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“Peggle Deluxe” review

by on Mar.23, 2010, under PC Game Reviews

Game: Peggle Deluxe
Developer: PopCap Games

If Niko Bellic was a drug runner, he’d probably be importing this game by the truckload.

Despite on-going debate regarding the relative merits of casual and hardcore games, it seems obvious to me that there is a place for both in the video gaming world. If I feel particularly inspired to spend a few hours relaxing, chances are I’ll fire up the Xbox 360 and explore the more debauched environs of Liberty City on my motor scooter. If I’m waiting for the pasta to boil at dinner time, my preference will favour an XBLA title or one of PopCap Game’s casual offerings to help pass the 8-10 minutes required in lieu of staring at the proverbial “watched pot.” Although PopCap’s number one seller, Peggle Deluxe, has been around for over a year now, casual games tend to have an extended sales window compared to their hardcore equivalents … which is just my excuse for a belated review as the game completely slipped under my radar a couple of February’s ago. As I was “between games” the other day, I thought I’d take the opportunity to check it out. Note that if you live in Australia, you can save over 50% on the purchase price by buying the game off Steam rather than direct from PopCap Games; the same deal may also apply to other countries.

Peggle Deluxe’s game play revolves around the player clearing a succession of screens full of multi-coloured pegs by firing a ball from the top of the screen and watching on as gravity and your basic understanding of geometry affects the path the ball takes. Each level is thematically based and is filled with bumpers, obstructions and moving objects that you will need to avoid or take advantage of in order to clear the playing field. As with most casual games, understanding the game mechanics is a no-brainer; simply point the gun using your mouse and click to fire the ball. You can finish a screen by clearing all the orange pegs found in each level; however bonuses can also be garnered by clearing purple pegs as well as executing spectacular shots that will generate “style points.”

To help you in your quest, you will select one of ten “Peggle Master’s” who will imbue your ball with a unique power or special effect if you can hit one of the green pegs found on each screen. For example, selecting “Jimmy Lightning” will grant you multi-ball play while “Bjorn Unicorn” will display the trajectory the ball will take after it hits a peg. Choosing the right “Master” to help you on a screen can make a world of difference in how easy or difficult that play through will be. Having trouble clearing the “Spiral of Doom” level? Perhaps the problem is that you are using “Renfield” and his Spooky Ball is destroying patterns that you want to clear with a follow up shot. Losing the ball near the sides too often? Maybe “Claude Lobster’s” flippers can help you out? The combinations and permutations are endless and figuring out how to clear all 55 levels as well as the plethora of mind numbingly difficult challenges can easily turn your well intended casual gaming session into a marathon that extends well into the wee small hours!

PopCap Games have done an impeccable job in ramping up the difficulty of the game as you progress. While randomly firing balls might clear some of the early stages, you will eventually need to start identifying specific patterns on each screen that can be cleared with a well aimed shot. It’s successfully pulling off these intended maneuvers that make the game so satisfying; you can even save your really spectacular feats as replays and play them back to impress your friends. It’s also safe to say that eventually you WILL reach a level that will frustrate you for dozens of repeated attempts. Unfortunately, Peggle Deluxe is so darn addictive that even when you’re faced with these discouraging events it can be nigh on impossible to drag yourself away from the game. As a last resort, you can always turn your brain off and try the “suck it and see” method to solve challenges, and I can confirm that several of my attempts have been described by my peers as “complete and utter bulls**t.” Trying to convince them that it was an exercise in “perfect spatial awareness and geometrical analysis” was treated with the derision and scepticism the comment deserved! Those of you interested in seeing the results of one of these shots can check out the video at the end of this article.

The game is well suited for children (both the grown-up and pre-pubescent variety) with enough sound-effects, music soundtracks and fluorescent graphics provided to keep even the most hyperactive youngling glued to their ergonomic computer chair. There is even a Duel option where parents can match wits with their offspring in a friendly game by taking shots in turn and seeing who can get the highest score.

Peggle Deluxe is another fine example of why PopCap Games are considered one of the best casual game developers in the marketplace today. It’s a pure dopamine hit that will have you punching the air when you pull off that one in a million shot, even though it took you an hour to get there. Just don’t forget to check on the pasta …

Game play Video
The “350,000 Puntos” level requires you to score at least 350,000 points when clearing the screen. I managed 382,800 with one shot. You can view the video here (1.62MB.)

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