12 reviews that made us cheer

A few months ago, we invited PC Gamer readers to take part in our very own reality TV game show knock-off that we dubbed America’s Next Top PC Gamer Reviewer. The first challenge was simple: Give us a 150-word review of the casual game Peggle. We were overwhelmed by the response - our e-mail boxes were flooded with over 200 entries. They were all so good that it was agonizing to whittle the group down to 12 finalists.

Below are the best of the best. The 12 finalists are now working on the next stage of the competition, but we thought you should get to enjoy what got them there.

By Brad Safranski:
The first thing that comes to mind when you fire up this game is that the classic Breakout has hooked up with Plinko from The Price is Right and they've named their acid-tripping love child Peggle. Unlike most street junkies, however, Peggle is a blast to spend some time with. The guts are simple—aim and fire a ball from the top of the screen, hit the target "pegs" and other tiles, accomplish the level goal and rack up insane points. This isn't revolutionary, but Peggle does break ground in its delightfully vivid color scheme, arcade-throwback presentation, and exaggerated physics. While it has a retro feel, Peggle brings the arcade ball-bouncer into the third millennium with modern touches like challenges, unlocks, and multiple characters. All this, wrapped up in a neat little package addressed both to the casual gamer and the hardcore gamer who's looking for a fun little diversion.

By Daniel Shannon:
Peggle is a delightfully simple game from the puzzle masters behind Bejeweled. It takes the "ball hits things" tradition of pinball, pool, and Breakout to new heights. With a properly aimed bouncy ball, the player can unleash mind-blowing combos, which can be saved with the game's instant replay feature. Ten Peggle Masters like Bjorn the Unicorn add strategic depth with their unique "magical abilities," which range from peg-bombs to shot-improvement. Those cute critters can be brutally efficient in Peggle's duel mode. With its cutthroat multi-player and a harrowing set of 75 challenges, Peggle boasts a hundred hours of "pure awesome."

Peggle is so much fun that it can be tough to quit. Each time I move my cursor over the exit program button and a single tear rolls down Bjorn's cheek, I can't help but feel a tinge of regret. Don't worry buddy, I'll be back soon.

By Matthew Panzarino:
If The Who's Tommy and Bub from Bust-A-Move had a baby, they would have named it Peggle. A great action puzzler from the folks at PopCap, a company with a reputation for producing insanely popular flash games like Bejeweled, Peggle's object is to fire a small metallic ball into a field of orange and blue pegs, attempting to eliminate all of the orange pegs to continue. Underneath the deceptively exterior however, lies a soul-destroyingly addictive hook. Eliminating the orange pegs becomes secondary to racking up huge scores by ricocheting shots off of the walls and other pegs for massive scoring combos that end satisfyingly in a choral rendition of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy"! Special abilities can be activated to give you balls, psychic powers and many other surprises. Peggle is one of those rare gems that manage to push those pleasure buttons in your brain in all the right ways.

By Steve Rasmussen:
Don't let the cutesy backgrounds and bright colors deceive. PopCap decimated my productivity with this casual game, stuffing the patient trick-shooting of pool and point accumulation of pinball into a blinking slot machine's addictive wrapper.

Based on pachinko, you fire a ball through a themed design. Aim well to ricochet off obstacles and pegs, clearing all the orange. Bonuses and multipliers add to the pinball-y action.

The game's style is pure saccharine-sweet unicorn kitsch. Ten characters lend unique powers. My favorite is Master Hu, a transcendent owl who provides a zen ball, auto-improving my admittedly lousy aim.

Stringing combinations for thousands of points joins my favorite gaming moments of the year. Try Peggle, but be forewarned: it will haunt your dreams, or at least have you humming Ode to Joy as you bounce paper-wads off co-worker's heads.

By Chris Churchill:
“Peggle Fever" is spreading like a California wildfire and in case you haven’t tasted the Kool-Aid yet, Peggle is Pop Cap’s twisted take on pinball and it’s completely addictive! At first glance, Peggle looks like a child’s game (the first things you see when it loads are rainbows and unicorns) but before you know it, you’re seven levels deep and loving every minute. Who would have thought that firing a metal ball at blue and orange pegs could be so fun?

The game features twelve different characters, each with their own special abilities, who take you through the 60+ well-designed levels that steadily increase in difficulty. It’s hard to describe the sheer joy that washes over you when you finish a challenging level and enter the ‘Peggle Fever” bonus round, especially when the ball lands in the coveted 100,000 point bucket. But don’t take my word for it, go play it!