So, are you tired of hearing about Peggle yet? The game came out in February 2007, captivating both critics and fans as it went on to win the Academy of Iteractive Arts & Sciences Overall Game of the Year award. Since then, Peggle has become a necessary purchase for gamers of all skill levels and has spawned a full-fledged sequel with 2008’s Peggle Nights. Players couldn’t help but get addicted to the gameplay, despite the fact that it features about the least interactivity possible to still be considered a game and is as much about luck as it is skill. The latest addition to the series, a version of the original game for the iPhone and iPod Touch, has quickly become one of the most purchased Apps available.
In Peggle, your mission is to become a Peggle master by conquering the challenges set forth for you by a cast of talking animals with magical powers. Opening up a level, players are greeted by a field of 100 pegs, the majority of them blue. Mixed in the blue pegs are special orange pegs that must be hit in order to beat the level. Using a ball fired from a canon at the top of the screen, players need to bounce the ball across the field of pegs. Once a peg is hit by the shiny metal ball, it lights up, activating it for removal from the screen once your turn is over. With only ten shots to clear all of the orange pegs, the goal is to hit as many as possible before your ball falls into the abyss at the bottom of the screen.
Peggle, at it’s simplest form, is a game about efficiency. Since you have so few shots, the challenge comes from trying to maximize the value of each shot by hitting as many pegs as you possibly can each turn. If you should manage an impressive shot, you may earn yourself a free ball, or even two if it’s a particularly amazing. You can also line up your shots so that they bounce into a bucket on the bottom of the screen that moves slowly from side to side, giving you a free shot. While most of the early levels can be cleared rather easily, the game ratchets up the challenges and the final stages can become harrowing experiences.
Fortunately, you don’t have to rely exclusively on your shots. In addition to the blue and orange pegs, there are also two green pegs randomly placed around the screen, giving you access to the previously mentioned magic powers of the Peggle masters. Some of the abilities are kind of lame, such as a power that lets you see where your shot will bounce after you launch it, but others are very helpful. I have three that I regularly use: a space blast that activates nearby pegs, the “spooky ball” which gives you a second ball that falls from the top of the screen after your first one falls into the abyss and the zen ball where the computer take over your shot to achieve “maximum zen” (the best shot possible). These additions really add a lot to the game and add another level to the strategy.
But while you can carefully plan your every shot, a huge part of the game comes down to dumb luck. You can plan your initial shot and imagine where it might go, and if you’ve played long enough, you can even predict where it might go on the second bounce, too. But after that, your shot is left to fate as you helplessly watch your ball bounce around the screen. Sometimes you’ll get absurdly lucky and pull of an amazing shot thanks to a lucky bounce. Other times, you’ll plan ahead and get a bad bounce, ruining a perfectly good turn. While Peggle is a lot of fun, it can be frustrating that so much of the experience is dictated by chance.
Now, as far as Peggle on Apple’s fledgling handheld, not too much has changed from the original. The primary mode spans 50 levels and is complimented by a challenge mode that changes the rules for each level, thereby making them much more difficult. Replacing the mouse for aiming is an on-screen touch-sensitive wheel. To make up for the lower resolution, players can tap on any area of the field of pegs to zoom in for a closer look.
The best part about the iPod/iPhone version of Peggle is the portability of it. While the PC version of Peggle is a blast, this game was made for handhelds. It’s the perfect type of game to pick up and play while you’re trying to kill some time. Peggle comes highly recommended.