I hate PopCap. With a passion. Not content with making Bejewelled Blitz on Facebook, complete with a high score table and a cheat that somehow makes your girlfriend somehow beat your high score, they make Peggle Nights (You know, that sequel to the great rainbow of joy inducing bagatelle?) free to download. WHY DO THEY DO THIS TO ME!? I HAVE OTHER GAMES TO PLAY DAMMIT!
So, let me recap while I wipe the froth from my mouth, Peggle Nights is available for the princely sum of 0¥, with only a relatively painless signup to Popcap Passport required, meaning that I have (again) shelved Bioshock 2, Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age to play this damn game made of joy. Unless you’ve been living in a basement for the past few years, you should know that Peggle is about shooting balls down onto a board of pegs to light them up, while some creature, ranging from a pumpkin to a unicorn, tells you how well you’re doing. You know, just like that time in Nursery when you sniffed too much glue and thought the carers were unicorns and everything was all rainbow like? Or was that just me?
Popcap have this innate talent for taking a simple game mechanic and making it sparkle, like Bejewelled (just a match three game) and Bookworm Adventures (Just an anagram game). If you abstract Peggle down to its bare basics like above, then it seems like a damn stup- Actually, it is a stupid idea. What’s the appeal then? What’s the secret formula? Simple: Popcap added in the wonders of bright colours and Ode to Joy, so if you don’t like this, you are officially dead inside.
The great thing about it is that it is so simple to play, and doesn’t require much thought. It isn’t a game that you play because you think ‘I want to play this game. This is my mission for today’. If you play it that way, don’t be surprised if you don’t enjoy it. If, however, you have homework to do (or a blog post to write), you’ll straight away find out that Peggle is your life.
To make it slightly more complicated, each Peggle master has a special power, ranging from the rather dull Super Guide from the unicorn to a fireball from the Dragon (Oh cliché, will you ever leave?). All of which just require you to hit a green peg to activate them. The problem is that so many of them are useless (‘This power lights up some orange pegs so you don’t have to’. Oh wow), and it is a waste of a shot half the time.
The annoying thing is that there is so little skill involved. Well, there is when I play it. When everyone else does, it is all luck. Yes, when you get a great shot that you’ve planned, you do feel awesome, but you’re just as likely to get an equal shot or better by just clicking randomly, which makes the whole thing feel somewhat cheapened when you work it out.
The other thing is that it is just more Peggle. If you didn’t enjoy the first because you weren’t hugged as a child, you won’t enjoy this either. The big thing that Popcap were shouting about was that there are now new characters. Well, that is a great idea. Except, you know, they’re at the end, and feel just like bonus levels. The first ten twelfths of the game have the 10 masters from the original. The other two are just afterthoughts. Come on PopCap! You can do so much better!
Even if you don’t like Peggle, you can’t argue with that price. Just be warned that you will end up forgetting about those big releases. Sign up here and do with that free copy what you will.
*There are several games that I can imagine would be better. CoD with Ode to Joy and unicorns? Return to reading