By TGB 10 Comments
Super Princess Peach is a game that is marketed and made for 8-14 year old girls, duh. Nintendo is very comfortable with this market as games like Pokemon and many of their lesser more shovelwarey titles for the handhelds have appeal to female gamers, especially from that subgroup. The game seems appropriately casual gazing at its surface. There are no game overs, there is no lives system, falling down pits takes away only a small bit of health and the health system and special meter are kind and easily filled. So based upon my years of video game experience this game was going to be cake, a baby easy game of Kirby proportions. But that's not the game that I played. The game is casual in how it mitigates against the player failing, but the level structure belies a harder core experience.
Whilst I was idiotically anticipating in my subconscious that the levels would be like Super Mario Bros. 3, meaning short tight chocolaty covered level nuggets full of secrets and things to do but can be rushed through in less then a minute, the levels in Super Princess Peach are more like levels in Super Mario Bros. 2. The levels are huge and have a lot of different and varying challenges. But whilst SMB2 was a game that was relatively linear, Super Princess Peach is dependent more upon set pieces, smaller chucks of levels interconnected with warp pipes and that grow in their labyrinthine structure as you progress through the game. The game isn't difficult, but it requires a fair amount of thought and observation to complete a level. The biggest shock of the game for me was that to unlock the final boss fight I had to go back through the earlier levels and find every single captured Toad. I repeat, to finish the game a player has to comb through every level to find the hidden boxes that hold Toad's that have been captured by the nebulous evil that has befallen the Mushroom Kingdom. Super Princess Peach may not be a "hard" game, but it's one that you have to have skill and determination to finish. This isn't your Mom's Mary Kate and Ashly Olson adventure platformer to be sure.
The other game that I have played recently is the game My World, My Way. This is a game that has a lot of appeal to female gamers, but is a game that is meant for Dungeon Crawler hardcore fans and is purposefully tedious and difficult. Huh? I think that My World, My Way is one of those rare games that successfully transformed creepy Japanese Moe Otaku culture into something that would be palatable for younger female gamers. It's a game with a very "girly" color scheme rife with pinks and stars, a female lead who is a wealthy Princess spurned by her "destined" love and has decided to have an "adventure," a cute blobby pet character, a pout mechanic, a title in both Japanese and English that would play to all the girls around the world who wish they were spoiled princesses and a story arc that shows that girls can become powerful and rock out hardcore. And all of this is wrapped up in a genre which is almost impenetrable for the typical gamer and has a character whose express purpose is to make your experience harsher and more tedious. I've been a bit pessimistic about younger female gamers getting into gamers like My World, My Way in the past, but what the hell do I know. Even whilst attempting to remove prejudice from my mind while playing Super Princess Peach, I found myself surprised at its depth and the amount of effort I had to put into the game. Super Princess Peach could be that secret gateway drug that is leading girls into the sin, into harder and harder core drugs... I mean games. Perhaps it's the Harry Potter vibrating broom of games, boldly leading the young women of today into hardcore gaming adulthood but, you know, just less dirty
Maybe girl games are all tougher then many of us originally thought, may be my ten year old neighbor is playing My World, My Way right now and is much better at its grindy mechanics! I'm lost inside of my own male dominated video game thought bubble and have almost no pulse on the scene at all, but the games I have recently played have showed me that perhaps I'm not giving "girl games" the props they deserve. That's is why it's always important to never judge a book by its cover, or a girl by the games she plays, because maybe just maybe those games are more hardcore then you suspected.