We'd be hard-pressed to come up with a casual game we've logged more hours into over the last couple years than Peggle. Actually, forget the "casual" tag – Peggle demands a hardcore level of devotion and rewards it with the ever-changing, always-addictive mix of pachinko and pinball that has made it such a hit. And now, two years after its PC debut, Peggle and its recent follow-up Peggle Nights have arrived on the Nintendo DS in the form of Peggle Dual Shot, a title that threatens to make us miss train stops and spend far too long on the can.
When we heard Lumines developer Q Entertainment would handle the Nintendo DS version, we admittedly hoped for a grand new rendition of the game – something that would infuse the clearly excellent gameplay with the immense style and flash seen in the studio's original titles. No such luck. Peggle Dual Shot is as true a port as possible on the DS hardware, and while we had to adjust our eyes from the glossy PC visuals to these fuzzier handheld pixels, it's nearly impossible to argue with two complete, brilliant puzzlers on one cartridge.
Both Peggle and its evening-set sequel use nearly the exact same template, which has players firing balls at a carefully arranged set of colored pegs in the hopes of eliminating all of the orange ones. You start with 10 balls, but more can be obtained with skilled shots or by landing the ball in the scrolling bucket at the bottom of the game board. On top of that, various odd creatures (like an anthropomorphic flower) offer you limited-use special powers, such as the ability to shoot fireballs or have an additional ball spawn on the screen.
Beyond the primary stage-clearing adventure mode, each game has an amped-up challenge mode packed with various expert objectives, as well as a relatively forgettable duel mode for single-system (alternating) multiplayer matches.
Though the core experiences remain intact, Q Entertainment did add a couple of notable things to the experience. A new Bonus Underground area in each stage lets you collect gems in an effort to unlock some of the 10 new stages created by Q for the game. The stylus controls work very well and are augmented by a zoom function that lets you adjust your aim by miniscule amounts for expert shots. A secondary d-pad (or shoulder buttons) control scheme is also included, though it takes quite a bit longer to set up your shot.
If you're one of the unlucky saps who have yet to be caught in Peggle's addictive grasp, the affordable, content-packed Peggle Dual Shot may be the best gateway to this enduringly enjoyable franchise. And if you're already a Peggle nut? Now it's portable, and it's all here. Good luck trying to talk your way out of that purchase.
Mar 6, 2009