Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Peggle: First Demo Review

Ok, so honestly, I got this game as part of the Orange Box deal, so I can’t claim to have known anything about it beforehand. Whatever, we’ll call this the first of my Demo Review Series. That makes it sound like it’s official in some way.

Ok, so right away I like the presentation, cutesy classical music mixed with a headcrab impaled upon a unicorn horn. Nice. Now time to review the actual game. Each level is a collection of “pegs,” all of them arranged on a drawn background that feature an amalgam of Team Fortress 2 characters and weird creatures (Pegglites?). Gameplay involves hitting as many of the pegs as you can, with some pegs giving you more points and others special powers (the full version has many other types of pegs). It’s a pretty basic game, but it can be a fun one too.

How does it stand out from other small games of this variety? The game is physics based, so after you launch your ball, it will arc around the screen, bouncing off pegs, until it falls off the screen. This means that every shot is a careful calculation of angles and rebounds, and if you are good, you can set up some amazing shots. Second, the challenges (get 300,000 points, don’t lose a single life, etc.) are fun to try and beat. Also, the different maps are cute and weird, and the way the pegs conform to each painting is clever.

The problems? Peggle's "physics" can make your ball bounce in some pretty weird ways, so you basically have to rely on the special "guided shot bonus pegs" to accurately predict the ball's progress. Also, some of the verbal cues (the "you lost" sound clip in particular) can get pretty annoying.

Peggle is extremely basic, and it is pretty up front about it. It’s fun, but I can see that fun wearing out in time (it has already started to wain a bit for me). So, try the demo, ten dollars is a lot to spend on a game like this, even if you love physics based ball bouncing games.

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