Peggle Deluxe Review

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Peggle Deluxe Publisher: PopCap Games
Developer: PopCap Games

Platforms: PC and Mac
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: 700 MHz Processor, 256 MB RAM, DirectX 8.0, Windows 98 or more recent operating system

Bounce balls through fields of pegs with the aid of magical powers to rack up the kind of scores that will qualify you as a Peggle Master!

Kyle Ackerman

PopCap Games has refined the art of making games that are simple to play and obsessively engaging, helping the casual games industry grow from a sideshow to a business that rivals that of console game publishers. Peggle is the latest pastime from PopCap, transforming simple, pachinko-style play into 55 levels of physics-based puzzles and score-seeking challenges.

Pachinko is a long-time amusement device, in which balls fall through a box of pegs, bouncing chaotically to the bottom or into slots and baskets. Most modern pachinko machines are gambling machines in which players buy balls in the hope of winning a large jackpot.

Peggle is a long way from gambling, but a lot is left to chance. Each board is filled with pegs and blocks (usually creating themed illustrations), some of which are orange. When a ball hits a peg, the peg vanishes from the board, giving you points. Eliminating all the orange pegs clears the level. It sounds simple, but it takes some skill to clear a level, and even more skill to hit the right combinations of pegs to increase your score multiplier and rack up large numbers of points.

To help you in your quest, there are 10 Peggle masters, each of them with a special power that changes the dynamics of play. One can help you predict the path of the ball, another adds pinball-like flippers to the bottom of the screen and yet another tweaks your shot to achieve even higher scores. One play-through unlocks all the Peggle Masters so they can be used for any levels or challenges.

Just completing the Adventure mode to unlock all the Peggle masters is a noble goal. Then you can compete for high Adventure scores. But the game also supports a variety of challenges and the ability to duel an opponent. Challenges involve activities like achieving a particularly high score on a level or eliminating all of the pegs. Duels have players (two humans or a human and the AI) taking turns on the same level to see who can achieve the highest score. Between the adventure mode and the large number of challenges, Peggle can keep the average gamer busy for a long time. Especially if played casually, a few levels at a time.

Peggle is a glorious diversion. PopCap has made a successful business out of polishing simple games at low resolutions to perfection, and Peggle is no exception. The sound effects, simple music and visual effects all conspire to create a game that can hold my attention as long as it needs to. If I have a complaint concerning Peggle, it's that the simplicity of the play doesn't leave me as much replayability as many of PopCap's games do.

A keen eye for trajectories and a little practice makes it easy to learn the best way to clear each level, and strategies for truly stratospheric scores. The orange pegs and other bonus pegs do change locations, but this isn't enough to keep the game fresh, particularly once you've completed the Adventure Mode – especially after completing all of the challenges. It's a little like billiards, in that a novice can have a great deal of fun knocking a ball around the table, but an expert is very much in control of the ball, and is only going to be challenged by competing against another expert or striving to record a video of the highest scoring ball possible.

Virtually everyone will find something to enjoy with Peggle, and the game offers far more play than one might expect from its price tag, but it doesn't have the same near-infinite replayable of PopCap's other games, like Bookworm.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 21, 2007 3:46 PM.

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