Good news, everyone!* Princess Peach is playable in the new Super Mario, Super Mario 3D World, coming out for the Wii U.
Aside from the introduction of the new cat-suit powerup, this game is also exciting because it is the first time Peach has been a playable character in a main-series Mario game (ie, the platformer staples that have been the core of the Mario series since the series began) since 1988 in Super Mario Bros. 2. She has appeared as a playable character in many Mario titles since then, but none within the primary line of platformers.
Her inclusion is no casual toss-in. The developers consciously made sure to include her– Yoshiaki Koizumi, the producer of the game, said in an interview with Polygon:
I feel like Mario games, as you know, have done lots of representation of male characters over the years, perhaps much more so than female — so it’s actually really nice to be able to have a female playable character in the game.
Understatement aside, it’s nice to see Nintendo being self-aware about their representation practices. Peach is, and has always been, a character integral to the game’s world. Though in the early stories it was merely as the “damsel in distress”, over time she has grown her own personality and motives, and has worked with Mario to save the Mushroom Kingdom time and time again. Giving her more agency by making her playable is a great way not only to cement her importance, but also bring her role to the fore of the player’s consciousness. She’s out there with everyone else, doing the same things and looking better than ever while doing it.
Even while rocking the pink catsuit.
*Did you just read this in Farnsworth’s voice? I hope you did.