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Peggle Nights

Explaining why Peggle Nights is fun is as difficult as describing sound to a deaf person. You’ll understand what I’m saying, you’ll look at the screenshots and know what the game looks like, but you won’t get it. It has nothing to do with my writing ability, or your reading level, and has everything to do with the fact that PopCap has created an amazingly simple game with extraordinary complexity.

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Peggle Nights is the sequel to the award-winning Peggle, which was arguably PopCap’s most successful game since Bejeweled. It is essentially the same game as its predecessor, which means that everything is the same from the gameplay to the graphics engine to the sound effects. The lack of changes means two things: people who have never played the game will be able to pick it up very quickly and people who have played the game before will complete the adventure mode very easily.

The point of Peggle Nights is to shoot a ball (you star with 10) from a launcher at the top of the screen in a way that will allow the ball to hit as many pegs on the screen as possible before falling into a void at the bottom. You can also try to catch the ball in a bucket that moves from side to side at the bottom of the screen, which allows you to shoot the same ball again. The pegs have two colors, orange and blue. You need to clear every orange peg from the screen in order to finish a level, but you also need to hit a lot of blue pegs along the way if you want a high score or the occasional free ball. To complicate matters, your path to the pegs are blocked by walls and other obstructions, so you’ll have to find clever ways to bounce balls off the walls of the level or off other pegs. It gets to be quite challenging by the later stages.

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I plowed through the game’s adventure mode of 60 stages in a few hours. The adventure mode stands in for a true story mode and guides players through the stages in a linear order. Along the way, you will be introduced to several Peggle Masters who will train you on how to use their particular special skills. One newcomer joins the “Peggle Academy” this year. Marina, with an electrobolt, rounds out the cast of eleven Masters. I found Marina’s electrobolt, which zaps all pegs along a thin path between the ball launcher top of the screen and the bucket, to be a mostly useless addition to the game. I just didn’t think it was particularly helpful.

The real bulk of the game comes in the challenge mode. While casual fans will enjoy the adventure mode, challenge mode ups the difficulty and gives you more control. For instance, some challenges only give you one ball to complete and entire level, so every single shot is of vital importance. But, you can also select which Peggle Masters special shot you want, so if you’re partial to a certain one, it makes it a lot easier (I always go for Renfeild and his Spooky Ball, for instance).

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The challenges are thoroughly addicting and at times extremely hard. I played the original Peggle compulsively for months on end and still have yet to complete all the challenges in that game. I anticipate the same thing with Peggle Nights. There are a lot of new challenges for veteran players to sink their teeth into, including levels that challenge you to get a low score and others that task you with pulling off a certain amount style shots.

Peggle Nights has remained largely unchanged outside of the addition of Marina to the cast and trophies to celebrate high scores. While the developers did take the time to include a “download bonus levels” option, there’s still no way for users to create their own levels. Instead, we’re left at the mercy of PopCap to trickle levels to us. After seeing some of the amazing shots that players have been able to pull off in this game, I would have liked to see what kind of levels they could put together.

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Peggle Nights is largely unchanged from its predecessor, but sitting here at the end of the review with the game open in another window, it’s hard to fault the developers for that. I would have really liked a level editor, but the game is still just as addictive as the original. It is difficult to understand why it’s so fun and engrossing, but I suggest that you don’t worry about the “whys” and just start playing. That’s what I’m going to do.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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