Tag Archives: princesses

FGC #437 Super Princess Peach

Here comes a princess!Wrong time, wrong place, and now, apparently, never again.

It is almost insane to explain the bygone age of 2005/2006, but it seems a history lesson is in order. There was once Super Mario Bros. And then there was Super Mario Bros. 2 (available in two unique flavors). We then saw 3 and World, two surprisingly different and phenomenal games that both shared the same Super Mario base. Yoshi’s Island changed the formula dramatically, but it was also a great experience that clearly drew from previous Mario titles. And then there was… nothing. Oh, there were Mario games, but Mario branched out into kart racing and tennis playing and the occasional Olympic decathlon. Mario also decided to explore the third dimension, so, while “Super Mario games” were certainly still a (welcome) thing, the old days of 2-D Mario platforming were apparently gone forever. Mario has other things to do now, he doesn’t have time for screen-filling Bullet Bills.

But maybe Princess Peach has some room in her schedule.

For being known as the damsel in distress of the Mario franchise, Princess Peach has seen a lot more play than many of her contemporaries. She was an active, platforming character in Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA). She tossed a frying pan around with the best of ‘em in Super Mario RPG. Thereafter, she primarily returned to her “let’s get kidnapped” role for future action Mario titles, but could also always be counted on to make a showing in any given sports or “just for fun” title. If Bowser was distracted with a go-kart, Peach could participate to her heart’s content. It’s easy to say she only “matters” in titles that don’t matter (and we all just assume that the Mushroom Kingdom’s government isn’t entirely based on kart racing), but having a selectable Princess on the roster is great for anyone that is tired of the usual plumber and his mainly-male supporting cast. Princess Peach fills a niche, and it’s not just as “the girl”; she’s her own character, and, without having very much dialogue over the years, she’s been established as an exceptional, occasionally humorous, ruler for a kingdom of fungi. She’s her own woman, and she’s proven herself one tennis match at a time.

Don't be sadSo it did make a certain amount of sense that Princess Peach would receive her own adventure. It would be fun to make Mario the “damsel” for once, and Peach already has a quasi-moveset and some support abilities from previous adventures. Add some floaty jumps, maybe include some central gimmick, and… hey! Mario isn’t using 2-D platforming right now. Let’s throw that genre over to Princess Peach, and see what she does with it. It’s a perfect fit for an experimental DS game!

Super Princess Peach was born! And, honestly, the game itself worked out pretty well.

Super Princess Peach is largely a 2-D Mario title with two different kinds of movesets. On one hand, you have Peach’s innate (and sometimes umbrella-based) abilities that are available at all times. Of course Peach can perform her seemingly natural floating jump, attack with her parasol, and even perform a cool little slide that will certainly earn her a “safe!” at home plate. Then you have the “vibe” abilities, which seem to be what everyone remembers about this title. Princess Peach apparently has drastically different moods that can be controlled with the tap of a stylus, and her various outbursts come in handy for the more “puzzle” based portions of levels. A Sad Peach rains tears on the area like a cursed sprinkler, so plants grow happy, and cold floors turn to ice. Calm Peach sees her health restore automatically, while Delusional/Happy Peach can literally fly through the skies on her own private wind currents. And Angry Peach burns with the fury of a thousand raging suns, a walking, all-consuming blaze of disaster that shall envelop us all and leave this planet a charred husk (and maybe knock-out a few goombas). Give or take a final ability that allows for unlimited spending, Peach is limited by a rapidly depleting gauge for all of her emotional abilities (so you can’t just fly through every level like a So sadjerk, P-Wing Mario), so Fiery Inferno Peach is not available at all times. Ultimately, this means Peach’s emotions are only truly useful in specific, find-some-secrets situations, but you can always use your umbrella to eat people (!) to score some spare emotional power. Regardless of location, though, Super Princess Peach actually winds up with a pretty super host of abilities.

But that is all inconsequential to what’s important about Super Princess Peach. It’s a Mario game! Who cares about anything else?!

Look, there were still 2-D platforming titles in 2005. The Castlevania series was still living off the success of Symphony of the Night, so running and jumping and stabbing was something you could find on those GBA/DS titles. Speaking of stabbing, Mega Man Zero was just about to mutate into Mega Man ZX, and both of those franchises were a fun time on a 2-D plane. But those titles seemed to be the last vestiges of the big boys of the genre. We were still a long way from the indie 2-D resurgence, and the even the likes of Wario had started to drift from his 2-D roots to other, greener micro-pastures. There are a lot of reasons people played Super Smash Bros. Melee well past its initial release, but did anyone ever consider that gamers just craved a Mario that ran and jumped in a 2-D world?

YUMMYBut Super Princess Peach scratched that itch in more ways than one. Yes, the title was arguably on the “easy” side of platformers (pits did not spell instant death, and one of the moods rewards standing around and watching health refill), and Peach never did seem quite as nimble as a full-tilt Mario, but, damn, that princess could book it when she needed to. And this was unmistakably a Mario platformer in the vein of the previous Super Mario World titles. There were dinosaurs and flying hammer bros. and Spike and all manner of piranha plants. In fact, there were also “recursive” appearances, like Super Mario Sunshine bosses Petey Piranha and Gooper Blooper appearing in 2-D for the first time. Yes, Peach was on the cover and saving the day, but everything about Super Princess Peach screamed “Mario!” like a Luigi echoing through a haunted mansion.

And then New Super Mario Bros. was released shortly thereafter. And that was, without question or concession, a new 2-D Mario title. The first in over a decade. And it was good. It was amazing. And the “only” good Super Princess Peach was completely forgotten.

And it’s a shame, too. Super Princess Peach had its own ideas and a greater emphasis on exploration and situational abilities than the more straightforward New Super Mario Bros. It is a “2-D Mario Game”, but it is also its own thing, starring its own heroine. The emotion-based skill system might have been a little misguided, but a slightly less misogynistic gimmick could have worked in a second adventure (why won’t Nintendo just let Princess Peach catch fire for no reason!?). But did we see a second Super Princess Peach?glub glub No. Have we even seen references back to Peach’s only true solo outing? ‘Fraid not. And, even when DS titles were being re-released on the WiiU for some strange reason, we never saw the return of Super Princess Peach. Super Princess Peach has been dropped, seemingly forever, by Nintendo, and we are all worse for it.

Sorry, Princess Peach. We’ll just have to quietly wait for your return to the limelight. Maybe we’ll see Super Princess Peach Country one of these days…

FGC #437 Super Princess Peach

  • System: Nintendo DS. Only Nintendo DS.
  • Number of players: Was this one of those Nintendo DS games with inexplicable 2-player minigames? Probably not. Let’s just say one player.
  • Come to think of it: Super Princess Peach Meets Super Princess Daisy would be all I want from life.
  • Story Time: The sentient parasol apparently gets a backstory of being a real boy that was transformed into an umbrella. However, the bloody rise to power that would eventually define the Toadstool legacy is not explored, and we’re left with Princess Peach being a blank cypher as usual.
  • Touchy Feely: This is another one of those “early” DS games that found a way to incorporate the stylus/tap gameplay into a level or eight. It may have seemed innovative at some point in the history of gaming, but now it just feels like you’ve accidentally slid into a $5 app in the middle of a perfectly good Mario game.
  • Lucky!Credit where Credit is Due: This title doesn’t get enough props for taking the traditional Mario bestiary and adding something as simple as “emotions” to make seemingly entirely new opponents. A happy piranha plant apparently is very fire-based, and an angry boo is a shameless, unstoppable force. And everyone enjoy the company of a glad bob-omb.
  • Favorite Enemy: Sad Dry Bones. You really have to wonder why more undead koopa troopas aren’t sad. Or maybe their immortal existence cheers them up…
  • Is this a secret Kirby game? 2-D platforming, enemy devouring, and an emphasis on umbrellas. Maybe?
  • Did you know? The Koopalings were apparently intended for this title, and their sprite data is still hiding in the game. Why they were cut is anyone’s guess, but my money is on dark forces that stand against the very concept of fun.
  • Would I play again: I would very much like to play this title again on a system that is slightly more modern, like some manner of console/portable hybrid. However, I might give it a spin on the ol’ DS/3DS sometime. It’s fun to be a princess!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Fire Emblem: Awakening! Wow! A TRPG! Those are always fun. Please look forward to that!

It's a-me
“Sorry, our Mario is in another castle. Ha ha ha just kidding.”

Kingdom Hearts FAQ #02: Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts is light!Q. What is Kingdom Hearts?
A. You wanna go down this rabbit hole? Fine.

Kingdom Hearts is the absolute most poorly defined eponymous “thing” that has ever existed in fiction. Imagine if Samus Aran spent 15 years fighting “metroids”, and then every time a new game popped up, every time, some random dude in a cloak was like, “No, those weren’t metroids, these are metroids.” And then Samus would do the exact same thing as last time, and whoops, there goes the metroids, same as ever.

Once again, in chronological Kingdom Hearts history order…

THE KINGDOM HEARTS ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE: In the beginning there was light, and it was good. All the worlds of Kingdom Hearts were smooshed together, which basically means all the Disney franchises were immediate neighbors. Presumably, this led to a wonderful universe where The House of Mouse was playing 24/7, and Aladdin played fetch with Lady and the Tramp while Dumbo hung out in the parking lot with the cast of Cars. Nobody made eye contact with the guys from Song of the South. Also, everyone and anyone had a keyblade for some reason. There’s probably a very good reason for everyone stomping around with a giant key-sword in a perfectly shiny happy world; let’s just assume everyone had magic cars, and only keyblades fit their ignitions. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Not a keybladeSo anyway, all these keyblades were built as cheap knock offs of the χ-blade, pronounced “key blade”. Not kidding, some horrible human being forced the late, great Leonard Nimoy to explain this in-game: there is the “Excalibur” of keyblades, called the χ-blade (pronounced exactly the same as any other keyblade, because language works like that), and it’s supposed to be the physical counterpart to Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts is the gatekeeper, the χ-blade is the keymaster. Got it memorized? Kingdom Hearts is the source of all light and good and gumdrops in the universe, and the χ-blade is the ticket to that, so everybody got their keyblades together and just killed the living hell out of each other. There is an entire world that is just pre-owned keyblades, and presumably every keyblade equates to a key-murdered former owner, and, really, can’t stress this enough: entire world of them. There was a literal global genocide in the back story of a game where you can summon Chicken Little as an ally.

Anyway.

So nobody actually won this whole Keyblade War, and I guess too much blood soaked into Disney Eden, so there was a Disney Big Bang (probably sounded like this), and all of the Disney Worlds were separated into different, well, worlds.

Millennia passed, and while that’s the kind of thing that usually happens in these RPGs, it’s kind of weird to think about with the Disney planets involved. Like, were there just thousands of years where Snow White World built itself up to a society that looks to be about a million years behind Tron World? Or were the various Disney Worlds just playing out a constant loop of the same story over and over again, as if a plaything for an ADD riddled four year old god? Is the artful, debonair Aladdin simply a few decades from becoming the next lonely, oafish Sultan in an inescapable loop of fate?

Blue Kingdom Hearts is light!Errr, anyway, as I said, millennia passed, and, in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, that wily Xehanort, who (this is canon) writes endless essays about how much he loves the darkness and probably hates all the music you listen to because it’s too mainstream, decided he wanted that whole big ball of light that is Kingdom Hearts for himself. Xehanort studied his lore, and discovered that the original χ-blade was split into 13 pieces of darkness and seven pieces of light. Knowing full well he was living in a JRPG based universe, Xehanort realized that reforming the χ-blade would take a really annoying fetch quest, so he decided to make his own damn χ-blade by doing what Xehanorts do best: abuse children. Xehanort split his boy apprentice Ventus into a light half (still just Ventus) and a dark half (Vanitas). Xehanort believed that when the ancient rite of “stop hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself” was applied to Ventus and Vanitas, a χ-blade would be formed. Xehanort was, against all reason, completely right. A “false” χ-blade was created, which created a “false”, blue Kingdom Hearts as a giant heart-shaped moon over The Keyblade Graveyard. However, the whole thing was short-lived, as friendship or some other stupid thing forced Ventus to completely abort his own heart, and the χ-blade and Kingdom Hearts blinked out of existence. Ventus went on to export what was left of his heart to the then-child Sora, and Xehanort possessed a new body (Terra, see previous post), and was then beaten so badly he forgot his own evil plans.

Or did he!?!

Seriously, I’m asking, it is really unclear.

As mentioned previously, Amnesia Labcoat Xehanort goes on to actively pursue “darkness” in all its forms until he “accidentally” breaks himself into two.

So elegantOne half, Heartless Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (actual title, he had business cards printed up and everything) gets the bright idea to actively plunge all of the worlds into darkness. Here’s the plan: remember how I said the χ-blade got split into seven points of light? (And 13 darknesses? Forget that part. For now.) Well those seven pieces of light are all Disney Princesses! Well, six Disney Princesses and one Square Princess (not Sarah). And one “Disney Princess” isn’t so much a princess as a “generally well meaning, and probably crazy blonde”. Low bar for princesshood is what I’m saying here. So Darkest Ansem uses Maleficent (he liked her name right off the bat) to gather up the Princesses of Heart to make an eeeeeevil keyblade (not χ-blade… I mean, that would make sense, right? But, no, not χ-blade, and don’t you dare suggest that that’s simply because this entire plot is so made-up-as-we-go-along it’s not even funny), and then use that keyblade to unlock an entrance to the Realm of Darkness, from which all the Heartless and eeeeeevil flows. Simultaneously, Ansem Darknessaholic is just plain obliterating worlds, plunging them into darkness, because every “world” has its own heart, and when all the worlds are dead, those hearts will go back to the darkness, congeal, and form… Kingdom Hearts. Sora, is the heroic counter to this plan, and he fails spectacularly: he saves like seven or so worlds while Ansem pretty cataclysmically demolishes the rest of the universe. Luckily for the franchise, Ansem is a complete idiot: he manages to create a really amazing wad of world hearts, let’s call that big, heart shaped thing Kingdom Hearts, but, as the quote goes, “Kingdom Hearts is light,” so Ultimate Pure Darkness Ansem is vaporized by the holiness pearlness of his own creation. It’s high art, exactly like Frankenstein.

With Ansem dead (or something), the worlds’ hearts all return to where they ought be, and the worlds regrow (or something), and even their inhabitants (see Simba of Kingdom Hearts 2) don’t seem to remember anything bad happening. Yay for everything! Naturally, this means that Kingdom Hearts stops existing.

Kingdom Hearts is light and shiny!The other half of Xehanort, Xemnas, decides he’s gonna go get himself his own Kingdom Hearts. This plan is pretty simple: get all the heartless everywhere to eat all of the hearts of all humans (and some lions) (and mermaids) (and claymation Halloween creatures) (and Danny DeVito), get the nearest available keyblade wielder (Sora, Roxas, no real difference) to shred those heartless, then take those hearts, and wad them all up into a Kingdom Hearts. It’s a pretty solid plan, so solid, infact that halfway through the plan, Xemnas’s second in command, Saix, outright tells Sora the plan, and Sora is like “Well, if I don’t destroy the heartless, the gameplay is going to have to become some kind of stealth game, or racing game, or maybe a rhythm game, and, oh man, this franchise is terrible at all of those things, so better just kill the heartless like usual.” And he does. So Xemnas builds his moon-shaped Kingdom Hearts with aplomb, until DiZ (Dilbert in Zeppelin) shoots pure SCIENCE at Kingdom Hearts, and the whole stupid thing collapses in on itself. What “thing” I’m referring to there is an exercise for the reader. Xemnas is understandably frustrated by this, so he welds the failing Kingdom Hearts to himself, and uses it to turn into a bitchin’ giant metal space dragon. While he is inevitably defeated, he is painted on the sides of vans everywhere in remembrance.

As mentioned in the previous post, all this Xehanort killing leads to Xehanort Prime returning, and in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Xehanotverygoodatthis reveals he’s got a great idea: he’s going to recreate the χ-blade to access Kingdom Hearts! Wait, come back! This plan is slightly different! He’s going to pull those thirteen pieces of darkness together by using thirteen versions of his super dark self, and grab those seven pieces of light out of the ever-increasing Sora pool, and then he’ll have his very own χ-blade! And Kingdom Hearts! So tune in to Kingdom Hearts 3, kiddies, or else you won’t get to see the real Kingdom Hearts, which is inevitably going to be another damn heart-shaped moon. But different this time! Well, “different”.

So, in summary, have you ever looked at the Kingdom Hearts 1 cover? There’s Kingdom Hearts. Right there. You’re looking right at it. Can’t miss it. There, just saved you like two hundred hours.

RIGHT THERE!