It’s August, and Nintendo has declared it the month of Princess Peach. The tribute is much deserved, too, as our pink fruity heroine, while often overlooked, is truly one of the most important characters of our time—in video games and beside.
While you may think Peach is little more than a damsel in distress, nothing but motivation for the red plumber to embark on an adventure, the truth is that the princess is far more significant.
If you still don’t believe me, a stroll through Her Highness’s resume should quell any doubts.
I admit, when Princess Peach made her debut in the 1985 NES masterpiece Super Mario Bros., she didn’t steal the show. She was there at the very end to award Mario with a kiss (after the hero came to her rescue at the wrong castle seven times). She wasn’t even Mario’s first love interest; that honor goes to Pauline in the arcade classic Donkey Kong, the lady kidnapped by the ferocious ape.
But Peach, unlike Pauline, has endured the passing of years. In fact, Peach is one of the earliest female characters in gaming—ever—and she is still with us today. She has grown and adapted through the generations. And while the video game industry still suffers at times from sexism and a lack of equality and diversity, Nintendo has never held back the fact that Princess Peach can be pretty and be a badass at the same time. Readers of Official Nintendo Magazine have voted Peach one of the greatest female video game characters of all time, in fact.
Princess Peach was also one of the first playable female characters in a video game. Known outside of Japan as Princess Toadstool back in those days, the princess arrived, turnips in hand, to help save the world in Super Mario Bros. 2. That’s right: as early as 1988 Nintendo let us play as a princess in a bright pink dress, golden crown, and high heels.
Nintendo never made any attempt to mask who Peach really was, make her a tomboy, or remove the pink frills from her dress. She’s always been, well, peachy. While Samus strips at the end of her games for a largely male audience, and Lara Croft persists as an iconic sex symbol, Princess Peach has remained appropriately clothed, innocently endearing, and a symbol of goodwill. Mario has always been the only man in her life.
In the princess’s nearly 30-year run, she has appeared in more video games than any other female character—72 titles in all and counting. Without batting an eyelash she has taken up kart racing, schooled her plumber friends on the golf course, jumped into the Smash Bros. fray, and partied it out in Mario Party. She was playable in each of these games. She was also playable in the Paper Mario series, almost escaping Bowser on her own in the original and saving the multiverse alongside Mario in the Wii entry.
This culminated in 2005 on the Nintendo DS when she got her very own game: Super Princess Peach. When Mario and Luigi are the ones to be kidnapped by Bowser for a change, Peach takes her parasol and immediately runs to rescue them. Using a magical ability to manipulate emotions, Peach accomplishes her mission, single-handedly defeating Bowser where the Mario brothers failed.
Created by legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, Princess Peach was envisioned as cute and blonde with a stubborn and independent demeanor. She wears makeup, bakes cakes, and speaks in a soft high-pitched voice. While she plays on classic feminine stereotypes, adorned in pink and jewelry, she is still a symbol of woman’s power. She’s a role model for young girls everywhere. In the words of The New York Times, Princess Peach has been “athletic, smart and strong, but she was also adorable.”
Let’s look back at some of Princess Peach’s greatest moments:
She assisted Mario even while captured. In Super Mario Bros. 3, the princess managed to send Mario a series of letters while in captivity. They warned Mario of the dangers ahead, giving him valuable information such as the weakness of a Boo. Each letter also came with a helpful item, such as a a P-Wing.
She taught a computer to dance. While held captive in the X-Naut fortress in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, she bravely tried to make her escape, only to be held back by the villains’ main computer AI, TEC-XX. Secretly, though, TEC had fallen deeply in love with Peach at first sight, and asked the princess to dance with him. She obliged, and the computer later worked with the princess and Mario to save the world.
She defended Mario in court. In Super Mario Sunshine, Mario is falsely accused of polluting Delfino Isle (the real perpetrator was Shadow Mario). After Mario’s arrest, Peach and Toadsworth rush to Mario’s trial, insisting he is innocent. Despite the princess’s attempts, however, Mario is still thrown in jail.
She served Sheik and Fox tea. Amidst a heated battle between Zelda’s alter-ego Sheik and Fox McCloud during the Subspace Emissary storyline of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Peach realizes that everyone is on the same side fighting for the same cause. She calls out to the two, tea cups in hand, and Sheik and Fox put aside their differences to sip a nice warm beverage together. That’s a true pacifist at heart.
She single-handedly threw Bowser out of her castle. At the beginning of Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, Bowser tries to crash Princess Peach’s meeting at her castle. He is foiled by Mario, who deals him a good thumping, before Peach uses her Wish Power to pick up the King Koopa, throw him through her castle wall and out of the Mushroom Kingdom.
She competed in the Olympics. She may have even won a Gold Medal, too. For the last seven years Peach has represented the Mushroom Kingdom in ribbon twirls, discus, sprinting, ice skating and more. She even helped organize the event with Daisy, Amy and Blaze in Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and fought to prevent Bowser and Eggman from stopping the fun in London.
Princess Peach is still at it 29 years later. She’s a mighty ruler in her own right, and still cherished by Nintendo. Peach-themed merchandise is often sold alongside classic Mario gear, and the leading lady still stars in virtually every Super Mario game.
Clearly, this wonderful peach has ripened, and her flavorful fruits to the world should be celebrated this month. Right, Nintendo fans?