Princess Peach: Showtime! Review – In The Spotlight

Princess Peach: Showtime! Review

Too often, Mario hogs the spotlight. It’s always refreshing to see someone else from the Mushroom Kingdom take center stage. Princess Peach: Showtime! gives the titular princess a chance to shine. For the most part, it’s a pretty enjoyable outing. You’ve got cool outfits, unique powers, and delightful sets on every stage. Not every role is equally fun, of course. Some levels are a miserable slog, while others feel a bit uninspired. But the overall package is an entertaining one.

So what’s the story here? Showtime starts with Peach going to see a live show. Things take a turn for the weird when the stage is invaded by a bunch of sour grapes. Without Peach’s assistance, the show will not go on. The plot is a thin layer scraped atop a stack of loosely connected stages, I paid it little mind. For the most part, the gameplay is where my focus remained. And it’s pretty fun! You’ve got a ton of roles to play, each with their own distinct mechanics. The Swordfighter is combat-focused, while the Detective is purely about mystery-solving. You put on a show as the Mermaid, and you try your level best to make cakes as the Patissiere.

Slight Cookie-Related Trauma

Again, most of the levels are a delight. While you’re moving quickly from genre to genre, the mechanics still feel well-crafted and simple to learn. Even the stealth sections were a pretty good time. I just, I truly hated the baking minigames. Every other section felt more forgiving, more intuitive, and more fun. Showtime turns making pies and cakes into an incredibly stressful, frustrating slog. It’s not so much that these sections are too hard. It’s more that they’re poorly designed. Failure is both punishing and easy, which I have little patience for. Every other section is that much greater by comparison.

Princess Peach: Showtime! Review

Every stage has a few secrets as well, which I appreciate. Seeking out things like outfit upgrades, coins, and hidden sparkle gems is always satisfying. The downside being that you’ve got to run through the stage in its entirety each time. The levels are sort of on rails, a performance that must be fully played out. This makes getting 100% rather time consuming. And of course, playing through the baking stages a second time is agony. If nothing else, you get a second look at the lovely stage designs.

Excellent Set Design

Like any good stage performance, the sets are beautiful. Some rotate to show off a backside, some are built from cardboard, and some seem much more real. Certain props, like the horses, are obviously fake. But they move with all the graceful energy you could ask for. Other little touches include spotlights, curtains, and mechanized platforms. It all comes together to give Showtime that live theatre feel. Even the regular costume changes feel like extensions of the major theme.

Princess Peach: Showtime! Review

Combat is something of a weak point. It’s fine, but the game really shines in other areas. Things like stealth, mystery solving, and baking are all more inspired than the combat. Even if the baking sections are the bane of my personal existence. Fights just feel like set pieces added for the benefit of the audience. You swing a sword or twirl a ribbon, and the enemy is subdued. Gameplay variety is the highlight here, rather than any single element.

A Real Gameplay Buffet

Such is the problem, mechanically speaking. There’s a lot of glitz, glamour, and dazzling displays, to be sure. But there’s no substance to any of these sections. Instead, as the central conceit suggests, this is all cardboard and makeup. While I wish there was more depth to these individual systems, I do like the variety we’re given. Plus, the game does challenge you as you go. The stages may be simple, but they still get tough.

Maybe this comes off as unfocused or contradictory. I had fun, but Showtime failed to hook me somehow. The stage variety is both a weakness and a strength. I like switching between concepts so frequently. But this comes with a cost, namely a depth deficiency. You’ve got tons of mechanics that take no time to learn. Stages oscillate between easy and enraging. There’s a giant list of collectibles that come in exactly two varieties. Even so, the raw concept is still cool. Giving Peach a whole closet full of roles is a great idea, albeit one I wanted more out of. If you give Princess Peach: Showtime! a chance, who knows? You might have a pretty good time.

***A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Great gameplay variety
  • Beautiful set designs
  • Intuitive, approachable controls

The Bad

  • Baking sections are awful
  • Little gameplay depth
  • Combat feels tacked on