Peggle is what every casual game wishes it could be – popular with the entire spectrum of gamers instead of just casual gamers who visit shockwave.com on their lunch break and play Bejeweled for free for 30 minutes. Peggle began life as a PC game, but after seeing a successful sequel it is available for DS and 360 as well. The 360 version is a straight port of the PC original (no Peggle Nights content here like you can find on the DS version, but it costs $20 less so it’s hard to complain) – good level design, interesting character abilities, and maddeningly difficult challenge courses.
Peggle is a bizarre cross of pachinko, pinball, and plinko (from The Price is Right). You begin a normal level with 10 shots, a field full of blue and orange pegs and bricks, and a bucket moving back and forth across the bottom of the screen. Clear all of the orange pegs and bricks to win the level, and if you manage to get the ball in the bucket you will earn an extra shot. Accumulating 25,000 and 50,000 points also nets you an additional shot. Character abilities are activated by hitting special green pegs or bricks and vary between each character. One will give you a dotted line guide (much more useful on 360 than on PC), while another will tweak your next shot for you. Other powers include multiball, pinball flippers, a fire ball that burns through pegs and bricks instead of bouncing, and transforming the extra ball bucket into an extra ball pyramid.
Adventure mode is really an elongated tutorial for challenge mode where you will be tasked with eliminating 45 orange pegs instead of 25, completing a board with only one shot, and beating the Peggle masters on all available difficulty levels. Adventure mode introduces you to the basic game mechanics and the scenarios in which each master is best suited for the job. Challenge mode allows you to play as whomever you want but makes up for that freedom by being especially difficult. In turn it makes up for being difficult by feeling much more rewarding to win.
Peggle has two multilayer types – duel and peg party. Duel can be played on a single console and consists of two players firing shots at the same field (if your buddy takes the first green special power peg it won’t be there for you to nab it next turn). The player with the most points at the end of the game wins. The game ends either when both players are out of shots or all of the orange pegs are cleared. The second multiplayer type is peg party. For no reason I can think of peg party can only be played via Xbox Live. Sure, over XBL all players can shoot simultaneously, but each player’s field is separate so waiting for friends on the couch to take their shot wouldn’t ruin the game type. A peg party is made up of two to four players. Each player chooses a peggle master and plays the level independently of his or her opponents. After each shot the scores are tallied so you can see who is winning, and after everybody clears the board or runs out of shots the game is over.
Peggle is simple but challenging, straight-forward but clever, and repetitive but fun. It is exactly what a good puzzle game is supposed to be, but after playing the PC version it is painfully obvious that analog sticks are not how this game was meant to be controlled. Peggle is best experienced with a decent mouse so that you’re absolutely sure where you’re aiming. The addition of peg party multiplayer isn’t enough to make the 360 Peggle’s standout platform. If you abhor sitting at the computer to play games or desperately need another version of peggle then the 360 version is a solid buy, and you’ll have a lot of fun with it – just don’t be surprised when you buy the game and its sequel again on PC next time Steam is running a sale.
Pros: Fun, challenging, additional multiplayer mode over PC original
Cons: Analog sticks aren’t as precise as a mouse, no Peggle Nights content
Plays Like: Peggle Dual Shot, Peggle (PC), Peggle Nights, Pachinko
ESRB: E for Everyone