The following was originally published on ThoseGuys.tv by AbraKapocus.
I swear, Princess Peach is the master of getting kidnapped. She’s been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. She’s in a kidnappers rewards program. Two more and she gets a free mushroom sundae. She has been kidnapped in every single possible way there is to be kidnapped, even inside a cake! Man, I just threw two dessert references in the opening paragraph, so you know it’s serious business now!
Some of us who were hardcore and dedicated enough (or wussed out and used the Game Genie) to beat the original Super Mario Bros. on NES experienced the thrill of rescuing the princess, and even moreso when we beat the more manageable and wholly superior third installment. Maybe there was even a touch of that excitement in World. But things started going sour in our Princess Toadstool relationship around the 64 bit era. We got to know her. And her inexplicable penchant for being Bowser’s hostage was really starting to wear thin as a premise.
It started to make us question why. Why were we rescuing her? What importance and significance did she serve to the plot, other than being rescued? Seriously, what contributions did she make to the story? What does she do, and why is she so important? She must not be, otherwise you’d think that by now Mushroom Kingdom security would be enacting its version of the Patriot Act on her. But because of good old Nintendo, being the visionaries in storytelling they are, in every new installment Mushroom Kingdom security is as lax and negligent as it ever was. I don’t know, maybe there’s a lesson there for us somewhere, but we would honestly have much more to fear from Bowser’s army than a disorganized bunch of extremists in the desert who rage against our foreign policy.
Which brings me to Bowser himself. He never really seems to do much to Peach once he has her, save for the numerous fan theories that she fathered 8 koopa children against her will. It’s rarely, if ever, explicitly stated what his objective is beyond drawing out Mario and Luigi for another showdown. At least in Superstar Saga he has some other end goal in mind, even if it is just a lame ransom ploy.
At first, due to Bowser’s unceasing failure I was of the mindset that he will never learn. Now that the Mario series has a lot more games and I have twenty more years on me, it’s pretty clear that I’ve been blaming the wrong party here. Where’s the Mushroom Kingdom airship armada that I’ve seen depicted in various fan-made flash sprite movies? I wanna play that game! And I want Peach to have a more involved role like she did in Super Mario RPG. Now there’s a game where she took a level in badass, though not before putting on an embarrassing display of weepy helplessness in the segments leading up to it. If she doesn’t fight, I’d at least like her to make some big political power plays, or be at the helm of the flagship in the climactic air battle. That would have certainly been much more becoming than, say, Super Princess Peach.
But, no, instead we have the same toil and rescue plot in pretty much every other game since. Even my brother, at the tender age of fourteen, was starting to cry foul when Bowser resorted to the same old schtick in 64, even after working together with Mario and company to stop an even greater threat. The series even stooped so low as to throw in a random escort mission through the desert, where you literally have to babysit Peach’s every step, or she gets nabbed and tied up. Then you have to stop what you’re doing, travel down the yellow pipe, and take the same damn overlong trek to go get her back from the pissant enemies that carried her off, because you can’t advance in the level without her.
What an unnecessary waste of valuable time. I remember hoping that she might have been a temporary third party member and be able to fight, and what followed was immediate disappointment. It’s nice that at least in 3D Land she actually took it upon herself to be proactive and tried to escape Bowser’s clutches herself. A nice change, even though she failed, but what the hell took you so long you dumb bimbo?!
It sure would be nice for Nintendo to take Peach in a new direction apart from Nostalgia Critic Doug Walker’s affectionately dubbed “dumbass in distress” title. Rescuing her is no longer the joy it once was. It’s become a chore. I implore you to see reason, Nintendo. Flesh out her character a bit more, give her back that RPG-era initiative, and then maybe the task of saving her will have just a little more weight behind it.