Super Mario 3D World producer Yoshiaki Koizumi says that the decision to bring Princess Peach back as a playable character — after a very long hiatus — was a deliberate one.
"I feel like Mario games, as you know, have done lots of representation of male characters over the years," he told Polygon. "Perhaps much more so than female — so it's actually really nice to be able to have a female playable character in the game."
Princess Peach hasn't been a playable character in main series Super Mario title since her 1988 debut in Super Mario Bros. 2. While she has appeared as a playable character in most of the series' spin-off franchises, such as Super Smash Bros, she's been on the sidelines — and often kidnapped — in Mario's main adventures.
Game director Koichi Hayashida revealed that Peach wasn't in the original plans for the game, but Koizumi brought up the idea and told the team that they should "definitely" include her.
"I think she adds a lot to the sense of competition when you get in multiplayer," said Koizumi. "You can have different people choosing different characters based on their personality or whoever they like. And princess Peach is just really a lot of fun to play!"