444 reviews liked by CarnivalKing

Pizza Tower was my favorite game of 2023. An extremely fun platformer that brilliantly combined the speed of Sonic the Hedgehog with transformations that constantly turned the gameplay on its head. I saw so little room for improvement that I assumed the developers would immediately move on to a new project.

Enter the Noise Update. The premise is identical to the Plague of Shadows expansion in Shovel Knight. You play as one of the game’s villains going through the same levels, but with a completely different moveset to provide a fresh experience. I did like this a lot more than Plague of Shadows, however, and that’s because the levels feel like they actually accomodate the moveset despite minimal changes from the base game, if at all. Rather than trying to completely change the controls, Tour de Pizza made subtle changes that often made these levels MORE fun.

The first of these changes is the wall bounce. When you grabbed a wall as Peppino, he would stick to it and start running upwards. He could jump off the wall, but his speed was reduced while in the air. With The Noise, it’s the opposite. He will bounce upwards when hitting a wall and can keep grabbing it to get some extra height, but doing so gradually slows him down. Therefore, it’s good to use his powerful slam and uppercut abilities just before losing all of his speed to maximize height. Mostly though, the bounce will be used for a quick turnaround to grab another wall or landing on a slightly-out-of-reach platform while preserving air momentum. The new tornado spin made downward movement much more fun than the standard ground-pound since you can also move horizontally to wipe out defenseless enemies and preserve even more speed. The super jump was also tweaked so that it can be activated from a standstill. All of these changes result in a loose control scheme that allows The Noise to hold onto his speed in more situations than the already-agile Peppino ever could.

That alone deserves tremendous praise, but Tour de Pizza also found time to remix most of the transformations, adding a neat spin to their respective levels. Some of them had me in hysterics like the Noise eating a rocket to fly, rolling up steep walls without stopping while in a barrel, and devouring a pepper pizza at the start of RRF to make the level easier. He should be in prison for his animal abuse though. Poor Mort. :(

If Peppino was learning how to control a car, then the Noise is learning how to control a skateboard. I suck at skateboarding. Getting most of the P-ranks with Peppino was hard enough, but you have to be a legend to P-rank everything with the Noise! I will not be doing that in the forseeable future due to a few levels that I disliked regardless of character choice, but what I will do is retroactively raise my score of Pizza Tower. The level secrets do not bother me anymore, and I can confidently say this is a GOAT platformer for me.

I have no idea if Tour de Pizza plans to add more content, but if so, I would love them to take the Shovel Knight approach and create new levels based around a different character. Yes, I am seriously suggesting Pizza Tower could be the next Shovel Knight. That’s for the devs to decide, however. If they are content to stop here, I will respect that. They have created a platforming masterpiece.

I am really disappointed you can't have sex with rabbids.

Finally, finally after so many years of wanting to play it and coming very close to purchasing a 300 dollar gamecube copy out of desperation I finally get to experience the game people have been swooning over since I can remember. I finally get to have so many questions answered. Is it one of the best games ever? Does it lord over the trilogy as the highest peak, is it better than my beloved Super Paper Mario?

As a new thing I wanted to try, I kept a little journal of my thoughts per chapter and had the idea to review each part episodically with a closing statement on my final thoughts on the game. This was a terrible idea as I write way too much, and feel too bad erasing huge chunks of my work. So without further ado: one of the longest reviews I've ever had to write and edit for everyone's darling Thousand Year Door.

☆Chapter 1☆

This first chapter is a really good depiction of what to expect from ttyd and starts off very strongly with multiple genre-breaking gags to subvert the very conventional story setup with Hooktail. The toad kid talking about various Nintendo games, the game show thwomp that replaces the position of a miniboss. A chest that gives you a powerup but still dresses it as a curse which is deifnitley the best running joke in the game. Hooktail herself being defeated in a few turns because your hammer is making frog sounds. Its undiluted Paper Mario essence at its finest. Petalburg is a really soft and charming place but Koops is probably the least utilized companion, I immediately switched back to Goombella after the chapter was over because I love her and comparatively Koops seems to get kind of sidelined both gameplay-wise and in terms of an active story role. In contrast to her precdessor Goombario, Goombella to me seems like the primary party member along with Vivian; shes sassy and smart and supportive and kind of steals the show in my eyes. After chapter 1 ends we get our first actual star power that isnt ol' reliable shit fuck Sweet Treat and then its on to:

☆Chapter 2☆

BOGGLY WOODS!! I've seen this area plently of times before in screenshots, but the way it looks completely floored me in the remake. The black and white trees contrasting beautifully with the oil spill colored vines on the floor, its all shiny and pretty like black lacquer. The music playing in the background sings ethereal and calm. A stand out area for me of the whole game, plus it has PUNIES!! Oh, I love them so much. Leading 101 of them through the Great Tree had me smiling so wide. They get trapped in little bubbles! They learn the power of union! Every interaction I had with the sage puni and the puni siblings reinforced them as my favorite non-recruitable characters.
Flurrie is the companion that joins in this chapter and I like her a lot. She has a very large and caring presence which fits in line with her past stage life. She also likes squishy, silly punies so we have a lot in common. Unfortunately I never did use her much outside of mandatory puzzles, but its okay because Koops got used way less.

☆Chapter 3☆

Glitzville! The Glitz Pit! I have a feeling this is a lot of people's favorite chapter and for obvious reasons. The unconventional story structure is very cool with there being no random fights at all, instead duking it out in a wrestling arena for a shot at championship. After each fight you get a break and here it hit me just how much dialogue there was in the game because all conversations in the area change completely after almost every match. Theres a lot of events in-between fights to give the player a break and I appreciated that because I get tired of fighting pretty fast. Unravelling the conspiracy of the Glitz Pit and sneaking around was so much fun. I love old fashioned wrestling so this chapter was very charming for me. After saving his egg from becoming a hot dog or something Yoshi Kid is born, Mario is his dad and Glitzville his country. I was really happy being introduced to this guy, I think its because the process of meeting him and his connection with Mario is very different than the rest of the party who get together by chance. I feel really attached to this guy and I feel bad riding him because he is so small, but I must because Mario is so fucking slow. Jolene is also really cool- the little tidbits of information about Prince Mush throughout the game made their reunion really sweet. This area is very, very good and stands out a lot for being so different than what one would expect.

☆Chapter 4☆

Twilight Town, like Boggly Woods, is also incredibly gorgeous and uses its color and textures well. The design on the big moon and the palette of the woods is so pretty, mesmerizing. Everyones turning into pigs. That's Mario's least favorite animal so he goes off into the forest to help stop it. I only knew this as the Vivian chapter and I was really excited to meet her, so the chapter end fakeout got me. I thought my game crashed and I was actually gonna reboot it before I hit A on accident- which is when shadow Mario gets up and the actual premise of this segment is revealed. Im so happy I didnt know about this part because nearly every other major occurance in ttyd has been spoiled for me throughout the years, it was nice being shocked for once. The way they constantly change and subvert their own formula is so incredibly clever to me, nothing else really holds a candle to the constant creativity these chapters show. Anyway- we meet Vivian who is looking for a bomb in the bushes. I wish we could have shown her more kindness than some basic decency, but she tags along to help Mario anyways. Doopliss wants his name back so you have to treck back (again) to Creepy Steeple. I hate Creepy Steeple. Getting there is hard, leaving is hard, I know theres a pipe but I didnt find it till later. Creepy Steeple is nothing but dark and annoying and I got stuck in a room for 20 minutes because there was like, no way for the player to see the hole in the wall going into the parrot room. I guess the implication was that light is supposed to be shining out from under the gap but how was I going to know- Mario was 10 yards away and stuck behind some bars. Obtain letter P, return to Doopliss and say hes Doopliss. Go back, again, to your favorite place Creepy Steeple and walk alll the way up back to his room AGAIN. Though I dont like this dungeon, this guy is my favorite antagonist- and how could he not be with such a fashionable hat. The Doopliss fight with all your companions working against you and Vivian's story beats are really cool, and then she officially joins the party! I had her by my side for most of the game- shes very powerful fully upgraded and has a lot of relation to the main events so it felt right to have her out.

☆Chapter 5☆
Chapter 5.... was..... uh........ Keelhaul Key... aw fuck I have to open the game and check.

Chapter 5 is the premiere of the unforgettable and culturally significant Keelhaul Key, which I remember clearly. I dont know how to properly describe this, but I noticed that ttyd has a very fluid way of managing its world. Everything seems to intersect and even random npc characters will remark on the latest happenings in Mario's adventure. Flavio looked very unique so I knew he would be a part in the story at some point, but I noticed here that the bob-omb at the counter had a progressing train of dialouge which converged with the mature toad lady character in Glitzville. Everything in this game is so alive and so smart, anyways... meeting with Bobbery had me getting misty eyed. Ttyd has no problem moving between really silly moments and touching story beats, which is something a lot of games that replicate Paper Mario struggle with. Keelhaul Key itself is a fun misadventure I suppose... I hated the backtracking though, god there is so much backtracking in this game, its insane. I fought so many fuzzies.... Pirate's Bay was not much better at all. I didnt really like this area, slow and dense. Cortez and the X-Naut showoff were the best things to come out of the chapter.

☆Chapter 6☆

The Excess Express...much like Glitzville in chapter 3, this segment subverts the typical story structure except it removes virtually all battles. Instead, Mario and co. take on detective work aboard an ongoing train and then platform a little in Poshley Heights with no final boss to defeat. I love this chapter. The atmosphere is immaculate. Getting to know all the passengers over the course of 3 days and solving their troubles turned it into a different sort of game for a bit. It was a very smart decision to not have any random encounters for the majority of the chapter because the mood of the Excess Express is very impressionable. Walking through the train at dusk and seeing the remaining sun shining through the windows, with that song playing in the background... its one of those Nintendo moments that I'm sure imprinted itself heavily on the people who played this as kids. The detective side of the chapter is very fun, and I enjoy how much it encourages you to interact with the people on the train as it builds your relationship to them in a unique way that isnt purely focused on rescuing them. Arriving at Poshley Heights, the area isnt that huge or noteworthy because the focus is on the train- but the Sanctum that holds the crystal star was near mythical. I just assumed we would have to fight Beldam and her sister and her not-sister Doopliss, but after their departure instead it leads you on into a mirror image of the Sanctum. Entering, its all light blues and soft light with the saddest most evocative piece of compositional music playing in the background. It was a very unexpected moment, I think I audibly said 'woah'. I dont know if it was intentional how strangely moving the Inner Sanctum was, but climbing up the sides of the building with the pretty lights and taking in that song was so peaceful and nice. Such a fitting end for a mostly nonconfrontational chapter.

☆Chapter 7☆

By this point, after completing every bulliten quest avaliable to me I had already figured out that backtracking was ttyd's best friend forever but I didnt think they would seriously make me go back and forth between Fahr Outpost and every other area I've been to so much. It would be comical if they hadnt made me to go Hooktail Castle 3 separate times, so I was feeling very bitter at this point when I had to walk around for no reason. Fahr Outpost itself is a military base which instills dread and isnt a lot to be remarked on, which is kind of a shame because Paper Mario's snow areas are very pretty. Getting shot to the moon also would have surprised me but I spoiled myself the day before looking on a wiki page for how to make ruin powder. The moon... is very slow. The encounters on the moon arent that fun but you're not expected to be there for long. The X-Naut building... also is not very fun. The keycard shenanigans were tedious and I resigned myself to looking at a guide to figure out where they were. Just a lot of little time wasters here... and a lot platforming. More on that and TEC later but I absolutely hate this game's jump when its used for platforming, its short and heavy and shitty and clearly wasnt made for precise-ish movements.
Fighting that robot was okay. Walking through the halls with the all the lights shut off after TEC's final message was what I'll remember most from the moon, though.

☆Chapter 8☆

The Palace of Shadows is another area in the remake that I had to stop and take in because it really does look absolutely beautiful and grand. The trek through the palace is very long and kind of arduous with the many puzzles and no item shops. The star tower near the end of the chapter made use of riddles and was very fun to figure out, though once again Koops was left unused in a location that utilized nearly every other companion (sorry, man). The small miniboss fight with Beldam and her new family left me a little dissapointed because Vivian didnt really have a lot to say, and I was hoping punching her sister in the hat would have given her some closure. Moving on to the next room, the fight with Grodus is really exciting but you get a sense of how powerless and kind of incompetent Peach is here. In Paper Mario n64 she's trapped on a floating castle, so theres not much she can do. Here though, shes just sleeping and weak and isnt shown even trying to break the force field bubble shes in. Im assuming Grodus gave her a concussion or something but when she gets possessed by the Shadow Queen she's not even bound, just collapsed on the floor though after the fight Goombella says shes not even hurt so why're you nappin lady?? Im getting a bit ahead of myself though, because as Grodus threatens to end Peach as a means to get Mario to stop hitting him over the head with a hammer, BOWSER appears and crushes that guy with his mighty and toned koopa body. This fight was a fun reprieve from the harshness of the rest of the palace though its unlikely you would die even if you took a few hits fighting Grodus.

Going into the basement to fight the final boss, I noticed a huge issue. There was not a pipe leading back to Rougeport in sight. I didnt have any healing items at all, but I really didnt want to make the 40 minute dash to town and back so I opted to rely on Sweet Feast instead and went into battle. The Shadow Queen is a very threatening figure compared to what Mario games had seen up until that point. The cutscene where her hands are creeping up the sides of the various buildings above ground probably would of made me cry when I was younger. Her spirit design channels a sense of fear and otherworldliness that I really enjoy. She also mentions slaves? Which means that, at the very least, the concept of slavery exists in the Super Mario world officially. Phase one of her boss fight wasnt too rough for me, I got a soft stomp on her so I managed to widdle her down pretty fast. I was mostly worried, when she invoked her spirit form, that I was going to have to do some stupid shit like from that point on she could only be damaged by Supernova, but mercifully that was not the case. As Mario is left struggling and the crystal stars fly off, the upcoming cutscene had me absolutely bawling. Im always very touched when stories end with every friend you've ever met coming together to believe in you and rally you on. Its so sad and heartwarming every time.... even Peach gathers her last bit of strength to give to Mario though she didnt seem to have any passed out on the floor moments prior. I was feeling absolutely pumped- the danger of complete global annihilation felt so real and I was completely into it, no way I was going to let anything happen to these people!! I was in tears, Punio believes in me!! I CANT let him down!

I died!

She had like 30 health left and I fucking died. It became impossible to recover the amount of health I was losing with only Sweet Treat/Feast and I had no items at all. A lot of people say that this is baby's first rpg- and I know theres probably a badge combination that makes things easier, but what the hell. The Shadow Queen is one of the hardest bosses I think I've ever fought. And I was really, really pissed because that emotional buildup was something else and it just completely evaporates upon dying. It doesnt feel half as special or urgent when you've already seen it before... also "try again"? I thought it'd just restart that phase but it put me back to entering the room which is pointless.
I buckled down to spend the next hour of my life trying to remember how to leave the building for items but then, and only after I had reloaded the game, did a pipe appear that lead to Rougeport. Why it isnt just there from the get go is beyond me, but I just got more pissed cause if I had access to that earlier that really sweet emotional moment wouldnt of been trounced for me.
Despite having healing items this fight was still incredibly hard and I barely beat it with both companion and Mario at 10 hp. The final moments of ttyd are bittersweet as we have to say goodbye to Rougeport and Mario fails to deliver TEC's final message to Peach because they both seemingly forgot. Though I didnt want this one to end so soon, the credits roll. The book closes, and that was The Thousand Year Door! Before I close with my general thoughts, I have something written for the Peach & Bowser intermissions:


Peach and TEC initially felt to me like a demo reel for Blumiere and Tippi, but as time went on I felt really endeared toward the computer. TEC never tries to win Peach over or actively seduce her, which would be uncomfortable since shes stuck in a room with them. TEC is curious about their newfound feelings and this leads them to a sort of solace as they resolve to get her off the space station. I really like the solemn acceptance TEC goes through, never wanting Peach to stay or enter a relationship with it, settling into peace with the feelings it has found. Peach, on the other hand, despite having a role and doing things somehow feels like she doesnt have a scrap of autonomy in anything that goes down. Her email information doesnt really help at all except for the final message she sends. Out of a very creative game, these segments are probably the most typical things we see.

The Bowser intermissions also kind of only exist to jusitify his appearance in the ending, he really didnt have to be here but it was pretty funny and I'd rather be watching him get up to shenanigans than spend 30 minutes failing to make a potion with Peach

And thats it! All my thoughts on The Thousand Year Door. So the question remains: is this one of the best games ever? Does it really beat my favorite entry in the series, Super Paper Mario?
For starters, I can really understand why so many people are so fond of this game. It is incredibly special in both its gameplay aspects and its continually evolving creativity, it is a game that was created out of pure love for everything Paper Mario is and you can clearly tell by how often they remember and cherish their previous installment and continue to evolve from it.
Theres a few things I really dont like about this game, though. For one, I was constantly lost. Someone of my age really shouldnt have problems getting around in a Mario game but if Goombella didnt tell me exactly what was up I never knew what to do or where to go. Instruction and direction felt incredibly vauge at times, depth perception and lighting were definitely contributing factors to the aimlessness I felt. Speaking of depth perception, this game likes to pretend that its a platformer quite a bit when its clearly not made for that at all. The jumping feels bad and it loses all momentum when you let go of the c-stick. The mechanical room and the x-naut fortress are two areas that just suck so much because of this when it really didnt need to be included. Also, I said this before but ttyd loves making you go back to really inconvenient places again and again, almost every bulletin quest is like this and after the 20th visit back to Hooktail, it gets very tiring.
With all that though, I still really enjoyed my first experience playing ttyd in this new and improved form. I wanted to keep seeing more, even if it was doing something tedious and repetitive. It made me laugh and smile and cry... but not as much as spm so I still love that one the most. Its a very special game with a very special place in a lot of people's hearts, and I'm very glad it got the remake it deserved.
And now... I rest, wistfully stroking my copy of spm, feeling in my chest the sad truth that it will never be gifted the same attention.

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But in this case it's not because of the premise - the game really does let you spawn basically anything you can think of outside of swear words and other vulgar things. It's still a Nintendo DS game where you can make God fight Cthulu though which is kind of crazy.

There's a good amount of easter eggs between item interactions too. Plus references in level set-ups, like the one designed after Pac-Man, with moth balls in place of the usual dots, and generic ghosts to run from.

What's "too good to be true" in this case is the game built around the concept. The game is split into puzzle levels and action levels. The puzzle levels require you to spawn specific items or complete a task in order to spawn the starite. Action levels have the starite in the open and have to be navigated to somehow. Though there is some overlap - a lot of action levels are basically puzzles and vice versa.

The issue comes in how repetitive many of these stages can get. For example, one level had me saving a lamb and getting it to its mother, and between them was a wolf. In my case I used a helicopter, spawned some rope to attach the lamb to the helicopter and flew past the wolf. Then in the same "world" or whatever a set of levels is called, I had a mission to get a penguin to safety over a pool of water with a whale in it. I just used the literal exact same solution.

I get that the games whole schtick is that many levels can be completed in many ways, but it's way too easy in this game to fall back on tricks you know work due to how many times the devs seemed to put the same basic problems. So, so many of the action levels are just obstacle courses with things you need to kill, which sure can be done in so many ways, but eventually you get bored of experimenting and just spawn the same overpowered creature. You stop thinking of ways to fly and just spawn the same jetpack or pterodactyl. Thinking of spawning the sun to light up a pitch black level is pretty fun the first time - not so much the next 10 times. It got so repetitive that by the end for the action levels I was using a certain glitch involving a vending machine and handcuffs to skip most of the levels.

Way too many levels come down to "Kill thing" "Find a way to fly" and "Find a way to swim underwater".

The game doesn't really do much to encourage you to experiment either. Playing a level once beaten does have a challenge mode where you need to beat the level 3 times in a row using different words, but even this has issues. For one thing, the first of those 3 times can just be the exact same solution as the original completion of the level. Secondly, the game doesn't really care about using synonyms - you can use "cop", "police" and "policeman" as different words. And lastly, because of the repetitiveness of the missions, this method doesn't necessarily require you to think up lots of different solutions, but 3 solutions that will apply to a huge chunk of levels. Basically just falling in to the exact same trap as playing the levels once, but taking longer to do so.

Oh and the game also controls like poopy. It's purely stylus controls which means you're so often moving when you meant to click an object, accidently jumping off cliffs, accidently unequipping something and so on. Apparently there was a re-release that switched to button controls but I didn't play that one. Luckily it was also changed to button controls in all future games, so I definitely wanna try that out. Maybe if the game was more fun to control I wouldn't feel the need to rush through all the later levels.

I really give props to the devs for the huge amount of effort gone in to this, it's just that I don't find the game that fun to really complete. They could have cut down half of these levels easily and lost nothing.

What a disappointment for a game I was hoping could at least be passable. I should have expected this, and I partially did, but wow.

Cosmic Shake claims to be the sequel to Battle For Bikini Bottom, but it's not the sequel to that beloved classic from our childhood, no it's for the overly saturated slow and clunky remake we got a few years ago. 3 years later and we not only have the same bugs and glitches but completely new ones to this game. You're not supposed to go backwards like that! It honestly just reeks of a strained budget and a team who doesn't know what they are doing at this point, which seems to be a thing with most modern Nickelodeon games.

Gameplay is...there? Yeah you platform across big levels, but there is just this emptiness that exists in each area. What made BFBB so much of a joy is that while there was a main objective to each area, there were still side objectives and goodies to find that were mandatory to beat the game, incentivizing exploration. Here it's just jellies and doubloons which are only used for an optional costume shop. Without the incentive of primary (golden spatulas, goober tokens) or secondary (socks, extras) collectables and all we have are the tertiary ones, there just feels like there is no point to going around looking for secrets or doing anything but the main objective. So you are just left in large linear areas with the most forgettable music of all time and nothing to do besides barebones platforming and combat that was nerfed from BFBB. Yeah let's get into the combat...

There are now set action scenes that require you to fight enemies to progress. Sure that's fine, but the issue lies when the enemies in this game are not fun to fight. They're all loosely based off robots from BFBB, but they just feel worst to fight. The duplicatotron expy has 3 hit points and between each hit has an aoe unblockable stun attack, or the giant beefcakes who can't be damaged until they just conveniently do that one attack that makes them able to take damage, who also have 3 hp. It makes combat a slog when it was very snappy in other Spongebob games, not just BFBB or Movie but like Creature as well. Sure, you unlock new abilities in each level, but they all feel clunky to use like nearly everything else in this game.

This show also has that modern Spongebob folly to never stand on its own two feet and must rely on stuff from the show to keep going. While I understand it's cool to have references in a license game, I loved when BFBB did that, it is just so ham fisted that nearly everything in this game was "LOOK AT THE THING! ITS THE THING FROM THE SHOW/BFBB!!!!!" and it feels like this game barely has an identity to stand on. I think the trailers mainly using Band Geeks music as well as showing off all the costumes from other episodes really shows how little creativity went into this game. It hopes you cling onto your nostalgia the entire time without any substance.

Oh yeah speaking of those costumes, fun fact. This game came with a day 1 DLC for all the costumes you would most likely want that were shown in trailers mind you. Kind of fucked to see that you can play as spongegar in the trailers and then realize hes locked behind a $10 paywall. I know it's not important but this kind of backhanded marketing kind of fucked me up. Like there is already an in game costume shop but w/e.

I was originally going to give this game a 5/10 / 2.5/5, and in my mind it still is that. That is basically the dead zone of games for me, those that do absolutely nothing and while are technically functional give me nothing to enjoy or even really hate besides a massive blah. That swamp of mediocrity where games are forgotten, the worst fate any media could have. The only reason I gave this game a lower score was mainly because of how much it pisses me off, how the bugs are even more apparent, how there's DLC that isn't needed, how this is supposed to be a sequel to one of my favorite games of all time without knowing what made that game great. It all just breaks my heart and I wish I had bought Pizza Tower or fucking hell even Fire Emblem Engage over this, at least that game would've been funny bad with good gameplay as I've heard.

Do yourself a favor and just play BFBB. The original, the one that's actually good. Or even the movie game, which is a lot better of a sequel despite its flaws.

We owe that IGN guy an apology.

clapped when glovey said cosmic shake

Stray if it was good. This is what happens when you actually stick to a vision instead of blowing your entire budget on Sonymaxxing.

It's a delightful mixture of Untitled Goose Game and Goat Simulator–with a little Breath of the Wild for good measure–wrapped into a delightfully dense, vertical, but manageable open world.

While the controls are a bit janky, it's hard to complain when the game purposefully lacks friction and instead gets by on the strengths of its exploration, tone, and quest design.

Super cute, sometimes funny, and usually pretty wholesome chungus. But this is definitely a game by people who actually understand cats. I remember soyfacing extremely hard when I came across a cucumber, and the cat jumped 16 feet into the air.

It's concise, confident, and a great way to spend an afternoon.

You have chosen to read my Princess Peach: Showtime! review. This is on you, now.

I think it's worth reflecting on how Peach wasn't really even a character in the original Super Mario Bros. She was a destination. The MacGuffin you needed to reach in order to rightfully claim you'd won the game. The idea to expand beyond that in any way was largely an act of convience, as Fuji TV's Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic was rebranded as the second Super Mario game. They needed a roster of four heroes, and there had only been four sentient things in the Mushroom Kingdom that weren't enemies. They took the spritesheet for Lina and drew "The Princess" on top.

I don't point this out to demean or belittle Princess Peach. Far from it. The act of repurposing and rebranding is at the very core of what videogames are. Mario, himself, was the result of seeing what could be done with an unwanted Radar Scope arcade board, and missing out on the opportunity to use Paramount's Popeye characters. OXO, Tennis for Two and Spacewar! were all experiments to see if large-scale supercomputers designed for complex business calculations and global warfare could be used for the purpose of fun. Peach has quite rightly earned the title of Princess of Videogames. A direct descendant of the cathode-ray tube amusement device.

From her first playable appearance in Super Mario Bros. 2, she was treasured by little sisters, cartoon studios, and boys who valued the float-jump more than the societal pressures of homophobia and gender stereotypes. By Mario 64, her significance to the Mushroom Kingdom was fully fleshed-out, positioning the entire game within her castle, and illustrating her unwavering benevolence, ethereal presence, and also, her sense of fun with the introduction of her personally-commissioned Secret Slide. She was a true representative of videogames, and a welcoming presence for audiences who may have felt uninvited to the games gang.

In 2024, I feel Nintendo are more aware of the weight of their history. Back when they last tried this, with 2005's Super Princess Peach, there was an air of carelessness. It was a throwaway game, fobbed off to Chubby Cherub/Shrek: Reekin' Havoc devs, Tose, and launched to a market whose respect for Nintendo had already taken a beaten from the likes of DK: King of Swing, Super Mario Ball and Classic NES Series: Ice Climber. Now, Nintendo treat Peach with due reverence, having her host Universal Studios meet-and-greets in her own personal bandstand, as the highlight of millions of holidays. People are thrilled to meet her, regardless of how much spaghetti she's made for them.

Right now, we're in a very odd period for the Mario brand, overall. Nintendo have embraced the idea that there's no unified vision of what Mario is. In the last year, we've had a mainline 2D entry closely modelled on the art direction of Masanobu Sato, a major Hollywood movie that denied post-1994 backstories and reinstated the NES-era US canon, a remake of a very of-its-time mid-nineties Mario RPG, and the announcement of the remake of a very distinctly eccentric fan-favourite GameCube RPG. Mario has become Mr. Video again, appearing in all sorts of different projects, merely as a comforting presence. He's a doctor and an artist and a kart racer and an umpire and we're not supposed to take any of it very seriously.

The dynamic sits awkwardly in relationship to why New Super Mario Bros. took its iconography so seriously in the first place. Back then, it was a relief to see the series discard all the bullshit and get back on target, reinstating what was Real Mario Shit. Goombas were Goombas again, and if there were any weird offshot baddies, fans would need to adopt such convoluted nomenclature as "Mega Para-Biddybuddies". It felt like the programmers had taken more control, with the world defined by hard parameter references. There's a stiffness to that approach that I have a lot of affection for, and it was the lifeblood of the Wii U era (particularly in Europe and Japan). It brought us closer to the logic of the software, subconsciously making us better equipped to appreciate and understand it. It was fiercely objective. It's easy to see why this approach wouldn't resonate with the wider public, though. If Nintendo wanted to catch on to mainstream appeal, they'd need to foresake the concrete utility of their playing pieces and expand their surface-level appeal. During the promotion of the New Super Mario Bros. sequels, developers explained that Peach hadn't been made playable in the game because of how her float-jump would affect the balance of the level design. In Showtime, she doesn't even have the float-jump.

Ah - Here we are.

I don't really like Princess Peach: Showtime very much.

I could come out with excuses, justifications, characterisation discrepancies... I just think it's boring to play. Levels are formulaic and repetitive, there's little dexterity to its gameplay, the rewards system feels like you're playing the game wrong if you're not constantly digging at the scenery to find every hidden item, performance and presentation is way below where it ought to be for a game with this focus, yada yada yada... I don't think it really matters. I just didn't want to play the game very much. The first couple of days I had it, I was telling myself I was too busy to calm down and enjoy it. I spent multiple days away from it before completion, and only went back to it out of obligation. I really wanted to care less, and not bother coming back.

As much fondness as I may have for the character, I'm clearly not the target audience for this. And I don't mean to imply that it's a game strictly for young girls, either. But it probably is for fans of recent Yoshi games. I'm certainly not one of them. As I dodder around, looking at the nice artwork, but wondering what I'm supposed to be getting out of it. It's a bit of a shock to see Mystical Ninja's Etsunobu Ebisu come back to a directing role to make something so devoid of spark or humour. Though the different costumes grant Peach a range of diverse abilities, the structure of each introductory level is largely the same, and the bulk of her more intricate actions are automated. In a move that recalls Metroid: Other M, all core actions have been distributed between two face buttons, and if there's anything particularly acrobatic or impressive, it doesn't often feel like you were very involved in performing them.

Showtime is fun in theory. The level themes are bold and exciting, Peach's costumes and in-character voice clips are cute, there's a lot of great art and punny design. I saw one review compare it to Kirby and the Forgotten Land and became incensed. That's a game that loves being a game. It celebrates the medium, embraces all the tropes that come with being a platformer, and sets up young audiences to embark on a future, exploring many wonderful videogames. Showtime is like Paper Mario with all the jokes, strategy and compelling gameplay stripped out. It's an RPG without story or combat. If you wanted to dedicate a budget to having a team design a bunch of charming adventures for Princess Peach to go on, I can totally get behind that, but why make this game when your passions and energy were better suited to a series of YouTube shorts, or a pop-up book?

There's definitely things I wanted to like. I felt like I should have liked. There's several parts of the concept that feel like they're paying off on things they established with Peach's character years ago. The fact that Odyssey ended with her setting off to explore the world in a bunch of cute outfits feels like it was leading up to an idea like this. They're making a game with Cowgirl Princess Peach, for god's sake. How haven't I come away raving about it? It's just all so tame. Mermaid Peach sings underwater to guide helpful fish, and that sounds like something I should have adored, but they never take the next logical step with one of those trademark Nintendo Switch vocal themes. Why didn't they want this game to be brilliant?

Something that surprised me is how bothered I was by the stageplay concept. The notion that to some level, this was all pretend. That Peach is taking on the role of a character for each level. Her voice sounds different for a bunch of them. I don't really feel like this is a game about Peach. It's about her playing the part of generic characters. I didn't feel any sense of drama until the very end, when she emerges outside of the Sparkle Theatre, as herself. It was the first thing since the intro that the game was trying to convey as authentic. Maybe if I just believed in the game - like there was a real throughline that meant each level was an important new part of a story - I wouldn't have been so bored with it. You really don't have to do a lot to get me with this stuff. I honestly found myself crying when I first heard Odyssey attempt to finally convey Peach's perspective on her relationship with Mario. Is this what a good story has to offer a game? As it is, it felt like I'd bought a colouring-in book, and for some bizarre reason, it was important that I finish every page.

This is very much a 'me problem'. I hope I've established my criticisms as fiercely subjective. I can see some folk getting a lot out of this. I've heard some say that they loved Yoshi's Woolly World. I certainly don't want to convince Nintendo that people don't like Princess Peach games. It's just that I had to play through Sexy Parodius and Third Strike before I'd gotten through this, just to remind myself that I do enjoy playing videogames.

Nintendo fans have been waiting years and years for Peach to finally get the spotlight starring in her own console game. It's finally here, and was the wait worth it?

Princess Peach Showtime is overwhelmed with spectacle. So much spectacle which unfortunately leaves little room for substance.

The game is pretty much a Action/Adventure in the most restrictive sense, where I'm almost inclined to call it an on-rails game. Coming from the freedom and fun that was Super Mario Bros Wonder, Princess Peach Showtime is the antithesis of that where your hand is held the whole way through and are forced to partake in scripted segment after scripted segment.

Levels are structured like stage plays, each one having their own genre, where in each one Peach gets a cool transformation to suit the genre of the stage play. Cowboy, Ninja, Chef, Mermaid and much more. At a core level, all stages are 2.5D platformers, but some stages gimmick involve more unique gameplay like cooking or singing.

Showtime's biggest strength is in it's subtitle. The game is filled with glits and glamour. So many cool and amazing looking segments, I could swear the game had a bigger budget than Mario Odyessy. Unfortunately most of these cool segments you find in each stage barely qualifies as gameplay and is more of a cutscene where you are lucky if you're even given the opportunity to press a button.

I honestly feel like this game was targeted towards an even younger audience than the typical Mario game for all ages, which is fair, but honestly Peach deserves better.

One top of all of this, the game somehow runs even worse on the Switch than Tears of the Kingdom did which is baffling considering that this is a much smaller game in scope.

Princess Peach Showtime is one of those games I'll play through once and probably never pick up again. Once you've seen everything spectacular about it, there's no reason to go back and experience again as the gameplay itself barely has anything to offer.

It's still a well made game however... maybe this game was not made for me, but something your younger sibling might enjoy.

This is about exactly what you'd expect from a Good Feel game, which is to say an easy game that is mostly style over substance. It's a very charming game and a lot of that is just the fact that it's the second Princess Peach solo game ever, and the first that isn't a wee bit sexist. Seeing her in so many wacky situations and not with Mario or any other major Mario character (aside from Toad shortly) is pretty neat, all the new designs and silly situations are just pretty cool to see especially for Peach.

The game is simple and doesn't feel like stand out amazing but pretty much every power-up is fun. A few of them are very similar ideas but are so bite-sized that you don't really feel it. The only power-up I dreaded seeing again was the detective power-up. The whole game is very easy but you really feel it with the detective power-up because the puzzles are so nothing and simple you don't get much satisfaction from them (says the 23-year-old man playing the game made for 5-year-olds) and they're also just extremely slow compared to the rest of the power-ups. I only really have like 2 major negatives overall. One negative is the performance has very weird hitches, it's not a huge issue because the actual levels are pretty much entirely smooth but very oddly so many starts of cutscenes and especially the loading screens fucking TANK and are at like 3 fps the entire time it's very bizarre. The other negative and the one that actually matters is how the game handles collectibles. It's very anti-QoL in this regard, very similar to older Kirby games in that if you miss a collectible or goal at a specific part of the level or if you fail the little goal or even get pushed into the next screen by accidentally doing the main goal before the bonus goal (which happened to me a lot) you just cannot retry or go back to get that collectible. You also can't just go back to a level, grab the one you missed, and then leave the level to keep it. It's very frustrating getting caught off guard by a new mechanic for an ability and missing out on a gem and just not being able to try and get it again without redoing the entire level and being forced to finish it again. This is totally the kind of game where I'd very much want to 100% each level and get all of the things but I'd pretty consistently miss a single collectible on most levels and I don't have a drive to basically replay the entire game.

Collectible frustrations aside this doesn't feel like a very replayable game, a lot of the joy is that initial surprise and charm of each new level and experience and after that it's just a pretty average game overall. That's not a terrible thing, and like I mentioned at the start it's average Good Feel and just having Peach being the star over like a Yoshi or a Kirby helps it a lot and makes it feel more worthwhile in their catalogue in 2024 at least. Overall fine for a quick one time playthrough but also pretty hard to justify for $60.

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