Monday, February 12, 2007

Past-Due Review: Super Princess Peach (DS)

When it comes to Super Princess Peach for the Nintendo DS, I have just four words to say to naysayers who have yet to play the game: Don't believe the hate.

That's not to say the game is perfect (or even great, for that matter). But the first game starring Mario's main squeeze is far from a bad game, either. In fact, it's quite a solid entry into the Japanese giant's platforming portfolio.

I won't bore you with the details surrounding Peach's foray into the two-dimensional world of the gut-wrenchingly named Vibe Island. Suffice it to say there's a quirky backstory that supports her quest to save Mario, though it's as threadbare as a 5-year-old's binky.

It's what happens after you skip by the story sequences that matters, right? And that's where Peach shows what's beneath her ruffled skirt (you know what I mean--I think).

For the most part, Super Princess Peach is as tight and solid as any Mario, Wario or Yoshi game on the market. She animates well, handles well and has quite the repertoire of moves (many of which involve her peppy parasol, while the rest involve her super-power emotions).

Unfortunately, most of those moves are negated by the fact that every character, save the end-of-level bosses, can be killed with a simple whack of Peach's umbrella. You heard it: every single one. I know the game is aimed at prepubescent, game-phobic girls, but couldn't the developers have put all of their creativity to better use? We get some of the same great abilities seen in Yoshi platformers (floating, ground pounding, enemy inhaling) but there's nothing to do with them.

That faux-Mario feeling rears its ugly head again while contemplating the game's appearance. Peach, her enemies and her surroundings all are suitably cute and colorful. Some are even downright pretty--and the bosses are impressively drawn and animated to boot. Yet overall the game seems a bit bland or watered down compared to Nintendo's other side-scrolling offerings like New Super Mario Bros. and Yoshi's Island DS. Still, it's far from ugly and at worst can be called "clean and cartoonish."

If that sounds like something you can stomach, take the above review as the push you need to go pick up a copy of the game. If a tight and competent (if not altogether amazing) platformer starring Mario's muse sounds like a nightmare come to life, safe your hard-earned bucks for something a bit more manly.

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