Friday, 1 May 2009

Peggle review!

Don't play this game... please for your own sake don't do it. Sure it looks harmless enough with its cute characters and colourful backdrops, but don't be fooled. Peggle is the gaming equivalent of Crystal Meth.

For those of you who don't know what Peggle is it's the prodigal brainchild of Popcap games (Whose mission statement seems to be to destabilize society by crippling the population with casual game addiction), the cunning bastards who stole hundreds of your hours with games such as Bejewelled 2 and Heavy Weapon.

It's a game where you shoot ball bearings out of a cannon into pegs. Not sold yet? What if I told you there were four different colours of pegs to shoot at, each with different functions to fulfill? Maybe the moving bucket at the bottom of the board; the bucket that promises another free ball with which to clear the screen of those pesky pegs if you manage to get the ball to land inside that will sway you? It could be the wide array of colourful characters each with their own unique Peggle power or the deranged hamster that pops onto the screen intermittently proclaiming your Peggle brilliance with utterances such as 'Dude-ical' and 'Wicked Awesome'. In my case I simply can't resist the ever alluring promise of the that brilliant moment when you clear the last orange peg and Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' belts out of the speakers; as the ball bearing bounces around in slow motion into one of the point buckets at the bottom of the screen releasing a shower of fireworks and partially blinding you with the flashing rainbow of joy as your score is calculated.
The aim of Peggle is to clear the screen of orange pegs whilst scoring as highly as possible. The problem is often you don't immediately have enough balls to clear the screen, so you need to earn free balls in order to complete your mission. There are two ways of doing this, you can either land the ball in the bucket at the bottom of the screen or you can aim to score 25,000 points, 75,000 or 125,000 with a single shot to earn one, two or three balls respectively. In order to help you achieve your point scoring goal there are two special varieties of peg which unlock your point scoring potential. The purple peg increases your point multiplier massively increasing your potential score. The green peg however is where the real bullion resides. It allows you the use of a special power unique to your chosen character; which can be anything from a a pair of pinball style flippers to the wonderful Zen ball that calculates the most morally sound path for your ball (i.e. it shoots the ball in the direction that will get you the most points) . The brilliance of Peggle largely lies in its ability to make a seemingly random sequence of events come across as partially controlled; allowing the game to become fiercely tactical whilst still achieving a level of lighthearted fun that isn't present in many modern games. Another aspect of its success lies in its complete simplicity; it's so tremendously easy to understand that even my parents became instantly hooked when I introduced them to it over Easter. There is really nothing wrong with this game, it is in fact perfect on a fundamental level. It sets out to be a simplistic, colourful and addictive point scoring romp and it achieves that in perpetuity.
Peggle's multiplayer element is also worthy of note with a fully functional online service and offline duel mode. The online content includes a one-on-one duel mode where players take their shots in turn to fire at the same board, battling for the highest score; and peggle party mode where up to four players play on seperate boards all fighting for scoring supremacy. In my experience the live lobbies have been easy to use and have worked pretty much flawlessly.

I love Peggle! It has consumed me in a way that no over glorified generic space marine shooter ever could hope to achieve. Furthermore, it has consumed anyone and everyone I have introduced to it. So in conclusion, Peggle is addictive like drugs and it spreads like an STI. Overall it's hard to give it anything other than 5/5 stars as its only negative attribute is that it's slowly destroying my ability to socialize.

If you think you're strong willed enough not to surrender everything you have to Peggle I strongly suggest you try it. It is available for download on both Steam and Xbox live where you can also try out a short demo. There are also variants of Peggle available for both the DS and the ipod but I will not be reviewing these.

Thanks for reading

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