Mario games have always been pretty straight forward in terms of story. Mario loves Princess Peach, Princess gets captured by arch nemesis Bowser forcing Mario to go on an extended journey to find a way to stop Bowser and save the Princess. This happens in so many of Mario’s games that the kidnapping of the Princess has been become something of a joke. You would think that having to rescue this Princess time and time again would get a little tiring for the famous plumber just as much as the player. Is that cake the Princess promises really worth all that trouble? Does Princess Peach really just fail as a damsel in distress or fall into a gaming stereotype that makes feminists cry with rage?
In most main Mario games, yes, Princess Peach does fall into the stereotype that demure princesses always have to be rescued by the guy and does little to nothing else besides “woe as me!” However, there are a few games in the series that either give her more of a role or even make her a part of the main cast that is not only refreshing but even enjoyable. Out of the Mario games that I have played the best example I can draw on to prove this is the Princess’ playable sections in the Paper Mario series.
Peach with her companion Twink as they explore the secret passage ways of her castle, currently overrun with Koopas.
These are little short sections that take place between each new chapter of the game before Mario journeys off to another area of the world, where you control Peach while she is still a captive of the enemy (Whether that be Bowser or a new enemy). What makes me love these portions of an already incredible series of games is that it gives Peach an important role to play while still being the sweet damsel we have come to know over the years. She goes so far as to put herself in danger, sneaking around the enemy strongholds, getting information about their plans and finding a way to send it to Mario so he can stop them. Not only does it show that this cutesy Princess is willing to step up to protect her home but it also shows what lengths she is willing to go in order to save it along with the person she cares about most, Mario. Just goes to show how one sided a relationship can seem when you only look at it from one perspective.
People can rant and rave how lame Peach as a female character since she doesn’t fight or is never even shown doing her job as a ruler of an entire kingdom, but I think the character gets more hate that she deserves. She may not be the smartest or the strongest female character in gaming history but if she is portrayed correctly, she is more than worth fighting for. At the end of Paper Mario, when all is said and done and you get the ending scene of her and Mario watching fireworks with a music box song in the background, it is a genuinely touching scene. Both characters have been seen undertaking their fair share of hardships not only to stop the bad guys but just to see each other again. The payoff, while simple, surprisingly feels incredibly satisfying that you were able to reunite these characters who care for each other so much.
That is why, not matte what Mario games may do in the future, whether they decided try a new type of story or keep doing what their good at, I will continue to love these characters. Peach may not be the greatest female character in video games or even the best damsel in distress stereotype, but she is one of my favorite characters in gaming due to her kind nature and her love for the game’s main star.