A simple game for everyone in the family. (March 5th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: PopCap Games, Inc.
Price: $4.99 US for iPod, $19.95 US for Mac
- Inexpensive. Easy to play. Good for short bursts of play. Suitable for everyone. Creative game boards and levels. Can replay levels.
- Sometimes screen does not clear, but you win anyway. Annoying music. Graphics can be silly.
For Christmas, I received a surprise gift from PopCap Games, the creators of Bejeweled, an iTunes card with a request to try Peggle for the iPod. I have no games on my iPod video and am reluctant to use up my precious music space, but a gift is a gift. First, I downloaded a Peggle computer demo from the site, to see what kind of diversion it represents. That was my first mistake!
Peggle is a very simple mind emptying game; which is perfect for when I have to clear out my head and switch gears from writing to database work. This isn't to say that Peggle takes no thought at all, but you don't have to concentrate, nor engage in planning, mapping, or complex strategies. Its simplicity, varied game boards, and limited strategy make it perfect for short bursts of play. It definitely fits that same space in which you might play a card game, such as Forty Thieves or Klondike. If you wonder why installing a demo of Peggle was a mistake, it is because I liked it so much, I ended up buying the computer and iPod versions, and found it addicting.
The play strategy is similar to billiards, in which you use the ball patterns, walls, and other objects to steer your bouncing ball through the maze to hit the pegs you want. Once you launch the ball, you watch it bounce through the screen. You cannot do anything else, although that old desire to shake the pinball game to move the ball is hard to ignore at first.
Peggle is vaguely like pinball, except you aim and launch the ball from a turret with your mouse or iPod click wheel, then watch the ball bounce and knock out patterns of pegs. You amass points by hitting the other ball-like pegs, which removes them from the next screen. Each game sports a pattern of blue and orange pegs. In the first round of screens you earn points for clearing all the orange pegs, more advanced screens require you remove all the pegs. A pink peg increases your points when hit and a green peg initiates a special skill for a few turns, while the blue pegs act as barriers.
When the ball falls to the bottom of the screen it just disappears. A bucket constantly traverses the bottom of the screen and if it falls into the bucket, you receive bonus points. You have no control over the bucket though. I wish they would add bucket control, so you have another item to use.
ScoringYour score is tallied by adding up the value of the hit pegs multiplied by the number of pegs hit. As you eliminate orange pegs, the value of each goes up, as does the score multiplier. The Ball-O-Tron with your remaining balls appears on the left and the Fevermeter on the right.
The Fevermeter shows you the current multiplier. A number of plays or special bounces give you more points, such as a long shot, a slide that takes out a whole row of tiles, or if the ball goes in the bucket. An amazing feat generates a character that congratulates you. There's no complete list of bonuses so you just have to learn them as you go along and read the screens, because they contain tips. You earn more points if any balls are left at the end, and when the last ball falls into the final bonus hole. You can also earn free balls in a variety of ways.
The MusicA variety of annoying music plays at different points in Peggle, so I prefer to play the game with the sound almost turned off. As your ball approaches the last orange tile, the screen drops to slow motion and a cheesy version of Ode to Joy plays, plus yellow text appears that says, for some inexplicable reason, EXTREME FEVER, and. a rainbow, stars, and points highlight your win. While one of my coworkers loves this screen, I find that it gets old really fast.
iPod PeggleIt is a good game for an iPod because you launch the ball with the click wheel and watch, so you're not going to break the click wheel whipping it around. The screens and colors look great on the iPod too. I found the iPod version frustrating though, because I cannot finesse the launch angle as well as I can with the mouse.
Game ModesPeggle has four game modes and a variety of games in each mode. You learn the game play and receive tips in the Adventure mode, while Quick Play lets you replay any Adventure Mode game you've already completed. Duel mode pits you against the computer or iPod or another player, while the Challenge mode presents you with feats that are more difficult. There 75 different screens in the Challenge mode alone and you get to choose your special skill. You progress to Master and Grand Master as you move through the levels, and there may be another level, I have yet to achieve. The tricks to win the higher levels are to earn free balls and hit the pink bonus peg.
There are some minor bugs that do not affect game play. In the Challenge mode, some of the orange pegs remained on screen even though Peggle said I won. Anytime your cursor wanders off the playing board, the game automatically pauses. It is very easy to move your mouse off the board by accident, which is only a problem if you've enabled the arcade-style flippers. When the game resumes, the flippers do immediately work right.