PopCap rarely create a bad game. They are masters of simple, addictive fun. And Peggle is no different.
The levels are all very similar, in that they consist in a large number of blue pegs and bricks, and a smaller number of orange ones. The goal is to launch a ball from the top of the screen, hitting as many of each colour as you can, and ultimately hit everything orange. The more blue you hit on the way, the better your score. Firing the ball is one of ten characters. On the initial playthrough of the Adventure mode, you must use a set character, a new one unlocking once you complete five of the fifty five levels. Each character has a special power, activated by hitting a green peg. Some powers are good, some not so much, but all are unique.
That is Peggle, summed up in one short paragraph. Surely a game that can be described in full can not be that good... Wrong!
Peggle is a game that you have to play to have an opinion. It's unlike any other puzzle game available in the XBLA library, offering so much fun and a sense of humour which really sets the game apart from other puzzlers. Completing a level triggers "Extreme Fever", setting off fireworks and playing the classical track, Ode to Joy, making the feat seem so much more dramatic and turning the player into a temporary hero. It is one of the most amusing moments I have experienced in a game, and surely one of the best musical decisions in recent gaming history.
As stated earlier, the entire game is so simple, which is one of the main reasons that the game works. There are no voice overs, just short paragraphs from each character with the ever present sense of humour means that no time is wasted on cut scenes and unnecessary filler, and the gameplay is uninterrupted and consistent. It is so easy to lose hours to the game, with the long adventure mode and equally extensive challenge mode. It really has great value for money and shows that PopCap have not only conquered the PC market, but could easily do the same on XBLA. Their games are perfect for the service and tick all of the boxes that every Arcade game should.
The characters in Peggle are incredibly varied, as are the powers that they possess. The powers range from fireballs to space blasts to multiball, and each one changes the style of play completely. For example, the precision power will be more useful towards the end of the level, where the Zen Ball will be amazing for clearing out lots of pegs at the start. The range of powers and the amount of levels make it very hard for the game to become repetitive. Add to this the fact that the orange pegs are randomly placed each time means that no level will ever be the same time after time.
There are some multiplayer modes for Peggle, and although they add no new gameplay elements, it is enormous amounts of fun to play with friends. There is the standard Duel mode where players take it in turns to take a shot. Whoever scores the most wins, but that's not really why you should play Duel mode. Play with a friend and it's such a fun experience. You get to see their shot in full, the awesome, lucky shots and the badly judged shots, it's so amazing to share this with a friend and will no doubt bring a smile to both players. The other mode is Peg Party. This mode gives each player the same board, and is basically up to four players trying to score as many points as they can, but they each have their own playing board this time. Everyone takes their turn at the same time and after each turn the points are updated for everyone to see. In many ways this is a more competitive mode than Duel, as players can use all the skills they have gained from Adventure mode in a way that they can't really in Duel. In Duel it is harder to plan your next shot because some of the pegs vital to said shot could be taken away in the opposing player's turn. This can't happen in Peg Party though, and this, coupled with the fact that there can be four overall players, makes it a much more interesting and competitive mode.
The thing about Peggle is, anyone can play it, and will almost certainly love it. That fact that it's so simple to pick up and play, and is available on every platform I can think of, means that there is really no excuse for trying it out. Whether you're a hardcore gamer into Call of Duty, or a casual gamer into Family Game Night, Peggle will charm you with colourful characters, sense of humour, and gameplay that suits the gamer's needs.
Peggle is available now for 800 MSP.