Nintendo fans dub 2024 the Year of the Princesses
(Nintendo / The Mary Sue)

Nintendo Fans Have Dubbed 2024 the Year of the Princesses & They’re Absolutely Right

For Nintendo fans, 2024 is truly the Year of the Princesses.

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In March, the video game giant released Princess Peach: Showtime!, the golden-haired princess’s first solo title since 2005 and only her third in her 39 years of gameplay. Then during its June Direct, Nintendo surprised fans with a new installment in The Legend of Zelda franchise—and this time, it’s Princess Zelda herself who has to save Hyrule after her friend and guardian Link is sucked into a magical vortex.

Although Zelda is playable in Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and Hyrule Warriors, this new game, entitled The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom, is the first game in the franchise where Zelda is the sole playable protagonist. The graphics put it more in line with the 2019 game Link’s Awakening than the more recent Tears of the Kingdom, but the crafting mechanism demonstrated in the trailer is similar to how Link can fuse items in TotK to solve puzzles and get around obstacles.

Whatever its place in the Zelda canon, the princess herself finally starring in a game after 38 years is a big deal. Following so closely on the heels of Princess Peach: Showtime!, the announcement has prompted Nintendo fans to dub 2024 the Year of the Princesses—and it’s about damn time these ladies got their due.

Princess Peach: Showtime! is Peach’s first starring role in 19 years

Screenshot from Princess Peach - Showtime

Princess Peach: Showtime! released in March to a lot of fanfare, including a collaboration with Kung Fu Tea featuring three Peach-themed drinks and a promotional mini-tote bag. Although reviews were mixed, with some gamers calling the mini-game-filled adventure too easy or childlike, others reveled in the stylized levels that scaled in difficulty and the ability to collect new outfits and customize Peach and her trustee sidekick Stella’s outfits along the way.

In Showtime!, Peach and some of the Toads from the Mushroom Kingdom get trapped inside Sparkle Theater after its taken over by the villainous Grape and the Sour Bunch. To free the souls of each Sparkla (actor) to return to their stage, Peach must play through each “show” and defeat the baddies before they wreak even more havoc. Each time she succeeds, another piece of the theater is returned to normal until it’s time to fight Grape herself.

Princess Peach: Showtime! is similar to games like Luigi’s Mansion, in which he fights a bunch of ghosts at scaling difficulty to free his friends from haunted buildings. It isn’t particularly revolutionary for Nintendo, but it doesn’t have to be. Super Mario Bros. games are Nintendo’s bread and butter, and although Peach features as a playable character in games like Mario Kart, Mario Party, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, and even the crossover beat ’em up game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, her male counterparts—even Bowser!—get way more time in the spotlight.

According to Nintendo’s May financial release, Showtime! sold 1.22 million units in the fiscal year ending in 2024, which only reflects how many copies it sold in the 10 days following its release. That makes it the best-selling Nintendo Switch game in March, and while sales likely dropped in the months since, people are still talking about the game three months later—which is a good sign, and hopefully one Nintendo will take to heart in considering more Peach-centric titles for the future.

The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom hands Zelda her fate

Screenshot from The Legend of Zelda - Echoes of Wisdom announcement trailer

The announcement trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom shows the eponymous princess trapped in a purple rupee and guarded by a large, armored monster in a dark cavern. Link fights the beast to save the princess, as usual, but then something strange happens: He falls into a magical vortex and, as his final act before stumbling into the abyss, cracks the princess’s rupee prison so she can escape and save not just herself (and, probably, Link), but all of the Kingdom of Hyrule.

The Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma explains that the game features a top-down combat style in which Zelda can use items around her to fight, rather than relying on the breakable weapons Link has to contend with in other games. Accompanied by the mysterious fairy named Tri and a magical staff, she can clone things from the environment (including monsters!) to help her traverse the map and navigate battles. It’s unclear if Echoes will be more open-world or linear, but the trailer indicates a balance of exploration, action-adventure, and mini-games and puzzles.

Following the announcement during the June Nintendo Direct, fans immediately began hyping up the game on social media, many of them calling out the fact that it’s Zelda’s first solo game and celebrating the milestone.

Although we don’t know how many people have already wishlisted or pre-ordered Echoes of Wisdom, it’s sure to be another top seller for Nintendo. Its Zelda titles for the Switch have remained top sellers (including Breath of the Wild, which was released on the console in 2017) and fans have been clamoring for a game with Zelda as the main playable character for nearly four decades. It’s great that Nintendo is finally investing in its princesses, and I hope 2024 isn’t their last year on the main stage.

Princess Peach: Showtime! is available now for $59.99 in the Nintendo Switch store and at participating retailers. If you purchase the digital edition, you can download a free demo before buying. The Legends of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom will be available September 26 for $59.99 in the Nintendo Switch store and at participating retailers.

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Samantha Puc
Samantha Puc (she/they) is a fat, disabled, lesbian writer and editor who has been working in digital and print media since 2010. Their work focuses primarily on LGBTQ+ and fat representation in pop culture and their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., and elsewhere. Samantha is the co-creator of Fatventure Mag and she contributed to the award-winning Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. They are an original cast member of Death2Divinity, and they are currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School. When Samantha is not working or writing, she loves spending time with her cats, reading, and perfecting her grilled cheese recipe.