Peggle Review: A Perfect Shot

Fans of Price is Right will remember the game Plinko, where you drop a chip down a board and it bounces around wildly towards the bottom.  Wherever the chip falls, you could win no money or win the big bucks.  Take the basic fun from Plinko but add a level of skill,  and you have Peggle.  The Peggle series by PopCap has the honour of being a critical success, but porting it to the iPhone posed some unique issues.  Its success hinges on how well the player can accurately take shots on the playing field.  If there’s no accuracy, then there’s no way to play effectively and it essentially becomes a game of chance.

Peggle is played by presenting you with a stage mixed with pegs placed all over, in orange and blue colours.  Your goal is to clear all the orange pegs.  The number of balls you have to shoot is limited, and as the ball bounces towards the bottom of the screen it eventually disappears since the level is a freefall drop.  It’s up to you then to set up your shot so that it bounces on the way down, hitting as many orange pegs as possible.  Gameplay is spiced up with fun sound effects, patterns to shoot, powerups, and rewards.

The good news is that this version of Peggle works, and it works perfectly.  Any reservations you might have about how the series would fare on your device can be thrown out the window.  Accuracy is maintained by using a precision wheel.  Once you have your shot lined up, you slide a wheel on the side of the screen up or down to make a minor adjustment to the angle of your shot.  For even greater accuracy, you can double-tap on a part of the playing field to zoom in and really work out a perfect angle.  The game comes with 55 stages in the adventure mode, and another 40 challenges to keep you busy afterwards.

Likes

Give me another cookie: Peggle always does a great job of rewarding you for all accomplishments.  Each peg you hit makes a ping sound that gets higher and higher pitched, making you hope for more and more lucky bounces.  Attempts to take out the last orange peg results in camera slowdown when you get close, racketing up the tension.  Completing a level sends rainbows flying across the screen and the song ‘Ode to Joy’ plays to match your success.  All of these come together to give you a strong sense of reward for, let’s face it, not doing too much.

Controls: The controls for the iPhone version have been done surprisingly well.  You can fine tune your shots as much as you need, and everything plays exactly how the computer version of Peggle feels.  Nothing feels frustrating when planning your shots.

Nothing is left out: It’s immediately evident from the loading screen that the same charm and detail from other iterations of Peggle will be present here.  The main menu is familiar, you can fast-forward gameplay as in other versions, and even replays are saveable for those one-of-a-kind shots to show off to friends.

Dislikes

Nothing new here: While the Peggle experience has been ported perfectly to the iPhone, those that have played multiple iterations of the series already might find this a bit tiring.  This is for the simple reason that there’s nothing to excite a long-time fan.  I think this version of Peggle could have benefited from an iPhone specific character, such as one that would take advantage of the accelerometer.  The character’s powerup could be adding tilt control for a couple of turns, where you can influence your shot by tilting the iPhone.  The game just needs some sort of reason for existing fans to want to buy the game again yet again.

Although I’ve completely played through Peggle before, I still bought this version immediately upon its release and have been really, really impressed.  It’s a very addictive puzzler that has lots of content for its $4.99 price tag.  Unless you’re sick of shooting pegs, I’m recommending Peggle to everyone.  Take a shot!

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Peggle was developed by PopCap Games and is available for iPhones and iPod Touches at $4.99.  I played through version 1.0 on an iPod Touch 2G.

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