Girl in the Machine
Monday, June 11, 2007
On the Rag in the Mushroom Kingdom

I would like to thank Peach for showing off her best Blow-Up Doll Impression for us this evening!

Super Princess Peach was the first game I bought for my Nintendo DS. Of course, my line of thinking was, Kick ass! Peach finally gets her own game, and she's not baking cakes or hitting people with frying pans or anything! Admittedly, Peach has always been my favorite Mario Bros. character, though in more recent years that's been getting harder and harder to stand by.

I wish I could say that SPP was any help at all, but alas. Alas.

First of all, SPP succeeds in deviating from the typical Super Mario format with sometimes huge, multi-tiered levels, various puzzles (including a literal jigsaw), a shop for buying power-ups, mini games, and tons of unlockable levels. Unfortunately, that's where the good things stop.

The premise? Mario and Luigi get plumbernapped and taken to Bowser's summer home on Vibe Island -- yes, you heard me right -- where the Koopa King has acquired the all powerful -- here it comes -- Vibe Sceptre. So, it's up to Peach to travel to Vibe Island and rescue the boys before Bowser . . . Vibes them to death (I'm so, so sorry).

All completely gratuitous sexual innuendo aside, I'd like to get to the real kicker for this game.

In his adventures, Mario gets to utilize Fireballs and Invincibility Stars to help him get the job done.

In SPP, Peach uses mood swings.

Yes, you heard me correctly. The boys get winged caps and the like and the girls fight evil with their unstable emotions. Who needs Fire Flowers when your premenstrual rage causes you to burst into flames? And Beanstalks? Peach and her can't-take-the-pressure bouts of wild sobbing cause plants to burst from the ground! I was half-expecting Toad to bring her a bucket of ice cream and a Midol, just to keep the stereotypes rolling.

My beef with the game isn't that it's slathered in pink or decorated with hearts and flowers. No, the concept of "girliness" doesn't offend me just by itself; Peach has always been saccharine and overly-femme, and this has its charms. However, it's the blatant female stereotypes incorporated into the game that do the job. The obvious parallels between SPP and Mario's adventures underscore how SPP is (misguidedly) marketed to female gamers, making it a "Gurlz Game" wherein the girly heroine does girly things. The Damsel Rescues the Hero concept becomes a gimmick instead of something cool and new and empowering.

SPP reflects Nintendo's superb talent in severely underestimating its female customers. The laughable difficulty level, the marketing, and the horrible execution of what could have been a fresh concept for the Mario franchise attempts to separate girl gamers from the rest of the crowd as uninitiated, unskilled, and lacking in any taste. It simply oozes the sexism that gaming companies wield when attempting to market towards the wimmins.

In the end, all I can say is that at least she wasn't baking anyone a cake.

(Thanks to IGN for the images.)

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 Posted by BomberGirl
 2:00 PM + Link to this post

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