Game Review: Peggle
Release: March 11, 2009
Available Platforms: XBLA
ESRB Rating: E
In an odd turn of events, gamers of both the hardcore and casual variety are seeing eye-to-eye…for once. PopCap, makers of Bejeweled and the newly released Plants vs. Zombies, struck gold when they released Peggle for the PC back in 2007.
Simple in concept, Peggle is easy to learn and difficult to master. Similar to the Japanese Pachinko, players are given a number of balls which are used to clear a board of pegs. The player assumes control of various characters, each with a special ability, and fires the balls, one at a time, into the field of orange and blue pegs. The goal: to clear the board of all orange pegs before you run out of balls.
At the bottom of the board, a basket sweeps left to right, right to left, back and forth, allowing players an opportunity for a free ball if the launched ball is caught. So, again, easy to learn, difficult to master. Players must focus on angles and timing and using the characters’ special abilities to master each board, because once a ball is launched, it’s completely out of their hands.
PopCap has managed to find a near-perfect formula with Peggle: it is easy enough for anyone to pick up and play, but once started, no matter how skilled a video game player they are, there’s always a challenge to be had. The 360 controller allows players to choose their shots almost as easily as on the PC; patience and the culturing of skills are still needed, but Peggle is never punishing in its execution. The art style is simple, the colors are bright, and the music is whimsical while the balls are bouncing their way amongst the pegs. But the real kicker is what comes when a board is cleared: Ode to Joy, the sound that will evermore signify victory. Finally, with the inclusion of multiplayer over Xbox LIVE, you’ve got one of the best investments you’ll ever make — and at only $10!
Really, there are no downsides to this game. Yes, it is simple — even childish — in it’s design, but I ask you: “so what?” If there must be something wrong with Peggle, allow me to say that you may lose hours of your life to this game. But if that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
Ultimately, you cannot go wrong with this game. I have yet to find a gamer, hardcore or otherwise, who has been disappointed by the Peggle experience. Just imagine the sense of accomplishment that comes when a board is finally conquered; when that last ball is on a collision course with that last orange peg; when the game suddenly slows down to draw out the experience… The thrill of victory is electric: the ball connects with the last remaining peg, activating Ode to Joy, and then continues down into one of the five bonus point slots. The colors, the sound, the experience, everything, and I mean everything, comes together in just the right way. And, really, what more could you ask for?