User login


Femme Fatale: Princess Peach

Videogame characters come and go. Some go easily, some go reluctantly, but some manage to firmly dig themselves into the conscious of the gaming world and refuse to let loose their grip. Though some videogame women are nothing more than visual treats to the eye, every so often someone does justice to what it means to be a woman. We here at Killer Betties would like to honor these videogame women by deeming them with a title that is only fitting for these heroes of the pixel world – femme fatales. Our first inductee – Princess Peach.

Everyone Has An Origin Story
If you know anything about videogames, you know the story of the original Super Mario Brothers and seemingly every incarnation since then. You play as Mario, a plumber dressed in his most fabulous red and blue overalls, as he sets about the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue the damsel in distress – Princess Peach. And really, Mario's story is fabled enough, so let's focus some attention on that young damsel.

Damsel in distress novels - those with shirtless muscular men on the cover like Fabio - are a booming business in the literary world, and one could consider the story of Super Mario Brothers one of the most well-known and popular of them all, and definitely one even men wouldn't mind to be caught enjoying. Released in 1985, the game has sold approximately 40 million copies worldwide and stands today in the Guinness Book of World Records as the top selling game of all time.

For her first foray into the videogame world, Princess Peach developed a bit of a personality disorder, as she was known as one of two different names depending on what side of the world you were on. If you lived in Japan then Princess Peach was the object of your desire to save, but if you lived anywhere else Princess Toadstool was the lady you were meant to rescue. Why the name change? Nobody knows for sure, though many speculate either the size of the name or the localization of the name being a factor, but the actual true name, regardless of the reason, was the Japanese name of Princess Peach.

A name wasn't the only thing that was different for Princess Peach's first game, as cosmetically the Princess differed greatly from one adventure to the next. From her conception, Princess Peach was always designed to be a blonde woman, but because of the graphical limitations of the original NES, blonde/yellow just wasn't a color they could do all that well at the beginning. So, with those limitations in mind, the sprites of her hair were adjusted to something the game could run well, which ended up being a brown/reddish hue. Not only that, but her usual pink dress resembled a white gown more then anything else.

This Femme At Her Most Fatalist
Perhaps Nintendo wanted to give gamers the opportunity to play as the heroine for a change, because the second installment of Mario let you actually control the lovely Princess for the first time ever. Super Mario Bros. 2 (released in 1987), which was nothing more than the game Doki Doki Panic with a Mario coat of paint spread across everything, became so because some deemed the original Japanese version to be too hard, and so this repainting of an earlier game was released instead of publishing the real "true" sequel that the Japanese got. Peach could do everything the other men could do, but for a change she held something over them that nobody else had but her…the ability to hover. Who knows why she could hover? Many speculated that the reason was because of a "mystical" nature hinted about in the manuals but never the actual games, but the truth is just one of those vague mysteries that plagued early Nintendo games since they rarely dealt in backstory. Though her hover made her unique, it almost seemed as a "gimme" since they made her one of the worst overall characters of the game (she is the slowest at running and lifting and also the weakest when it comes to strength).

Women must have really made their voices heard with the introduction of the Gamecube, because finally Princess Peach got back into her good old fighting form, proving to the critics that yes, she could kick some butt and handle the boys when the time came for it. When the Gamecube launched, Peach finally got to get her hands dirty again, as she was one of the premiere fighters in Super Smash Brothers Melee (2001), and she easily held her own against the other Nintendo staples such as Link, Pikachu, and even her rescuer Mario; she saw, she conquered, and she sent all those boys and other assorted creatures flying from the playing field. When Peach wasn't too busy whipping up on the boys, she was busy proving her worth in a wide assortment of sports. Peach went on to race again in Mario Kart: Double Dash (2003), played some tennis in Mario Power Tennis (2004), played America's favorite pastime in Mario Superstar Baseball (2005), and then finally soccer with Super Mario Strikers (2005). Our woman grew up and now has a whole trophy case full of awards she has won.

Living Life To The Fullest
Though she helped save the day in Super Mario Brothers 2, she was once again relegated to the sidelines for Super Mario Brothers 3 (released in 1990), which many still consider the best of the series and remember being featured in the Fred Savage movie "The Wizard" as the final game they played to determine the champion, so that Mario could do the saving again by himself. In this game, much like the first, the Princess is kidnapped and Mario must save her and her kingdom.

For Mario's first adventure on the new SNES system – 1991's Super Mario World - the story was the same again. The only moment featuring the Princess was at the very end, with Mario rescuing Peach on the roof of Bowser's castle, and once the two soul mates kissed, a fireworks show was setoff and the couple lived happily ever after. Besides that memorable moment, the game is also known for introducing the real "true" look of Peach, as Super Mario World was the first game to see our Princess wear the pink dress and sport the blonde hair for the first time together.

Though you were unable to play as Peach for the first Mario game on the SNES, Nintendo did see fit to include her as a playable character in Super Mario Kart (1992), and they even went so far out of their way to make her one of the fastest accelerators in the game. Besides her Kart appearance, the Princess was also referenced in the 1993 Super Scope light gun supported Yoshi's Safari, and for the first time outside of Japan she was known to American audiences as her proper name, but the game was either not played by that many or the quality of the release made it so easily forgotten, as it wasn't till later in the story when the name Peach would truly stick. Princess Peach was also a party member in Mario's Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996), and there she would prove her worth as a valuable ally since she had the best healing abilities of any character in the game, once again suggesting that the Princess, as stated in the early manuals, did in fact have a mystical ability to her that was never really fully explained.

Well, so much for that generation, but what about the next generation when the N64 came around? Would the Princess get to star in an adventure game once again? Sadly, the Princess did not, and Peach once again found herself a prisoner of Bowser in Super Mario 64 (1996). Though she was once again the damsel in distress, there was something major that came from this edition of the Mario franchise. After telling Mario to come to the castle to grab a cake she made for him, Princess Peach signed her sweet letter to Mario…from Peach! American audiences wondered what Peach meant, and after this one uttering, it finally stuck, and from that day forward Princess Toadstool was known as Princess Peach across the entire world. Much like her SNES days, she at least got to prove she can drive in Mario Kart 64 (1996) and swing a club in Mario Golf (1999).

The Legacy Continues
And now we end our retrospective on the life of Princess Peach with surely her crowning achievement (no pun intended) since the days of the second Mario Brothers game. The Nintendo DS now has out Super Princess Peach, a platformer starring the lovely Princess Peach as she goes forth to rescue Mario. Can you say irony? As you journey from land to land, doing battle with the various Mario creatures from past years with her magical parasol, the fact still remains that, though it isn't the traditional Mario attack (jumping on enemy heads) it at least features Princess Peach returning to her old fighting form. Besides the parasol, Princess Peach also has an array of powers (suggesting once again her mystical abilities) including the power of joy (gets to fly), rage (turns into a fireball), gloom (run at double speed and cries to make plant grows for stepping ladders), and then finally calm (regain health).

Why We Deem Her A Femme Fatale
It's been a long strange trip for Princess Peach since those early days when all she did was get captured, but she has at least managed to snag a bit of the spotlight away from Mario.

Princess Peach is one of the most accurate representations of women in general, and she manages to do it all without us ever really knowing what in her past made her so, but perhaps that is the reason we love her so…the mystery. The mystery that this woman standing before us, though known to us in many ways, could only yet still be a fraction of the depth that lurks within her once the layers are finally pulled away.

At times, Princess Peach represents the mother, where she'll bake a cake for her sweetheart, showing us that nurturing/mothering side of her, and with the way she rules over her kingdom, it could be paralleled to that of a mother ruling over her house and children (just look at Princess Peach's subjects and tell me they don't appear to be nothing more than children).

At other times Princess Peach is that young woman growing up (even adults for that matter who still long for that sensation) who sometimes dreams of that shining white knight in armor to come rescue her, sweep her up off her feet, and take her away into a new and lustrous beginning and at other times imagines she's the white knight, racing off to adventure and save the world.

And yet, through it all, Peach also represents that forceful side of women, who know when to be the Princess, and who know when they need to stand up and take charge for themselves without waiting on someone else to complete them and make them whole. Cause sometimes women just want to kick loose and strike out on their own to whatever adventures may await them.

So why is Princess Peach a femme fatale? There are many reasons, and they've all just been listed for you, but if there is one final piece of praise for Princess Peach being our first femme fatale it is this: Cause nobody else can pull off the pink gown and still be able to strike fear in the hearts of players!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
More information about formatting options