Good gravy. We knew Peggle was dangerously addictive on the PC, but this is ridiculous! We just spent the last half-day playing straight through, and we still haven’t had enough. We’re going to fall right back off the wagon tomorrow.
This so-called casual game will eat the rest of your App Store collection for breakfast and wash it down with whatever remains of your spare time. It’s a brilliant fit for the iDevice, too… so much so that we’re now thinking of our iPhone as our “Peggle machine.”
The beaver approves!
Peggle is a seemingly simple game that’s loosely based on the Japanese pastime of Pachinko. A directional nozzle at the top of the screen launches a ball through a board full of colored pegs and bricks. The goal is to hit all the orange objects on the board before you run out of balls.
Touching the screen points the nozzle, with an aiming line to show where the ball’s headed. A virtual dial allows for fine adjustments. As the ball bounces around the board, the pegs and bricks it hits light up, and then disappear a few seconds later. Most balls fall through the bottom of the screen and are lost, but some are caught and recycled by a bonus bin that travels from side to side.
At first blush, Peggle looks like a game of chance. You point the nozzle, you shoot, and the ball bounces around a bunch according to the whims of the pegs. But in fact, this game asks a lot of the player–it just does it in such a subtle way that you’ll hardly realize you’re adapting.
For instance, you will very quickly learn that it’s best to let the balls start high, and take their own course down the board. With more experience, you will see how balls ricochet across the screen off of pegs and bricks, and start to aim accordingly. You will find yourself timing the movement of the bonus bin, attacking clusters of pegs systematically to conserve ammo, and routinely making shots that once seemed impossible.
Meanwhile, Peggle keeps sprinkling in new tricks to keep you off-balance and force you to adapt. There are purple pegs that jack up your score during a shot, improving your chance at a free ball; there are bonuses for long shots and stylish moves; and, finally, there are the all-important green pegs, which activate your special abilities.
These special powers are the highlight of the game. The game’s Adventure mode is split into 11 chapters of five stages each, and the first 10 chapters are staffed by a wacky Peggle Master who has a new power to teach you. Every time you hit a green peg, you get to use that master’s technique.
The powers are as inventive as the Peggle Masters are bizarre. For example, the Francophone lobster grants you pinball flippers on either side of the screen, useful for punching the ball back into the air and hitting more pegs. The jack-o-lantern offers up the “spooky ball,” which pops right back up to the top of the screen after falling through the bottom. And the fast-talking magical rabbit–who sounds like he’s trying to sell you a time share–spins a wheel to see what kind of bonus you get.
These powers may be weird, but they are essential for earning your Peggle Diploma and making it to the final stage. Here, you get your choice of all 10 powers… a good thing, because these last five levels are next to impossible.
If you manage to make it past these, 40 additional challenges await. And then there’s Duel mode, where you race against a friend or the CPU for the high score on a single level. Let’s just say you won’t be running out of Peggle anytime soon.
Peggle looks great on the iPhone. The scaled-down graphics are sharp, and you can zoom in on shots to perfect your aim–although we noticed that the ball path tracer doesn’t always stretch into the zoomed-in screen. The “Ode to Joy” theme that plays at the end of the level is funny the first few times; 40 times in, not so much. iPod soundtrack is enabled.
Basically, Peggle is everything we want in an iPhone game. It’s got a wry sense of humor, a solid presentation, hours upon hours of content, perfectly balanced and nuanced gameplay, a great learning curve, excellent controls… and anyone can play it! Don’t miss this one, folks.