It’s rubbish on paper, of course – you just aim the ball at the pegs and fire, trying to clear all the orange ones – but on iPod, DS, PC, and now Xbox 360, it’s by far one of the best games on the platform that we do love so. Slot machines make their money by creating desire - the desire to pour your hard-earned dole money into the slot in exchange for occasional reward. The best machines make money with attractive lightshows, rewards that come at precisely the right moment, and sounds that – somehow – are especially pleasing to the human ear.
In this way, Peggle is something of a slot machine affair. No other game provides audio and visual rewards the way Peggle does – as the ball pings off each peg the dings rise in pitch and urgency; each one lights up in turn creating patterns across the screen; drop the ball in the bucket and you’re rewarded with a soothing chord; and clear a board and the sounds of Ode to Joy reward you for your glorious success. Simple by design, Peggle involves just enough skill to make you feel like a wizard, and just enough luck to make you feel at times powerless and at times like the luckiest gamer on Earth.
That’s all rather reductive, of course, but there’s little more than ball-pinging and peg-lighting to reduce. There are over fifty boards to clear, and every few rounds you’ll play as a different character. Each bug-eyed fuzzy little critter has its own power – one gives you pinball flippers, another spawns a second ball, another tweaks your shot just enough to make it bounce more successfully.
Between the world’s worst mascots and the range of boards you have all the variety you need. It’s hard for most players to describe why Peggle is so good, but that’s because – like a slot machine – it’s addictive, and addiction isn’t a rational thing. It’s simple on paper and still pretty simple on screen; it should have been pushed a hundred times harder than it has – Peggle, more than You’re in the Movies, Scene It, or the NXE is the gateway drug you can use to bring everyone onto your 360.
Apr 8, 2009