By Joshie Jaxon
Greetings, geek fans. When working on new material, I realized that I hadn’t done a Glorious Girls post in forever. I decided, what better way to get back to it, than to dive in with someone that gamers new and old would recognize, Princess Peach. Let’s the geeks begin!
Originally called Princess Toadstool here in the states, she was the damsel in distress that Mario was supposed to save in the original Super Mario Bros for the NES. Back then, games had manuals to help flesh out the story, since the cartridges had limited memory. If you never read the manual, then you had no idea why Mario was running around stomping things until you got through the first castle, and discovered Toad waiting for you. Say it with me now, “Thank you, Mario, but our princess is in another castle”. After questing through eight worlds, we finally get the genuine article. Rather than the appearance we know today, she was a redhead, and wore a white dress. She kept the hair for another game or two, but changed into her signature pink dress for Super Mario Bros 2, where she was a playable character. Personally, I preferred to play as her, because of her ability to hover in the air, which saved me from death on more than one occasion. By the final game on the NES, Super Mario Bros 3, Princess Toadstool was kidnapped again. However, this time she was able to send us touching letters, and power-up items. I’m glad the Koopa King allowed to to send mail. For that matter, if she had things like power wings and such to send, why didn’t she just use them herself to escape? Ponder that, I’ll touch on it again later.
The Super Nintendo era brought us Mario’s next console adventure, Super Mario World. Once again, Peach is kidnapped. Nintendo knows, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, just tweak it. So, even though the power-ups and locations may change, the only thing that can motivate Mario to want to play through a game is if he’s got a gal to save. Pauline, Daisy and Rosalina can back me up on this. He’s either saved them by personally rescuing them, or by completing tasks to get things going. Where was I? Oh yeah, save me, Mario! Save me! And he does, and it all goes well until the next time. The SNES brought us another chance to play as the princess, in the form of Super Mario Kart. Peach got addicted to racing, and she’s been doing it ever since. Which gives her at least a slight sense of accomplishment, seeing as how she’s always getting kidnapped left and right. In Mario 64, she was even held captive in her own castle. How humiliating to not even use any hidden exits to free yourself. Oh wait, bimbo blonde girl in the main series. I forgot. How careless of me. The thing is, I want to like Peach, I really do. She runs an entire kingdom, and deserves some respect. I just can’t get past her lack of defenses. Alright, Bowser gets her once or twice, you fortify and prevent it from happening again. Sadly, she, or her advisors, just never learn.
I could comment on Sunshine, Galaxy, Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros DS/Wii/Wii U you see where I’m going with this. I’ll summarize; Bowser takes Peach, Mario travels through roughly eight worlds to save her, repeat. However, she was given one chance to shine on her own, Super Princess Peach. In a twist of fate, Bowser takes Mario. Maybe he was trying to get him out of the way of future Peach-nappings. This time around, Peach needs to save Mario. Yay! Feminism! Girl power! Oh, wait, they didn’t give her fire flowers, a cape, Yoshi, or FLUDD, they made her a slave to her emotions. Yes, seriously. Joy, Rage, Gloom, and Calm are her arsenal. Joy makes her float, Rage makes her burn, Calm restores health, and Gloom makes her cry. Way to reinforce women using tears as a weapon, guys. As if that weren’t sexist, and disempowering enough, the object she retrieves from Bowser is called the Vibe Scepter. Hand to freaking god, not only did Bowser take Mario, he took Peach’s vibrator. Have that image in your mind as you look at the cover art for the game; Peach, using said scepter as she has a Mario kidnap fantasy.
Moving on, we’re gonna focus on a more empowering incarnation of Peach, the fighter. The Princess has been part of the Smash Bros series since the beginning. Finally, Peach is able to fight back against not only Bowser, but Mario, Luigi and Yoshi too. She wields her Toad subjects as weapons, as well as her signature parasol. She is a lady, after all. There is a story mode in Smash, and she has the chance to be the one to take down Master Hand. Finally saving the day with the help of no man. Aside from that, Peach is a staple in the Party series, as well as the various sports games that are out there. I’ll give Nintendo credit, although she isn’t the most well-rounded person in their universe, she gives young girls, and boys, a female character in what is usually a male-dominated industry. She can go-cart, golf, play tennis, baseball, soccer, etc. just as well as the boys do. I personally don’t use her unless I have to, because I prefer my female characters to be more warrior than princess. However, that doesn’t stop me from finishing my Mario games and making sure she’s rescued. I can’t just leave her there. She’s certainly not going to save herself. Or is she?
My absolute, hands-down, all-time favorite version of Peach is from her Princess Toadstool days. There’s a little known gem of a comic called Super Mario Adventures. This story is great, and so is the art. I may do a separate post on it just to do it justice. Essentially, Bowser turns Mario and the Toads to stone. Princess Toadstool ain’t having that, and chases after him. Atta girl! Sadly, she still winds up captured, but in the greatest twist ever, she saves herself! She kicks some Koopaling ass, and gets away. Mario, not knowing she freed herself, and based on past precedent we can’t blame him, gets caught trying to save her. Then Princess Toadstool has to get back into the castle she escaped from to try and save her would-be hero. The story has it all. I won’t spoil the rest. As I said, I’ll do another post. I just love that at least on paper, not only did they make her a competent ruler, but a woman as well. There was no waiting around to be rescued, she did it herself. That’s the sort of a lesson a recognizable character like Peach should be showing more often.
In conclusion, Peach currently holds the honor of being the female character with highest amount of game appearances, at a whopping total of 78 to date. Thanks, to multi-series repeats like Mario Party, Mario Kart, etc. In fact, she was the only female racer in that opening game. Despite being portrayed as clueless, Peach Toadstool really is competent in a lot of ways. Perhaps it’s her security detail that needs an overhaul. No longer a simple damsel in distress, Peach has expanded her skill set, if not her mind, to show that pretty women can be just as capable as men, and to me, that’s pretty glorious.