As predicted, my posting has been down a bit over the last week, and I am hoping to get a few more reviews and articles out over the next week, but we have more company next weekend, events going on the following, and then a week long camping trip. While I was pondering what to write about today, it came to me over the weekend – Peggle & Peggle Nights. Why? Because I saw a lot of this game over the weekend. Quick background:
Last summer my son went to stay with my dad down in Florida. My dad picked up a PS3 on my recommendation since a) Chris would wind up playing it a lot and b) my dad was interested in Blu-ray movies. While getting it all set up, I was trying to show my dad some games he might be interested in. He’s never been a core gamer. He played some TI Invaders, Munchman, Hunt the Wumpus and more on my TI99/4a years ago, but when the NES came out, the only games he ever put much time into were Tetris and some Dr. Mario.
Keeping the puzzler theme in mind, I introduced him to Peggle last year, and he loves it. While he was up this last weekend, my dad and I spent hours playing Peggle and the Peggle Nights expansion. My wife loves this game too – we both went through the various modes after purchasing it. Popcap games is great at creating games that appeal to the broad casual game market (as evidenced by the Bejeweled series and Plants vs. Zombies) and Peggle is another demonstration of that ability.
Graphics – 7:
The art style is nice. The backgrounds are pleasant to look at. Everything moves well. It’s really hard to rank this one any higher, despite the pleasant aesthetics though, because there is really very little happening on the screen, which is made up of lots of little dots/pegs.
Music & Sound – 8:
The music is nice – almost calming really. The end song when you complete a map is great… though after a few hundred times it does get a bit old. The sound effects are not amazing, but they work to keep the experience from being too bland. It helps set the tone for the entire experience with the steady, pleasant music in the background, emphasized by the occasional sound effect like a spaceblast ‘explosion’.
Gameplay – 9:
Menus are easy to get around, and the mechanics are very, very simple. You have a small gun/cannon at the top/center of the screen. You have a ton of small pegs (hence, Peggle) in various patterns across the bottom. The primary objective is to clear the stage by hitting each of the orange pegs before you run out of balls to shoot. There are small twists like a purple peg that moves around every turn and gives you substantial point bonuses if you connect with it. There are green pegs that give you a ‘super power’ – and these vary by the character you are using (in some modes you are restricted to a specific character, in others you can choose from any of those you have unlocked). These powers vary in usefulness, often by map, from creating multiple balls at once, to shooting lightning across the screen to ‘score’ multiple pegs. The maps themselves are quite varied as well, sometimes with moving parts, other times with portals – there is a good deal of variety here for how simple the game is. In essence, it is sort of like pinball without the flippers (except, there is actually a powerup that creates flippers as well).
Intangibles – 10:
There are a lot of characters. There are a ton of maps. There are a variety of game modes, including online. There are leaderboards. You can do local player vs. player. You can pick this game up and do a map in 3 or 4 minutes, or you can be like my father and I and spend the better part of 4 hours on Saturday night just talking and taking turns playing. Peggle Nights is an expansion that you have to buy to play, but it adds a new character and a bunch of new maps and some new trophies to earn. If you enjoy the Peggle formula – you’ll be getting more of the same, which is a good thing.
Overall – 8.5:
This is a fun game, and you can spend hours and hours on it. It may not appeal to people who are really into heavy action or story-rich games. Then again, I’m into those kinds of games as well, but have no problem spending a couple of hours at a time playing Peggle. The fact that my kids, my dad and my wife all enjoy it also speaks volumes about the game’s broad appeal. Obviously mileage will vary. My son doesn’t play it much, he’d rather play Black Ops. I’ve gotten through most of the modes and don’t play it regularly now (I’ve had the game over a year now), but will still play a few rounds here and there. My dad has taken to trying to rank online on every map in some capacity, and has also done a 100% clear of the pegs (not just the orange ones, but all pegs) on a good number of maps and still after a year can easily sink 3 or 4 hours into the game – and he’s had the game over a year himself.