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Home / Reviews / Console games / Princess Peach: Showtime! Review – no plumber needed

Princess Peach: Showtime! Review – no plumber needed

Princess Peach’s first solo game in years is a straightforward genre-hopping treat

Princess Peach Showtime review lead

Stuff Verdict

a fairly brief and unchallenging solo outing, but transformations make Princess Peach: Showtime! one that remains fun and fresh throughout.


  • Transformations add a lot of variety
  • Very easy to play, so ideal for younger gamers
  • Imaginative bosses – and refreshingly no Bowser


  • Not one of the Switch’s graphical showcases
  • over a bit too quickly
  • Customisation options aren’t very compelling

Princess Peach has been around for nearly as long as video games have, but hasn’t always had the best time of it. Whenever Mario heads off on another adventure, it’s usually because poor old Peach has been kidnapped again. And while Bowser’s mediocre villainy track record means she probably doesn’t get too worried, it can’t be much fun either. More of a goal than a character in her own right. 

But we appear to be entering a new Peach era. The Mushroom Kingdom’s most famous monarch was as much as an action hero in The Super Mario Bros. Movie as the titular plumber. Anything but a damsel in distress, it’s unlikely Nintendo’s moustachioed mascot would’ve got far without her help. Roll on a year and Peach now stars in her own game (the first since 2005), and neither Mario nor his arch nemesis have been invited.

The big hook here is a magic ribbon Peach can harness to transform into anything from a sword fighter and martial artist, to a mermaid and a particularly efficient pastry chef. In what is increasingly looking like the Nintendo Switch’s swansong year, is Peach’s long overdue solo outing a match for Mario’s many jaunts? 

Life’s a Peach

Peach and her Toad pals were looking forward to a trip to their favourite theatre, but as they arrive it’s taken over by the dastardly Grape and her gang, known as the Sour Bunch – who as far as we can tell, are also grapes. If you were expecting a Princess Peach-led game to have more narrative pull than your average Mario adventure, think again.

It falls to Peach to take the bad-intentioned berries to task, liberating levels (each presented as a stage play) from evil and generally spreading good vibes. This is an unapologetically kid-focused game, and not one that weaves many chucklesome meta gags into its writing like Nintendo’s best games often do. But that’s fine, given the younger audience the game is clearly being aimed at.

I do like the setting, though. While not one of the Switch’s most graphically impressive games (it actually looks disappointingly fuzzy in places), Princess Peach: Showtime!’s theatrical theme allows for lots of variety, so in the space of a few levels Peach might find herself in a western, a whodunit mystery, and under the sea.

Levels are colourful 2.5D affairs that let you wander in and out of the cardboard scenery (an aesthetic Nintendo has perfected at this point) to hunt for collectibles and rescue friendly creatures called Theets, which presumably work in the theatre from their various predicaments at the hands of the Sour Grapes.

Showtime is very straightforward stuff, and in her standard getup the Princess wouldn’t have enough gameplay variety to justify a whole game, but that’s where Stella, the Sparkle Theatre’s guardian, and more importantly her ribbon, come in. 

It’s Peach time

Princess Peach can’t somersault or butt-stomp like Mario; she lacks Donkey Kong’s brute strength; and unlike Kirby, she can’t simply inhale anything that gets in her way. But here she’s able to use the ribbon to perform 10 different transformations. Each is unlocked for the first time a few minutes into a dedicated level, then used again in more challenging stages later on.

As you’d expect, Swordfighter Peach, Kung Fu Peach and Mighty Peach (think Peach as a superhero) are all combat-focused – but you don’t spend the whole game whacking Sour Grapes. Mermaid Peach can sing to conduct the creatures of the sea, while Figure Skater Peach would rather out-skate an enemy than fight them. 

Their varied nature means you’re always doing something different, which elevates Princess Peach: Showtime! above your average platformer. There are some fun chase sequences, and occasionally Showtime! will turn into a 2D fighting game, but it often slows things down too. Patisserie Peach decorates cakes and bakes cookies in a timing-based minigame; Detective Peach solves a museum theft mystery by questioning suspects and studying clues dotted around the scene of the crime. I was less keen on the by-the-numbers stealth levels, but Ninja Peach admittedly does look pretty cool.  

In other games all these different outfits might result in mechanical overload, but Princess Peach: Showtime!’s strength lies in its simplicity. No matter what transformation Peach is donning, activating its unique ability rarely involves more than pressing or holding the B button. The ability to counterattack as the swordfighter adds an extra layer of complexity, but most of the time the B button is all you need to think about – whether you’re throwing a lasso as Cowgirl Peach, hacking terminals as the excellently named Dashing Thief Peach, or throwing buses as Mighty Peach. 

Practise what you Peach

This is a great first Nintendo game for younger players, much like the Kirby series has always been. Levels are snappy and never outstay their welcome, which is ideal for the easily distracted. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing here for older players. There are a number of pretty entertaining bosses, including a chicken that is somehow also a disco ball, and a pretty suave lion that shoots lasers you have to deflect. One stealth-focused boss level even unexpectedly reminded me of a (much more disturbing) sequence with the Scarecrow in Batman: Arkham Asylum

If you’re looking for a challenge, this probably isn’t the game for you. While a few levels tripped me up, I breezed through what is a fairly short campaign. Progress is gated by how many gems you’ve collected, but you’ll get at least half of each level’s offering without trying, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to revisit levels again if you don’t want to.  Most enemies go down with a single flick of Peach’s ribbon, and while you lose coins when you die, it never feels like much of a punishment.  

After you’ve completed a floor you’ll unlock Rehearsals, timed challenge levels in which you must demonstrate your mastery of each transformation without taking a hit. You might have to survive an onslaught of enemies with your sword in hand, or collect diamonds using a glider as the wind tries to knock you off course. Earning gold here isn’t always easy, but we’re not talking post-game Mario hard here. 

Both Peach and Stella can customise their appearance with different ribbon designs by spending in-game currency in a cosmetics shop, but you’re only changing the former’s standard dress pattern. I’d rather have been able to change the designs of the different transformations, as that’s what you’re doing for most of the game. It leaves Princess Peach: Showtime! feeling a little bit slight compared to some of Nintendo’s other titles. Not a phoned-in effort by any means, but not bursting at the seams with stuff to do like your average Mario game either. 

Princess Peach: Showtime! verdict 

As one of Nintendo’s best ever consoles winds down, it’s great to see Peach doing the saving for once, and some of the transformations are fun enough to make Mario jealous. Whether Princess Peach: Showtime! needed to be so beginner-friendly will depend on the age of the Nintendo fan you ask, but there aren’t many games of this quality that cater to a younger audience these days, so I’m all for it. 

The transformation mechanic lets Princess Peach: Showtime! be a bit of a genre-hopper, so it’s easy to forgive the fairly basic platforming. The game consistently surprised me with its variety, and while I like my Nintendo games to have a bit more personality and humour, this one still raised a smile on more than one occasion. 

If you’re looking to introduce a child to the world of Nintendo, Princess Peach: Showtime! would be a game I’d recommend in the same breath as Kirby and the Forgotten Land, even if it never quite reaches the heights of the pink puffball’s debut 3D outing. And if you’re a longtime Peach fan who’s been waiting for her to get a game of her own worth mentioning, rest assured that with a sword in her hand, Bowser should probably think twice next time.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

a fairly brief and unchallenging solo outing for Princess Peach, but thanks to the transformations it’s one that remains fun and fresh throughout.


Transformations add a lot of variety

Very easy to play, so ideal for younger gamers

Imaginative bosses – and refreshingly no Bowser


Not one of the Switch’s graphical showcases

over a bit too quickly

Customisation options aren’t very compelling

Profile image of Matt Tate Matt Tate Contributor


I'm fascinated by all things tech, but if you were going to leave me on a desert island, I'd probably ask for my Nintendo Switch, a drone, and a pair of noise-cancelling cans to block out the relentless seagull racket. When I'm not on Stuff duty you'll probably find me subscribing to too many podcasts, playing too many video games, or telling anyone who will listen that Spurs are going to win a trophy this season.

Areas of expertise

Video games, VR, smartwatches, headphones, smart speakers, bizarre Kickstarter campaigns