Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: PopCap Games
Online Multipllayer 2-4
If you love simple happy go lucky puzzle based games, then you no doubt know the game developer PopCap Games. They have been making games just like I described for quite some time. With such well known hits as Bejeweled, Feeding Frenzy and Zuma, Xbox LIVE Arcade fans should know them well. Well they have a game that has caused quite the sensation on various platforms, and this game is known as Peggle. Although the game was released in mid-March or so we here at GameBoyz have not gotten to reviewing it until now, and I have to say that it has been hard to put down the controller long enough even to type up this review as I can’t stop playing.
Peggle is very bright and vibrant game. Who would have thought that a simple puzzle game could look this good? Don’t get me wrong, it definitely does not tax the hardware of the Xbox 360, but what is there is clean, colorful and very cheery looking. There are a total of 10 different master characters that you play as, from a unicorn or mole to a jack-o-latern or sunflower. It is pretty crazy but it just makes sense in the world of Peggle. The level design is pretty slick too, with various backgrounds behind the pegs and blocks that populate the screen. All in all I was pretty happy the visuals in Peggle given that I have played my wifes DS version and XBLA version is so much cleaner and easier on the eyes.
The audio found in Peggle adds to the overall experience. From the relaxing tunes that play in each level to the sound of the ball bouncing off the pegs, you do feel a sense of satisfaction. Should you make one of those magical shots that allow for the ball to bounce all over the screen, the pitch of the ‘bounce-sound’ gets higher and higher as the ball hits more and more pegs. It has a strange feeling contentment to it as you are very aware that the number of pegs you hit is high resulting in a higher score. Of course one of the highlights of Peggle is the music that plays at the end of a successful board, but I speak about this below. Overall there is nothing to be disappointed in the audio area of this game.
Peggle is the most simple of games to play, but it yet it has more depth then people think. The simplest way to explain it, for those who have been living under a rock for the past two or three years, is that it is a computerized version of the Japanese game Pachinko. You fire small steel balls and watch them bounce to the bottom through a large board filled with pegs. In Peggle you aim and fire a ball from the top of the screen and watch it make its way down to the bottom. Amongst all the onscreen pegs are a various number of orange pegs and your goal is to take all of the orange pegs out before you run out of the allotted number of balls. As you try to take out all the orange pegs you also earn points for the blue pegs you hit. There is also a moving bucket at the bottom of each board and should you manage to shoot the ball into the bucket, after a series of peg bounces, you get to keep that shot and get a free ball.
Where the strategy in the game comes in is the time that you will spend finding creative and interesting ways to hit some of the orange pegs. The blue pegs can be a hindrance as they block what could be a simple shot to take out the various orange ones. However, scattered amongst the blue and orange pegs are green and purple pegs too. The green ones give you power ups that are dependent to the master character that you are playing as, while the purple ones give you bonus points. You will find that you will take a lot of time lining up that perfect shot in order to hit as many pegs of all different colors as possible. The reward for that one perfect shot cannot be simply described, but man does it feel good to see your ball bouncing all over the place taking out so many pegs. I can tell you that I have spent many an hours in my efforts for shot perfection.
Once you clear out all the orange pegs you are treated with a musical and visual treat to show you completed your task at hand. As Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” plays, there is a rainbow of colors displayed on screen to treat you a small fireworks like show that rewards you for your efforts. Trust me; you have to experience it to really appreciate it.
There are a total of 55 boards available in the XBLA version of Peggle, and although this may not seem like a lot given the recent release of the aforementioned DS version with 125 boards. On a side note I have to say that my wife is very addicted to the DS version. However included in the XBLA version are 75 Grand Master Challenges which should challenge even the most Peggle savvy. PopCap also included multiplayer play on the Xbox 360 version as there is the addition of Live Dual and Peg Party modes. The Duel Party mode can be played locally and will have you and a friend trading turns on the same peggle board in an effort to get the highest score. Peg Party on the other hand takes the peggle play online for up to four players. Each player has their own board on their TV and once again the fight is on for high score. Both of these modes are not particularly invigorating, but they are a good time given that you are spending some time with friends, online or not, playing what is quite an addicting game.
Peggle is no doubt one of the more addictive games available on the Xbox LIVE arcade. It will place a strange trance upon you as it sucks many hours of gameplay away. If I can find any fault with it it is that there could have been more boards available, as evidenced by my wife’s DS version which includes 125 boards. That being said, there is still a lot here and everyone from the casual to the hardcore gamer alike can do no wrong by purchasing this game. At 800 MS points it is a pretty good deal.