Nadia's Midboss Musings: Would Nintendo's Real "Badass Princess" Please Stand Up? (Plus: Meet Ironknuckle!)

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle describes Peach as "The Badass Princess." Hah, as if! Right...?

Article by Nadia Oxford, .

A new Mario RPG is coming, and it's a crossover with Ubisoft's Rabbids franchise.

When I read that sentence back in my head, my inner voice sounds defeated and weary – as if I've just told my children that Armageddon is over, Satan is our new King, and the blasted wasteland that was once Earth will never again know a green sprout or a fresh drop of water.

OK, for real though – I'm honestly not that bothered by Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. I am not a fan of the Rabbids, mind; their energetic personalities (i.e. their tendency to act like radioactive rabbits fed exclusively on a diet of liquid sugar and coffee) wore on me super fast.


I get why kids like them, though. Kids like screaming, they like farts, and they like breaking things. I've been told Rabbids are hugely popular, especially in Europe. I can't find any data to back this up, but given how many games the bug-eyed bedlam-makers star in, I have no problem believing it.

So I'll continue to eye Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle as it develops, but if it ultimately proves to be too childish, I'll shrug, remind myself Nintendo is trying to expand its brand power with the younger crowd, and go play Super Mario Odyssey (which admittedly contains hat-wearing rabbits, but no hat-wearing Rabbids. Learn the difference. It may save your life).

I want to take a second and address one of the promotional pictures for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, though. It contains a line-up of the game's eight playable characters: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, and their Rabbid doppelgangers. Each character has a descriptor above them, e.g. Mario is "The Leader," Luigi is "The Eagle Eye," and Yoshi is "The Explosive Head" (? Not sure what that's about).

Princess Peach's description is the one that caught my eye, though: "The Badass Princess."

Speak softly and carry a pink gun.

First, I wondered "How long is Nintendo going to let the word 'badass' remain in a promotional image gearec towards kids?" Then I thought, "Does Princess Peach even count as a badass? She's more of a … 'Constantly Kidnapped-ass Princess."

Personally, I'd rank Super Mario Galaxy's Rosalina as the Mario universe's #1 Badass Princess. Heck, I'd rank her as the Mario universe's #1 badass, period. I'm pretty sure she's capable of killing galaxies before breakfast and creating new ones after lunch. She took a trip across the universe on a comet and subsisted almost exclusively on candy. If Rosalina wasn't benevolent, Mario would be in serious trouble.

Daisy gets my vote for #2 Badass Princess. She doesn't have Rosalina's world-ending powers, but she could thrash my ass in any sport of her choosing. I get winded when I go downstairs to fetch the mail, but I still wouldn't refuse a sporting challenge from Princess Daisy. She'd probably give me a swirlie if I turned her away.

Daisy got kidnapped once, said "Yeah, that's not happening again," and learned how to defend herself using various pieces of sports paraphernalia. Daisy x Casey Jones OTP.

Peach, though? "Peach" and "Badass" just don't compute in my mind. Not at first.

See, I had a serious discussion with my husband about the issue. He believes Peach lets herself get kidnapped every so often just to get away from her Courtiers: Her retainers, her handmaidens, and the smothering Toadsworth. It makes sense. I guess if I had to listen to a mushroom-man "Tally ho!" and "Pip pip!" all day, I'd speed-dial Bowser every so often and ask if I could crash at his place for a while. ("'How long?' Oh, just 'til Mario picks me up. The usual.")

The original Super Mario RPG certainly indicates Peach has a thirst for adventure that she's forced to wrest out of her guardians' grasp. She also had no problem stepping up to the plate in Super Mario Bros 2, New Super Mario Bros U, or Super Mario 3D World.

I suppose voluntarily slipping away from the responsibilities of running a kingdom isn't easy. Despite her title, Princess Daisy doesn't seem to have any responsibilities fitting of royalty (or she doesn't care), and Rosalina – well, she's the Queen of the Universe. She can do what she wants.

This is your daily reminder that you're only alive because Princess Rosalina allows it.

When you scratch away at Peach's fuzzy exterior, you find someone who's far less helpless than her bewildered "Ohhh did I wiiiiin?" Smash Bros victory quote lets on. Maybe a woman who keeps Toads under her dress for self-defense is worthy of being called a "badass."

Rosalina can will Peach out of existence by snapping her fingers, though, so she's still the Mario universe's #1 A+ badass.

Featured Midboss of the Week

My first Zelda game was Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. I played it in the early '90s, and I hate Ironknuckles now as much as I did when I was 11. These deadly palace guards are the perfect picture of insecurity: They're covered from head to toe in plate armor, but they still carry an impenetrable shield that they flip up and down as eagerly as a magician flips a trick coin. Landing a hit on an Ironknuckle is arguably one of Zelda II's most consistent challenges, especially since those iron-dipped jerkwads soak up a lot of damage.

Hyrulian hit-and-runs are pretty brutal.

Your best hope for victory is to jump and attack at the same time, like a weird tunic-clad velociraptor. Majestic.

The only thing worse than Ironknuckle is its horse-mounted counterpart, Rebonack. He flies into the fray suddenly, without so much a how-do-you-do (or at least a glimpse of a ceiling-curtain to alert you to the seriousness of the impending fight). Once you kick him off his stupid hover-horse, he becomes a regular blue Ironknuckle. But that's like saying "Once you shave off a lion's mane, it becomes a regular pissed-off cougar." Blue Ironknuckles fling a hail of sharp projectiles at you in addition to defending themselves with a shield that's thicker and sturdier than the lead lining Yucca Mountain.

By the way, the projectiles Link fires from his sword when he's at full health are utterly useless against Ironknuckles of all colors. The projectiles from a blue Ironknuckle's sword, however, can turn Link into a pincushion. Gee whiz, I don't understand how an unarmored elf-boy's encounter with an iron-plated warrior could go so terribly wrong.

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Comments 14

  • Avatar for amightysquall958 #1 amightysquall958 10 months ago
    Watch Out For Fireballs covered Super Princess Peach recently. Peach staring in a game? Good! Using her emotions as her special weapon? Baaaaaaad.
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  • Avatar for yuberus #2 yuberus 10 months ago
    I don't know how I figured out the right timing to jump slash Ironknuckles as a kid, but it's pure muscle memory to the point where coming back to Zelda II decades later, I can still shred them consistently. More than I can say about the fifth palace boss.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #3 LBD_Nytetrayn 10 months ago
    Hey, I never said she wants to be kidnapped, just that she yearns to be free of the rules brought upon by her station in life. (And that's why she likes Mario so much.)
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #4 Roto13 10 months ago
    I find it hard to get mad about Rabbids in a world where Minions exist.
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  • Avatar for Tetragrammaton #5 Tetragrammaton 10 months ago
    Maybe "badass" is aspirational? Maybe in future Mario games and spinoffs she'll personally deliver wildfire(flowers) to Bowser's Castle.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #6 LBD_Nytetrayn 10 months ago
    Deleted May 2017 by LBD_Nytetrayn
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #7 LBD_Nytetrayn 10 months ago
    I thought it was kind of badass how when Bowser showed up and kidnapped that Sprixie at the start of Super Mario 3D World, she was the first one into that pipe, giving chase to a monster that had kidnapped her so many times before when someone else was in trouble.

    Then Nintendo was all like

    And now we've got to rescue her again in Super Mario Odyssey.
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  • Avatar for benjaminlu86 #8 benjaminlu86 10 months ago
    Peach had a good run in Paper Mario and TTYD. Also the best Melee player in the world plays Peach.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #9 MetManMas 10 months ago
    @benjaminlu86 She had her moments in Super Paper Mario, too. She ain't about to take crap from Francis and his dating sim.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #10 MetManMas 10 months ago
    Really disappointed by how quick Nintendo is to relegate Peach back to generic kidnappee status. The sports games, RPGs, spinoffs, and the rare playable roles in the platformers have shown time and time again that much more interesting stuff could be done with Peach besides her being a trophy* for Mario to take back from Bowser.

    But nope, it's always back to the boring old status quo. MONSTER KIDNAP GIRL MAN SAVE. And the one time she had top billing they gave her PMS Powers. =/

    * Speaking of, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 had Wario literally trying to save (Okay, STEAL) a solid gold statue of Princess Peach from pirates who stole it. I choose to see this as a commentary on Peach's usual role in Mario games.
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  • Avatar for Vonlenska #11 Vonlenska 10 months ago
    Adventure Time's Princess Bubblegum kind of demonstrates the largely untapped potential of the character, too. Peebs is basically Peach with a consistently interesting personality, scary intelligence, weird backstory and somewhat alarmingly perhaps way too much agency given what she gets up to in the lab half the time.

    There are seeds of that in the RPG iterations of Peach, but at the end of the day, I guess Samus is the only Nintendo Princess allowed to be cool, and that's an accident they seemed intent on "fixing" anyway. Still want my Legend of Tetra.
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  • Avatar for Vonlenska #12 Vonlenska 10 months ago
    Also just to add, one thing I love about Bubblegum is that she's both stereotypically feminine and interesting. At the same time. Somehow way too many writers have an inability to conceive of "girly" and "[insert things that make fictional people interesting]" as coexisting in a single character. When we do get well written female characters in games, they tend to follow a tomboy/manic pixie mode that's not nearly so pink-and-Lisa-Frank-things-everywhere. The latter generally gets coded for low intelligence, superficiality, banal personality, etc.

    Peach would be a counterexample, but alas.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #13 riderkicker 10 months ago
    Is Daisy also the Jewish Princess of the Mario Universe?
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  • Avatar for Lord-Bob-Bree #14 Lord-Bob-Bree 10 months ago
    I don't know about Zelda 2, but Iron Knuckles in OoT gave me a lot of trouble when I was young. I always ended up using Nayru's Love against them.
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  • Avatar for SkywardShadow #15 SkywardShadow 10 months ago
    Rosalina quickly became my favorite Mario character.
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