Tired of Mario saving the Princess? Now the tables have turned and Super Princess Peach has to save Mario, Luigi, and all the Toads from Bowser. Since she won't get a single Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, or any other standard power-up, she must rely on her new semi-intelligent umbrella and four elemental emotions to turn her from an ordinary "Mario, the Princess has been kidnapped again" Princess to a Super Princess.
Peach's four emotions are happy, sad, angry, and calm. Happy allows her to spin and float through the air. Sad makes her cry two huge streams of tears that can be used to grow beanstalks, turn water wells, freeze platforms, and run quickly. Angry surrounds her with fire that she can use to burn bridges, melt ice, defeat enemies, light lanterns and increase her weight temporarily. Calm gradually recovers her hearts.
While the four emotion hearts are well placed on the touch screen for easy reach with your thumbs, this may lead to four greasy spots on the touch screen. The emotions are essentially the elemental powers of wind, water, fire, and life. As Peach uses her emotions, the gauge beneath her hearts decreases. When it runs out, she cannot use her super emotion abilities until she finds a sapphire jewel or eats an enemy to replenish her emotional energy.
Princess Peach isn't the only one emotional after Bowser's attack. Vibe Island is now full of angry and crying Goombas, Koopas, Blurps, and other classic and lesser-known Mario enemies like Torpedo Ted. She'll see several enemies from Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World that have not been in any other game.
Super Princess Peach is in most respects a traditional 2D side scrolling Mario game similar to Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, but without "lives" or standard power-ups. Peach has a few standard Mario moves like stomping on enemies to stun them, breaking blocks with her head, and picking up and throwing items or enemies like in SMB2.
The graphics have a lot of soft colors and interesting shapes similar to Yoshi's Island, but the game plays like smoother version of Super Mario Bros. 2 with a few new gimmicks. It contains the now obligatory health meter in the form of hearts like in SMB2 and The Legend of Zelda games. If Peach falls down a hole she will start back at the last pipe or door she came through. If she loses all her hearts she won't lose any "lives" since she has none to lose, but will instead have to start the level over.
Coins she obtains in her romp through Vibe Island can be used to purchase items and upgrades such as more heart containers, longer emotional outbursts, puzzle pieces, and music. The puzzle games are interesting for a few seconds, but seem added to give SPP more touch screen uses. The music goes well with most of the levels/worlds, but isn't as memorable as tunes that you may have hummed while playing other Mario games.
Peach's new umbrella gives her several unique abilities. Upgrading it will make it more magical. Some of these upgrades are essential and found in the levels where they are needed, but most of them are purchased in Toad's shop with Peach's stash of coins. The umbrella can be used like a sword to strike enemies, or charged to shoot a blast similar to the Master Sword in The Legend of Zelda. Peach can pickup enemies and items up on her head with it. She can duck and hide under it and even eat enemies while underneath to add to her emotion gauge. After jumping, Peach can float until the umbrella turns inside out. She has a ground shaking and enemy stunning butt-stomp that is sometimes needed to shake items down from high places. There are blocks scattered around the island that, when hit, will send her umbrella into a monologue of helpful advice/hints about the area ahead, similar to the speaker boxes in Super Mario World. The umbrella can also transform into a submarine that fires air bubbles when you blow into the microphone.
Each of the eight worlds initially only has six stages. More levels will be available after Bowser and other bosses are defeated. The object of each level is to get to the goal, but each level also has three Toads to rescue, and lots of music boxes, puzzle pieces, and essential power-ups scattered around for Peach to collect.
At the end of each level is a goal that consists of a roulette wheel of spinning items. The item you stop the ring on determines how many coins you get. A star is worth 50 coins and a turnip will only get you one coin.
Each boss level starts out with a sometimes-annoying touch screen level. In these levels you may have to tap hazards like rocks and ghosts before they hit Princess Peach. Some of these pre-boss levels require you to slingshot Peach on trampolines or spin on logs while dodging enemies or arrows. Luckily, you can save after these levels so that you can start at the boss battle and not have to go through the touch screen part again if you fail.
Pressing the L trigger reveals a list of extras. There's a picture book of 89 enemies, three Toad mini games, eight puzzles, 67 sounds and level music, and end of world movies. Pressing the R trigger opens Toad's Shop. He sells power-ups for more heart containers, a longer emotion gauge, more coins, and other things that I can't read. Toad also sells some music notes and puzzle pieces. Pressing Start opens a pause menu that allows you to save or exit the level. If you exit a level after rescuing a Toad you will not have to find that Toad again.
The title screen displays a day or night theme depending on the DS's clock. There are three save slots for which Peach stands on warp pipes like in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe.
If you enjoyed any of Mario's 2D platformers I highly recommend Super Princess Peach. If you didn't, you're probably not reading this anyway.
In the interest of disclosure I'd like say that I wrote this (p)review based on playing the Japanese version of SPP and that I cannot read Japanese. Therefore, names and places I have used may not be correct for any version of the game. In an effort to use the correct names I consulted several translation guides, FAQs, and reviews, but found many discrepancies. Due to this I mostly ignored other sources of information. I found out two things from other sources that I did not know from playing the game. One, Peach can duck and eat enemies to increase the energy in the emotions gauge. Two, in submarine mode the microphone can be used to fire bubbles at enemies and blocks. Both of these pieces of info along with actually being able to read the instruction and hints would have made this game much easier. It took me a while to figure out that anger made Peach heavy and that sadness made her run faster. There were two other areas that remained impassable to me for a long time, but I've spoiled too much already.
According to Nintendo's press website, Super Princess Peach will launch in the United States on 02/27/06.
Review by Luigison