Peggle Nights Review (Xbox 360)

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Peggle Nights Publisher: PopCap Games
Developer: PopCap Games

Platforms: PC, Mac and Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360

It's not enough to attend the Peggle Institute, bouncing balls through fields of pegs, falling into Extreme Fever when pegs are eliminated and racking up high scores. In Peggle Nights, the instructors of the Peggle Institute share their dreams, allowing players to live out their peg-eliminating fantasies in even more levels of Peggle-style fun.

Kyle Ackerman

In Peggle, PopCap transformed simple, pachinko-style play into a physics-based puzzle game with more than your recommended daily allowance of charm and surprisingly plentiful replayability. The game was all the more remarkable in that it took hard-core gamers by storm just as much as casual gamers, possibly thanks to its inclusion in The Orange Box compilation that also introduced Portal.

Peggle Nights revisits the Peggle Institute, with the same style of play, but with levels inspired by the dreams and fantasies of the Institute's instructors. The unicorn Bjorn dreams of fighting crime in a cape, while the alien Splork dreams of his heroic career as a professional bowler. Both Peggle games take elements from Pachinko, having players hurl balls into a field of pegs, but with complications. Struck pegs are eliminated, and players need to hit all the orange pegs in a level to progress. Additionally, players can borrow the powers of instructors at the Peggle Institute to improve or transform their peg-rebounding game.

Just as the Xbox 360 version of Peggle was a perfect port of the version released for the PC, Peggle Nights is the same great game that was released for the PC, with one major difference. While Peggle Nights was released as a stand-alone game for the PC, it's technically expansion content for the Xbox 360 version of Peggle. That means you have to own the original game to be able to access Peggle Nights. Of course, given how much I enjoyed the original game, that's hardly a handicap, and the advantage is that as expansion content, Peggle Nights only costs $5, making it a great deal. My only complaint concerning the Xbox 360 versions of Peggle games is that on the PC, the ball fires toward where the mouse pointer is located. On the Xbox 360, there's no pointer, so it requires incrementally more skill to know where the trajectory arrow will send your ball.

The levels in Peggle Nights are a notch better than those in the original Peggle, but aren't really what makes the game even cooler than its predecessor. The adventure mode merits a quick play-through for fun and to unlock the various instructors. Visuals are crisp and the soundtrack is surprisingly groovy – still playable after many hours. There's even a new instructor: Marina is an underwater denizen who fires an arc of electricity that eliminates everything between the first peg hit and the free ball bucket. As before, the real challenge is in racking up the right combinations of pegs to achieve unbelievably high scores and clear the play field.

What Peggle Nights adds to the original game is a series of trophies that track your achievements, and a Challenge mode that is a lot more interesting and challenging than in the original Peggle. In the first Peggle, I cut a swath through the various challenges like I was wading through a wheat field with a razor-sharp scythe. Peggle Nights, on the other hand, offers a series of far-from-easy challenges. To get a trophy (after the first few awards) I had to complete tasks such as beating six random levels in a row, besting Peggle Masters in duels, or beating levels while keeping my score below a certain threshold. I thought that good trajectory intuition and a little physics would keep me cruising through, but the Peggle Nights challenges required real effort to master.

Peggle Nights improves on everything that made the original game so entertaining, and is an easy purchase to recommend to anyone who owns the original Peggle.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on November 21, 2009 1:30 PM.

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