I've been playing a lot of platformers lately--in preparation of the November 15th release of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Sadly, I don't have many platformers for the Wii (just Lost Winds, really), so I've been playing them on my trusty DS. Which ones? Well, New Super Mario Bros., of course, but also a bit of Yoshi's Island DS. Oh, and a game no straight male gamer (and few gay gamers of either gender, I'm guessing) will admit to owning, Super Princess Peach.
Actually, I shouldn't be so hard on Super Princess Peach--it really isn't a bad game. In fact, if you can get over just how cute it is, it could be considered a pretty good game. What keeps it from being a good or even a great game, you ask? It's just too easy. (And when I say easy, I mean it. So many enemies can be disposed of with a single "bop!" of Peach's parasol that after a while you start to wonder why they're even in the game.)
I have a feeling if you posed that question to game designer Gonzalo Frasca, he'd provide you with a much different answer. I don't say that because I'm well acquainted with Frasca (I wish!), but because I recently stumbled upon an article he wrote (some time ago for SeriousGamesSource.com) about the sexism on display in this Tose-developed title.
"On the one hand," he writes, "it is a blessing to find a game targeted at girls that is also top quality on a technical level: they are not that common. Additionally, it is good to see how the Princess switches roles with the male heroes after so many years of mainly being a decorative element in the series. What is shocking is that from all the possible design options available, the creators of this game had to frame the princess as an emotionally unstable person."
"I am not necessarily suggesting that Peach should go join Lara Croft’s women liberation army, burn her bra and buy an M-16," Frasca adds near the end of the article. "But at the very least, Peach should be allowed to have some fun without being portrayed as a mood swinger."