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The Curtain Rises on Princess Peach: Showtime

HOST, CECILIA BLOTTO: In the world of video-games, few female characters are as recognizable as Nintendo’s Princess Peach. The formula for most Super Mario games is simple: the evil King Bowser kidnaps Peach, and Mario has to rescue her. But tomorrow, for the first time in nearly twenty years, Princess Peach will be the hero of her own story. 

NARRATOR, SAMUEL SHEPHERD: At the Nintendo Store by Rockefeller Plaza, a swaggering Princess Peach is slashing her way across the screen. She’s dressed up as a musketeer in a blue, cavalier hat and armed with a rapier. 20-year-old Shriya Doranala is controlling her on the Nintendo Switch.

SHRIYA DORANALA: it’s like Princess Peach she has a lot of powers I think she uses. This one is her sword fighting, I bet in the next stages there’ll be more.

SHEPHERD: It’s one of many costume changes that the Mushroom Kingdom monarch takes in the upcoming game, Princess Peach: Showtime. One moment Peach is a ninja, then a golden-voiced mermaid, then a detective.

DORONALA: I want to see more of Peach. There’s never been like a Peach that has been her own heroine, much less has all of these amazing powers and amazing get-ups. [sound under]

SHEPHERD: Princess Peach uses these “transformations” to take on the evil sorceress, Madame Grape and her minions the Sour Bunch, who have taken over the Sparkle Theater. In a first for a game featuring Princess Peach, the cast is all girls, and Mario is nowhere to be found. 

DORANALA: I think it’s amazing. I mean like, growing up, you could only use Peach as an avatar, kinda, but not like the main person so it’s pretty cool.

SHEPHERD: Early reviews of the game have praised the games whimsical design but some people are saying the game is pretty easy - and points to a double standard. Cody Mejeur (Mee-er). They teach , Assistant Professor of Games, Gender and Culture  Studies at SUNYthe University of Buffalo. 

CODY MEJEUR: Oftentimes we see a gender breakdown between the games that are easy, and those are women and girl games that we don’t take as seriously, and we get the really hard games…those are really gendered as masculine spaces, those are games for boys and men that want that challenge.

SHEPHERD: Mejeur says Princess Peach Showtime is a step forward for girls in gaming, but an imperfect one. 

MEJEUR: Yes, we can be mermaids and guide these sea creatures around. And we can also solve crimes and can also be swashbucklers and do all of these things, right?

MEJEUR: At the same time, yes, it does fall into that distinction between the casual games for women and then the hardcore games for dudes.

SHEPHERD: Despite some criticisms about its easy difficulty,  a new generation of girl gamers, like 9-year-old Paige are excited to play the game. 

SHEPHERD: Who’s your favorite Mario Character?

PAIGE: Princess Peach and Rosalina and Luma.

SHEPHERD: Did you know that Princess Peach is getting her own video-game?

PAIGE: Yay! Finally.

SHEPHERD: And boy gamers- like 9 year old Kalel -  are eager to play, too. 

KALEL: I feel like some characters don’t get the own games, because like, they’re not in the mains…So I would like if Princess Peach had her own game. 

SHEPHERD: Princess Peach: Showtime comes out tomorrow on the Nintendo Switch, no Italian plumber required. Samuel Eli Shepherd. Columbia Radio News.


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