Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Game Review: Peggle

Peggle fits in nicely with casual gamers but hardcore gamers, don’t dismiss it so easily.
Peggle? Why review Peggle? Why not review Peggle? It’s a great game. Don’t take the mickey because of the fact it’s not a 50-hour RPG/Shooter masterpiece. This game may be available on the Internet, but it’s also spawned on many other different types of console.

I’ll take a step back, just in case you don’t know much about Peggle. Peggle was initially released back in 2007, but as I said, it’s been released on many consoles; the one I’m reviewing is the Deluxe version on the Xbox 360 Arcade. PopCap, the developers have Valve to thank for their storming popularity when they released it on Steam. Since then there has also been a sequel called Peggle Nights.

Peggle was inspired by a game very popular in Japan called pachinko, which is very similar to pinball but without the flippers. In a game of pachinko there are pins, and the balls and pins combination in pachinko based the layout for this game called Peggle. In Peggle, the idea is to shoot your ball in a certain direction from the top, and hit the pins (or pegs in this case, hence Peggle). It’s not quite that simple, because there are different coloured pegs – blue, orange, purple and green. The majority of the pegs are blue, and a good few are orange. The idea of “winning” a level of Peggle is by shooting your balls; you start off with ten, at all the orange pegs in the level. Sounds easy? Well the orange pegs are scattered in between all the blues, and hitting a blue peg will make it disappear. Some orange pegs are really hard to get to, which ramps up the difficulty in later levels.

There are two other colours I mentioned, purple and green. There is only one purple peg in the level at the time, and if you hit it, you get a large points bonus. Quite simple. The green pegs are what make this game spark the most. We have ten “Peggle Masters”, and if you play through the main game you will in turn use all ten masters. These ten masters do different things with the green pegs. The first is Bjorn (awful name I know), who if you hit a green peg gives you the ability to see where your shot will deflect, help you to hone your shots to get harder to find orange pegs easier. Later on there’s Tula, if you hit her green peg she will light up orange pegs in a radius around your green peg, which can be very useful. All ten Peggle Masters have their own abilities, which can be used through the green pegs, all can be useful to some capacity.
The graphics are your standard PopCap level stuff, but that's fine, because they're very colourful games, that appeal to kids easily. It's something that PopCap do well, make their games nice and colourful and accessible to kids, yet adults can not only play, but get addicted to them too. The best thing about this game, is hitting that last orange peg. If you miss ever so slightly, the screen zooms in on your ball and it goes in slow motion, and you hear the crowd sigh in disappointment. But, if you hit the ball, it zooms in again, and plays "Ode to Joy", the brilliant classical composition by Beethoven.  It's one of the best "win" songs in the history of video gaming, by one of the best composers of all time. It's a fantastic little addition to the game that makes it better for it.

This puzzle game is very simple, and very easy to play. Kids can play this game with adults, and Multiplayer is fun too. In Multiplayer mode you simply take turns to shoot balls and try to have the highest score at the end. There are also Challenges you can take part in, but you have to finish the main game first. These challenges vary, from completing one of the levels, but with more orange pegs in it, to achieving a certain amount of points in a level, to completing a level with fewer balls. This continuation from the main game is just as addictive as the game itself and prolongs the game further. You can also play online if you so wish, and you can get ranked up and down depending on if you beat your opponent or lose. There is also a Peggle Party function where you go against up to three more people on separate boards, trying to accumulate the most points.

Peggle quite simply is a great game, very simple and very accessible to anyone from small kids to adults. It’s a game you can pickup easily but will hard to put down because it’s so addictive. In a gaming era where great new puzzle games are hard to find, Peggle fits in nicely with the casual gamer audience but should not be dismissed so easily by hardcore gamers. If you have a good 30 minutes spare, play this game. It’s only 800 points on the Xbox 360; so if you can afford it don’t hesitate to download it.

Rating: ****

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