Princess Peach

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Princess Peach
Mario character
Promotional art of Princess Peach
First gameSuper Mario Bros. (1985)
Created byShigeru Miyamoto
Designed by
Voiced by
Language-neutral
  • Leslie Swan (1996–1997, 2004, 2007)
  • Asako Kōzuki (1996–2001)
  • Jen Taylor (1999–2007)
  • Jessica Chisum (1999)[1]
  • Nicole Mills (2005–2007)
  • Samantha Kelly (2007–present)
  • Hiroko Taniyama ("Go Go Mario!!")[6][7][8]
  • Mami Yamase (Super Mario Bros.: Peach-Hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen!)
  • Miyako Endō (Amada Anime Series: Super Mario Bros.)
  • Yuriko Yamamoto (Super Mario World: Mario to Yoshi no Bōken Land)
  • Mariko Mukai (Satellaview series)
  • Arisa Shida (2023 film)[9]

Princess Peach[a] is a character in Nintendo's Mario franchise. She was created by Shigeru Miyamoto and introduced in the 1985 original Super Mario Bros. installment as Princess Toadstool. She is the princess regnant and head of state of the Mushroom Kingdom, where she resides in her castle along with Toads. Since her debut, she has appeared in the majority of Mario video games as the main female character and the romantic interest of Mario. She has been voiced by Samantha Kelly since 2007.

As the lead female character in the Super Mario series, Peach's role is typically the damsel in distress who is kidnapped by the main series antagonist, Bowser. In most of the games, her role is to be a captive until she is eventually rescued by Mario. In several multiplayer games of the series, she is a playable character, such as Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Outside the series, she has appeared as the protagonist and player character of several video games, including Princess Toadstool's Castle Run, Super Princess Peach, and Princess Peach: Showtime!, which will release on March 22, 2024.

Peach is one of the best known female protagonists in video game history, having appeared in more video game titles than any other female character. She has also appeared in official merchandise, comics and animated series. In The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) she is voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy. Peach has received a mixed reception, with much commentary being critical of her longstanding repetitive role as a princess waiting to be rescued. She has been described by critics as one of the most iconic and influential female video game characters.

Concept and creation

Characterisation

Princess Peach was preceded as Mario's romantic interest by a character named Pauline (originally named Lady) that appeared as the damsel in distress in Mario's first video game Donkey Kong in 1981. Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to use the characters Popeye, Bluto and Olive Oyl from the Popeye cartoon as the main characters, but failed to obtain the license, so he transformed them into Jumpman (Mario), Donkey Kong and Pauline.[10] Donkey Kong established Pauline's role as the female character who is rescued by Mario and appeared as the damsel in distress in subsequent games. With the arrival of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Mario Bros., Pauline was replaced by Princess Peach.[11] Miyamoto later said that Donkey Kong had been designed for arcades, which were frequented by male gamers, so Nintendo did not consider making a character that would be playable by girls.[12]

Several characteristics for Princess Peach were introduced in the 1996 role-playing game Super Mario RPG, including her use of a parasol as a weapon and a sleep spell ability that inspired her Final Smash in the Super Smash Bros. series.[13]

Following the debut of Waluigi in Mario Tennis, an evil version of Peach named "Walupeach" was pitched by Shugo Takahashi, co-founder of Camelot Software Planning, but the concept was rejected by Miyamoto before seeing the design, saying that it would be "just like Doronjo" from the Yatterman anime series.[14] The design was pitched again by Waluigi's creator Fumihide Aoki for the 2004 video game Mario Power Tennis, but was rejected by Nintendo.[15]

Reflecting on Peach's role within the franchise, Miyamoto said that although Nintendo had intentionally kept her as a damsel in distress who is saved by Mario in the games, they had wanted to develop her into a more powerful princess in The Super Mario Bros. Movie.[16] He said that Peach was one of the characters in the film that evolved the most, as her role was changed from a princess that needs to be protected to one who fights for Toad.[17] After the release of the film in 2023, Peach's appearance was updated on the box art for Princess Peach: Showtime! to make her appear more angry and determined like her movie counterpart.[18]

Character design

Peach's initial appearance was drawn by Miyamoto, who later asked Yōichi Kotabe to redraw Peach with his instructions. He had asked Kotabe to draw her eyes to be "a little cat-like" and wanted her to look "stubborn, but a little cute".[19] A strategy guide titled How to Win at Super Mario Bros., which was published around the time of the first Super Mario Bros. game in 1985, depicted the princess as a human on its cover, but also with a mushroom-inspired form.[20] Other merchandise designs created around the time of the first game depicted Peach with straight, long blonde hair wearing a red skirt, illustrating that her design was not finalised until later games.[21]

When discussing Peach's design for Super Princess Peach, released in 2005, Miyamoto said that it was important for Peach to be "Peach-like", meaning that she evokes the "free optimism of a princess". He explained that she was designed to convey an image of strength, rather than being protected by Mario, due to many Nintendo developers being used to a matriarchal figure at home.[22]

Names

Miyamoto said that Peach's name came from associating princesses with girls and when thinking about girls, he would think of pink.[23] In Japan, Peach's name has always been Princess Peach (ピーチ姫, Pīchi-Hime, Princess Peach) since her debut in the original Super Mario Bros. in 1985. However, she was localized as "Princess Toadstool" in the English-language manual.[24] The English version of Yoshi's Safari, released in 1993, contained the first usage of the name "Peach" in the Western world,[25] though she was called Princess Toadstool in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, released in 1994.[26] In Super Mario 64, released in 1996, she uses both names in a letter addressed to Mario, signing it "Peach". From the 1996 game Mario Kart 64 onward, the name Peach is used in Western versions.[27]

Portrayal

Several voice actors have provided the English voice for Princess Peach. Since the 2007 Wii game Mario Strikers Charged, Peach has been voiced by Samantha Kelly.[28] She has also previously been voiced by Jen Taylor.[29] Her other voice actors include Jeannie Elias in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, Tracey Moore in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, and Leslie Swan, a localisation manager for Nintendo.[30]

Characteristics

Peach is the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom and ruler of her subjects known as Toads, a mushroom-like people.[31] Although she has appeared in a variety of outfits, Peach typically wears her pink princess dress with puffy sleeves combined with long white gloves and red shoes.[32] Her royal abode is a large castle with white walls and red roof, adorned with a stained-glass portrait of the princess.[33] Peach is the daughter of the Mushroom King (also named King Toadstool), a character that appears in the Super Mario Bros. comics and mentioned in the manual for the first Super Mario Bros. video game but has never appeared in the video games.[34] She is presented as one of the few humans in the kingdom, despite the Toads being the predominant race. Throughout the mainline series, the Mushroom Kingdom is under persistent attack from Bowser and his minions and Peach's role is to be his kidnapping victim.[35] Her age has never been officially confirmed, but it varies between mid-teens and early twenties.[36] Despite being the lead female character of the Mario franchise, Princess Peach has rarely been the protagonist of Mario video games.[37] Since the first Super Mario Bros. video game, she has repeatedly been the damsel in distress of the main series, typically appearing at the end of the game to reward Mario after successfully rescuing her. She is a playable character in various spin-off games and has wielded several weapons, including a frying pan and a parasol.[38] She also demonstrates magical power, such as the ability to heal in Super Mario RPG.[39] In the first Super Mario Bros. game, her white magic is the only way to undo the chaos caused by Bowser to the Mushroom Kingdom. Peach's relationship with Mario is a central element of the series, yet remains ambiguous. Although Nintendo describes them as friends, suggestions of a romantic relationship between Peach and Mario recur throughout the series.[40]

Appearances

Super Mario series

Peach made her debut as Princess Toadstool in the 1985 platform game Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The story involves Bowser (named King Koopa) kidnapping her and hiding her in one of eight dungeons, necessitating Mario and Luigi to find and rescue her.[41] After navigating his way through eight worlds and defeating King Koopa over a pit of lava, Mario receives a "Thank you Mario!" from the princess as a hero's reward.[42] A sequel to the game was released in Japan in 1986 as Super Mario Bros. 2 and was eventually released in North America as part of Super Mario All-Stars in 1993 titled Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. Like its predecessor, the game involves Mario or Luigi attempting to rescue the princess from Bowser.[43] In 1988, the princess was upgraded to a playable character on the NES with the release of a second sequel titled Super Mario Bros. 2. As one of four playable characters in the game, she outwitted her enemies with the unique ability to float over obstacles.[44] The game was made from a preexisting Japanese game named Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic to repurpose it for a Western audience, thus Princess Toadstool was used in place of Lina, one of the characters in the Japanese version.[45] In the NES game Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988), Mario embarks on a quest to rescue seven kings from Bowser's Koopalings, but eventually discovers that Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser.[46] After Mario's quest to rescue the princess is complete, she rewards him with a joke and a dismissive "Bye bye".[47]

Princess Toadstool returned as the kidnapped princess on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in Super Mario World (1990), which places Mario in a location called Dinosaur Land. Mario embarks on a quest that involves navigating through several locations to save Dinosaur Land from the Koopalings before rescuing the princess from Bowser.[48] The princess is again the victim of Bowser in the 3D platform game Super Mario 64 (1996), released on the Nintendo 64.[49] The game begins with Mario receiving a letter from "Princess Toadstool, Peach" asking him to come to her castle as she has baked a cake for him.[50] Peach's castle acts as a hub world and contains paintings that Mario can use to enter various worlds to complete challenges in order to win stars. At the end of the game he must finally face Bowser and save the princess.[51] After Bowser is defeated, the princess emerges from the stained-glass window that adorns the castle, having been captive within its walls.[52] In the GameCube title Super Mario Sunshine (2002), Mario, Peach and some Toads take a holiday to Isle Delfino. Upon arrival, they find the tropical paradise is being polluted with paint by Shadow Mario, a mysterious doppelgänger of Mario.[53] Shadow Mario is secretly Bowser's son, Bowser Jr. in disguise and, after framing Mario for polluting the island, he kidnaps Peach. Bowser Jr initially accuses the princess of being his mother, but after Mario defeats Bowser and rescues Peach, Bowser confirms that Peach is not Bowser Jr.'s mother.[54]

New Super Mario Bros (2006) returned the series to 2D platforming on the Nintendo DS. The game centres on Princess Peach being kidnapped by Bowser Jr. and Mario travelling through eight worlds to save her.[55] Peach initiates the events of the 2007 Wii game Super Mario Galaxy by asking Mario to come to her castle because there is something she would like to give him.[56] The plot involves Bowser kidnapping Peach and transporting her castle into outer space. Mario's quest requires him to complete levels and collect 60 power stars before he can travel to the centre of the universe to rescue the princess.[57] New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009) was the first 2D side-scrolling platform game in the series to introduce multiplayer, with up to four players choosing to play as Mario, Luigi or two Toad variations.[58] Miyamoto said that Peach was not included as a playable character because her skirt would require special programming.[59] The game opens with the princess being kidnapped by Bowser and his minions, necessitating Mario and Luigi to rescue her.[60] In 2010, Nintendo released a sequel to Super Mario Galaxy with a 3D platformer on the Wii titled Super Mario Galaxy 2. Like its predecessor, the game centres on Princess Peach being abducted by Bowser, requiring Mario to travel through various worlds to save her.[61]

The Nintendo 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land (2011) begins with Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach at the outset. The player controls Mario as he navigates through eight worlds to rescue her, with each ending in a boss fight with one of Bowser's henchmen.[62] In New Super Mario Bros. 2 (2012), Peach begins the game by waving to Mario and Luigi as they soar into the sky to collect coins wearing their racoon suits. The Mushroom Kingdom is soon under attack from Bowser and his Koopalings, who kidnap Peach.[63] The game involves Mario and Luigi travelling through platform levels, collecting coins and fighting bosses to save the princess.[64] In Mario's 2012 Wii U debut, New Super Mario Bros. U, the action takes place in Dinosaur Land.[65] The plot involves Bowser and his Koopalings taking Princess Peach hostage and Mario and friends making their way to the centre of Mushroom Kingdom to save her.[66] The game offers multiplayer for up to four players featuring Mario, Luigi and two Toads as playable characters.[67] The game's director Masataka Takemoto explained that Princess Peach was not included as a playable character because he wanted all of the characters to have the same moves as Mario, and Peach was not well suited for that.[68]

Although not initially planned to appear in the 2013 Wii U video game Super Mario 3D World, Peach was suggested by producer Yoshiaki Koizumi. The game was the first in the mainline series since Super Mario Bros. 2 to feature her as a playable character. Koizumi thought she could offer more competitive choice in multiplayer.[69] He also hoped that players would be able to play alongside their girlfriends or wives.[70] Peach has the ability to use her gown to float while jumping, allowing her to avoid gaps and other obstacles.[71] She can use power ups that provide various effects and boosts, such as the cat suit, which gives the ability to crawl and climb walls like a cat.[72] When Peach gets the Fire Flower power up, she transforms into Fire Peach, where her dress changes from pink to red and white and she can throw fireballs.[73] The 2015 platform video game Super Mario Maker provides players with the tools to create their own levels and play them as Mario or transform him into various other characters.[74] It includes a Costume Mario feature where players can scan various amiibo to add characters, including Peach, to the game as a Mario transformation.[75] In the mobile game Super Mario Run (2016) Peach is one of several playable characters and is unlocked following the completion of the World Tour mode. The story of the World Tour mode involves Peach being kidnapped by Bowser. After she is unlocked, Peach can use her floaty jump ability during gameplay.[76]

Peach begins the Nintendo Switch game Super Mario Odyssey (2017) by being abducted by Bowser, who wants to marry her. She is confined to Bowser's flying boat, while Mario must travel the world to rescue her. At the end of the game, Bowser and Mario compete for Peach's affections, but she rejects them both, opting to travel the world on her own.[77] In addition to her wedding dress, Peach wears a variety of outfits on her travels, including a bikini, overalls and a kimono.[78] Super Mario Maker 2 (2019) includes a story mode that tasks Mario with reconstructing Princess Peach's castle. By working through 100 courses, he can collect coins to pay for the construction of parts of the castle. When the castle is complete, Princess Peach allocates jobs via the Taskmaster, which unlocks a Princess Peach Mii costume and a Princess Peach Tennis outfit.[79] In Super Mario Bros. Wonder (2023) Princess Peach is one of several playable characters alongside Mario, Luigi and others. The game centres on their visit to the Flower Kingdom, which is disrupted when Bowser steals the Wonder Flower and transforms into a flying castle.[80] Like the other characters in the game, Peach can use a power up to transform into an elephant form.[81]

Other Mario games

Princess Toadstool's Castle Run, a game based on Super Mario Bros. 2, which was released in 1990 on the Nelsonic Game Watch, was the first game to feature Princess Toadstool as the sole playable character.[82][83] In 1993, she appeared in Mario is Missing!, an educational game developed by The Software Toolworks.[84]

She is a playable character in Super Paper Mario and most Mario spin-offs such as Mario Party, Mario Kart, Mario Tennis, and Mario Golf. She is a returning character in the kart racing game series Mario Kart and appears as one of eight playable characters in the first video game Super Mario Kart (1992).[85] A variation named Cat Peach was introduced as one of three playable characters in the first DLC pack for Mario Kart 8 in 2014.[86] The game also debuted a variation named Pink Gold Peach.[87] Mario Kart 8 Deluxe features a playable Peach and additionally Cat Peach, Baby Peach and Pink Gold Peach.[88] Mario Kart Tour increased the number of playable options and includes Cherub Baby Peach, Kimono Peach, Pink Gold Peach, Vacation Peach and Wintertime Peach.[89]

In 1996, the princess appeared in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. She is one of the party members and the final character to join the team. In gameplay, she can use defensive and healing moves or attack with a weapon, such as a frying pan or parasol.[90] The game begins with the princess being kidnapped by Bowser, resulting in Mario setting off to rescue her.[91] Although she was named Princess Toadstool in the original game, she was renamed Princess Peach in the 2023 remake released on the Nintendo Switch.[92]

Peach appears in the Paper Mario series from the Paper Mario video game (2000). In the first game she is kidnapped by Bowser after inviting Mario and Luigi to her castle for a party, requiring Mario to retrieve seven Star Spirits in order to rescue her. Players can play as Peach in sections of the game as she repeatedly attempts to escape the castle.[93] In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2004) Peach invites Mario to the town of Rogueport for a treasure hunt, but she is kidnapped and held in a fortress by the X-Nauts, leaving Mario to collect seven Crystal Stars while trying to find her. Players control Mario, but at the end of each of the eight chapters, the gameplay switches to Peach as she wanders around the fortress while attempting to escape.[94] Peach is again kidnapped in Super Paper Mario (2007) in which Mario must set off to recover eight Pure Hearts in order to find her.[95] During gameplay, Peach teams up with Mario as a playable character where she can perform a floaty jump.[96] In Paper Mario: Sticker Star (2012), she and the Toads are enjoying a sticker festival in the Mushroom Kingdom until Bowser arrives to cause chaos, resulting in Mario collecting stickers to save the kingdom.[97] In the 2016 follow-up game Paper Mario: Color Splash, Mario, Peach and Toad are invited to Prism Island, which is being drained of colour. When Peach is kidnapped, Mario and a paint bucket companion named Huey must save the island and Peach.[98] In Paper Mario: The Origami King (2020), Peach and the Toads are folded into origami versions by King Olly, so Mario and friends must fight to restore them.[99]

Peach is the protagonist and playable character of Super Princess Peach (2005), a platform game with mechanics similar to Super Mario games.[100] Set on Vibe Island, the game begins with Bowser using the Vibe Scepter to capture Mario and Luigi, resulting in Princess Peach embarking on a quest to rescue them with the help of her talking umbrella Perry. During the game she must navigate levels, release captured Toads and finally face Bowser. In gameplay, she can stomp on enemies and attack them using Perry in various ways. Peach's health is measured with a heart meter. She also has a Vibe meter, which governs her four emotions, joy, gloom, rage, and calm. Each emotion power provides a unique ability; joy powers her to float in a cyclone, gloom creates floods of tears, rage engulfs her in flames and calm restores her health.[101]

On 22 March 2024, Peach is due to star in the Nintendo Switch game Princess Peach: Showtime!. With a focus on a theatrical theme, it centres around Peach saving Sparkle Theatre from the antagonist Grape and her minions, the Sour Bunch. With the help of Stella, the theatre's guardian, she can change into various outfits with specific abilities. Her transformations include Swordfighter Peach, Patissier Peach, Kung Fu Peach, Detective Peach, Figure Skater Peach, Mermaid Peach and Mighty Peach.[102] The game is the first to feature Peach as the protagonist since the release of Super Princess Peach.[103]

Other video games

Peach is a playable character in the fighting game series Super Smash Bros. and has appeared in every game since being introduced in Super Smash Bros. Melee.[104] Upon her debut in Melee, her moveset included the ability to float in the air and throw turnips at opponents.[105] Super Smash Bros. Brawl introduced her final smash Peach Blossom, which causes opponents to fall asleep and take damage.[106] In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate her fighting moves include using Toad as a shield, jumping upwards and using her parasol to float down, and her final smash Peach Blossom.[107]

Peach has made cameo appearances in non-Mario games. She is depicted in a painting in Hyrule Castle in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.[108] In The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, a character named Christine sends her picture to a letter writer named Mr. Write, but it is a portrait of Princess Peach.[109] She features as a playable guest character alongside Mario and Luigi in the GameCube versions of the Electronic Arts games NBA Street V3 and SSX on Tour.[110][111]

Other media

In 1986, a Japanese anime film was produced titled Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach!. Written by Hideo Takayashiki and directed by Masami Hata, it was based on the events of the first Super Mario Bros. video game. The story involves Princess Peach escaping from the video game world into Mario's world before being captured and pulled back to the Mushroom Kingdom by King Kooper. Mario and Luigi are lured into the Mushroom Kingdom by a dog in order to save her.[112]

From September 1989, Peach appeared in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! a cartoon series by DiC that only aired for one season. In this incarnation, she is referred to as Princess Toadstool and is a redhead.[113] She is voiced by Jeannie Elias in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! and Tracey Moore in the two follow up series The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World.[114]

Throughout 1992, Peach (named Princess Toadstool) appeared in a comic titled Super Mario Adventures, which was serialised in Nintendo Power. The plot involves Bowser proposing marriage to her and threatening to turn her subjects to stone if she refuses. After Mario is turned to stone, she and her troops pursue Bowser down a pipe, but she is eventually captured by Bowser. Rather than remaining idle, she demonstrates resourcefulness in various ways, including tricking her way out of her cell, escaping from a window using a yellow cape, and popping out of a pizza box holding a bomb in an effort to save Mario.[115]

Princess Peach is also prominently featured within Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood's immersive Super Nintendo World areas. A costume character meet-and-greet with her is located in her pavillion. The interactive "Power-Up Bands" feature a design based on her dress.[116]

Anya Taylor-Joy voices Princess Peach in The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Peach is voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy in The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023).[4] Her casting, alongside the rest of the principal cast, was announced via a Nintendo Direct in September 2021.[117] Peach became Mario's guide and romantic interest, having been raised by the Toads from infancy in the Mushroom Kingdom.[118] Director Aaron Horvath said that Luigi became the victim Mario must save, to substitute Peach's traditional role in video games as the damsel in distress, so she can remain a strong monarch and protector of the Toads.[119] Taylor-Joy said that she was concerned before taking the role, but that her portrayal of Peach as a strong, capable leader was "the way she was supposed to be".[120] A song from the film, which was titled "Peaches" and written and performed by Bowser voice actor Jack Black, was released in April 2023.[121]

Merchandise

Peach has been merchandised across a range of official products, including plush toys and action figures.[122][123] An amiibo of Peach wearing a pink gown was released for the Super Smash Bros. series in November 2014.[124] In 2015, another version was released as part of a set of Super Mario amiibo.[125] In 2017, a set of themed amiibo was released for Super Mario Odyssey, including an amiibo of Peach wearing a wedding outfit.[126] A limited edition double pack featuring Cat Peach alongside Cat Mario was released for Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury in February 2021.[127] In December 2014, a rare legless Peach amiibo resulting from a factory defect achieved a Guinness World Record for being the most expensive amiibo figure.[128] Peach's colour scheme and crown motif have been used to market themed controllers, including a pink Wii Remote Plus controller in 2014 and a pastel pink Joy-Con for the Switch in 2024.[129][130] She has also featured in other licensed Mario products, including as an interactive figure in the Lego Super Mario range and as a Hot Wheels collectible.[131][132]

Reception

Critical reception

Digital Spy described Peach as one of the most iconic female game characters of all time, naming her an icon that transcends gaming and commenting that she "acts as one of Nintendo's main mascots on a worldwide scale".[133] SyFy also described Peach as one of the "greatest video game heroines of all time" for being a tough female character that "embraces the power of being a high femme".[134] Alyse Knorr writing for Kotaku noted that Peach is one of many examples of the damsel in distress trope that recurs throughout history, commenting that she is such a damsel cliché that she mainly existed as a plot device rather than as an individual character and that her role was to provide Mario with a reason to exist.[135] Feminist organization Sister Namibia was critical of the fact that Peach always needed to be rescued by reasoning that "it propagates that women are helpless and in constant need of saving" and "[she] serves quite literally as a trophy for the completion of Mario's quest. She is ultimately just another object or reward for Mario to use".[136] Mike Fahey of Kotaku created a "victimization record" for Princess Peach that detailed her many kidnappings within the series, commenting, "There are few women with more kidnappings under their belt than her royal mushroom highness".[137] Destructoid's Gamer's Red Carpet graded her fashion choice as D, calling her pink dress "awful" and "old-fashioned" and likened it to a dress from the musical Hello, Dolly!.[138] In an article about the impact of princesses on girls, Peggy Orenstein of The New York Times said that she loved Peach but noted that "her peachiness did nothing to upset the apple cart of expectation". She considered Peach to be an ideal postfeminist solution by "the melding of old and new standards".[139]

Josh Straub of Game Informer cited the repeated failure to find the princess in the first Super Mario Bros. game as one of the most memorable moments in gaming history, stating that reaching the end of a world and being told by a Toad "But our princess is in another castle!" was a "method of torture" that forced the player to face another round of platforming.[140] Peter Tieryas writing for Kotaku considered Peach to be the best character in Super Mario Bros. 2 and emphasised that her floating ability was the first of Nintendo's solutions for fine-tuning jumping in platform games.[141] Matt Kamen of Wired appreciated the plot of Super Mario Sunshine for having "a bit more impetus to a game than 'rescue Peach (again)'" and felt that this offered more depth and personality to the characters.[142] Video Games Chronicle writer Chris Scullion said that Peach's starring role in Super Princess Peach should have been a turning point for the character, but ended up as "an average platformer with a questionable central mechanic" by focusing on her "getting emotional".[143] In his review of Super Princess Peach, Mark Bozon of IGN thought that Peach's emotion powers and use of coins to shop were "borderline insulting" and seemed like "a girls game made by guys".[144] IGN editor Matt Casamassina thought that Peach's outfit in Super Mario Strikers could be controversial with some fans, as it "shows more of the character than we've ever seen before".[145] Mike Sholars of Kotaku hoped that the introduction of Rosalina in Super Mario Galaxy would mean that the Super Mario series would no longer need to rely on the concept of saving the princess and that Peach could become more than a plot device.[146]

Bryan Vore of Game Informer praised Super Mario 3D World for being the first game in 25 years of the mainline series since Super Mario Bros. 2 to include Peach as a playable character, saying that it demonstrated Nintendo's willingness to change the formula.[147] Chris Suellentrop writing for The New York Times opined that Super Mario Run was not a family-friendly game due to its "stale, retrograde gender stereotypes" and said that Nintendo had failed to update Super Mario for a contemporary audience by beginning the game with Princess Peach being a hostage.[148] Sam Loveridge of GamesRadar+ felt that in Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo "was playing him from the start" by beginning the game with Peach being abducted by Bowser and ending it with a scene in which she rejects the romantic advances of both Bowser and Mario. He commented that Peach "shrugs off all those years of being the damsel in distress to forge her own path in the world as a single woman" and that in doing so Nintendo was clearly recognising its female fanbase.[77] The announcement of Peachette in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe led to speculation about the Super Crown power up and how the new character related to Peach due to their visual similarities.[149] Kirsten Carey of The Mary Sue expressed excitement in anticipation of Princess Peach: Showtime! noting that it was the second game to cast Princess Peach as the star and describing it as "a girls' outing".[150] Rebekah Valentine of IGN said that the game was the opportunity to see Peach "defined only by herself" rather than by Mario.[151]

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Tracy Brown said that Peach started out as an unappealing character due to being simply a princess waiting to be rescued but was given more personality in later games. She further remarked that The Super Mario Bros. Movie incarnation had subverted her characteristics by depicting an empowered ruler who is capable of engaging in battle and protecting her subjects without it being at the expense of her femininity.[152] Christian Holub of Entertainment Weekly responded positively to Peach's characterisation in the film, calling her "a female protagonist for the Rey generation" but also a relatable character for older players.[153] Hope Bellingham writing for GamesRadar+ appreciated her active role in the story, describing her as "the brains behind the operation" even though Mario has the starring role.[154] By contrast, Julia Glassman of The Mary Sue considered her film incarnation to be a common sexist trope where the badass female character must step aside for an average male by supporting and training him rather than taking the lead.[155] Gene Park writing for The Washington Post felt that Peach had been empowered long before her movie incarnation due to being "the most visible woman in video games, having appeared in more titles than any fictional woman in the medium" and hoped that the movie would finally transform her image in the public consciousness.[156]

Legacy

Peach has been described as one of the greatest video game characters by game websites and publications, including the 2011 version of the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition and GameSpot, which described her as "arguably the most famous woman in video game history".[157][158][159] Several journalists have also described her as a queer icon.[160][161] Time named Peach as one of the most influential video game characters of all time, describing her as the "quintessential damsel in distress" but noted that Nintendo had improved her status over time by making her a playable character and introducing her in other game series like Super Smash Bros. Peach was cited to be an influence on other video game developers creating strong female protagonists.[162] Tracey John writing for Time commented that Peach's repeated abductions had become a running joke and a pop culture reference.[163] On August 6, 2014, Nintendo declared August as National Peach Month.[164][165] In 2018, a short comic "The Super Crown's some spicy new Mario lore" on DeviantArt and Twitter transformed Bowser into a monstrously sinister female resembling Peach that fans named Bowsette, which inspired numerous works of fan art.[166] In May 2021, in an episode of Saturday Night Live, Grimes dressed as Princess Peach, while host Elon Musk starred as Wario in a sketch in which he was put on trial for murdering Mario in a kart race.[167][168]

Notes

  1. ^ Japanese: ピーチ姫, Hepburn: Pīchi-hime, pronounced [piːtɕi̥ çime]

References

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