunately the shallow gameplay will leave you feeling unfulfilled after the curtains close. There’s so much potential for what this game is trying to do so maybe a Showtime! 2 in a few years – and on a new Nintendo console – could make a name for itself, but this first outing is only a decent showing and not a must play.

Before we sign off this is a reminder that there’s a free demo for Princess Peach: Showtime! that was released earlier this month, so you can experience the game yourself without spending a cent. Navigate to the game’s eShop page to find the option to download the demo.

We have to commend Nintendo here as demos are a rare breed, especially for large developers and publishers. Usually only indie titles and those trying to capitalise on the Steam Next Fest will bother to put a demo together.

We’re of the firm belief that demos sell games so, again, give the Showtime! demo a try no matter your outside impressions of this game.



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