Mario Strikers: Battle League is a bit of a disappointment. While the football itself is pretty great, it's extremely lacking in content. It's a bit like Spurs, with a great first team but an embarrassing lack of squad depth. I mention all this in my review, but what I didn't get to talk about too much was Princess Peach. Peach is one of only two women in a roster of just ten, and she is defined by her womanhood in typical Nintendo fashion in the worst way possible.
In the game Super Princess Peach, Peach has four different power ups which are all defined by her emotions. All Peach can do is look pretty and have these womanly things called 'emotions'. She's a thin damsel in distress character, but all of the original Mario characters were, and they grew into something else. She gets a real evolution in Super Mario Odyssey, as the game plays with tropes of her being kidnapped only to have her refuse Mario's help and start out on her own. That makes Strikers’ huge backwards step even worse.
In Strikers, all of the characters have a special attack animation that nets them two whole goals for scoring. Usually, there's a significant amount of characterisation here. Donkey Kong hits the ball so hard it turns into a banana. Rosalina, with her outer space origins, hits her ball around the moon so that it freezes. Peach's special power is to make you – yes, you – into a massive simp.
When Peach launches into her ultimate, her eyes light up in pink before she flips over into gymnastic splits and kicks the ball so that it moves in a delicate, girly heart shape, making everybody on the other team fall in love with her. Then the goalkeeper catches the ball and throws it into his own net because Princess Peach is just that dang cute. It's funny enough that I can understand why it was pitched and included, but it all feels a little bit pathetic.
This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact Peach represents 50 percent of the female roster in the game. You can be Rosalina, who is still typically girly in her look but at least has personality in her ultimate, or you can be Peach and make everyone simp for you. Daisy's absence has never been more obvious than here.
What's most disappointing is that Mario Golf: Super Rush did this so much better. Birdo was relegated to a narrative only character in Super Rush, but Daisy, Toadette, and Pauline are there representing, alongside Peach and Rosalina. Strikers has nothing, and no narrative for other characters to make cameos in. I'm sure more will be added in time, but that's really an excuse for launching in such a thin state – and even then, it doesn't stop Peach's ultimate from being so insulting. It's one of those things that doesn't seem like a big deal in isolation, but it's all part of a larger pattern of Peach's very sexist treatment that she had been climbing out of, only to be two-footed right back in there with studs raised.
Princess Peach has long been 'the' female character in Super Mario, and it's a shame that she's still so defined by her gender in all the worst ways.
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