When I heard Peggle was coming to the XBLA I was overjoyed, having poured hours upon hours into the PC iteration both in single-player and versus mode.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Peggle, it is essentially a wacky puzzle style game where you have to shoot coloured orange pegs set amongst other lesser blue pegs. In a pinball fashion, your ball drops to the bottom of the level, hitting whatever other pegs or obstacles that might be in its path, and eventually passes a small bucket that moves slowly back and forth collecting the balls.
The aim is to clear each level of its orange pegs with as few balls as possible, and without running out of them. This requires some precision shots to ensure your ball glances off the peg at just the right angle to bounce into another, and another, and another, and... well you get the idea.
The amazing thing about Peggle is just how easy it is to pick up and enjoy. And then of course how difficult it is to actually put down again. It makes it almost the perfect family game which any age group would love to play. The bright colourful happy levels, and amusing characters might be a shock for those of us who are battle hardened from games like Gears of War II and Call of Duty: World at War, but it is certainly a relaxing change to what we’re used to.
For those of you who actually have played Peggle before, the question that will be going through your minds is whether or not the XBLA version is worth the 800 Points that are being asked. Well the levels appear to be the same as in Peggle Deluxe on PC, with 55 in total. 50 of them are allocated in the career mode to a cutesy character (or Peggle Master) such as Lord Cinterbottom whose ability when played is to shoot firey balls through all Peggles in its wake, opposed to simply bouncing off them. Or Claude the Lobster who provides you with two paddles in true pinball style to bounce the ball back skyward.
All in all there are ten of these characters, each with something unique and each have levels uniquely suited to their play style.
Then you have a total of 75 challenges to complete when you have finished the career. These essentially increase the count of orange pegs that you need to eliminate, giving an extra challenge. You can also play versus against friends on the same console which no doubt will provide the most fun, as it is incredibly satisfying to watch one of your shots take out half the pegs on the board, and see your score clock up accordingly. For the online mode there is a normal versus mode where you simply choose a level and play against a friend on XBL or against someone random. However the highlight is probably Peggle Party which really adds value to the console iteration.
In Peggle Party you join an online game where up to four players each attempt to finish their game board at the same time. The scores are compared on a shot by shot basis so you can view the other players progress, with the idea being to score as high as possible by the end of the match. This works incredibly well, with you quickly being able to view opponents boards as well as watch their shots, and you'll often look in wonder at how easily your ‘high score’ was flouted by another players single shot.
It is hard to say for sure why Peggle is so addictive. It really needs to be played to be seen, but if you are looking for a true family game that will give you hours of fun then look no further. as it's easily one of the better puzzle titles on the Xbox Live Arcade. The addition of achievements is of course another bonus, however some of them (such as clearing a Peggle board of all pegs, blue and orange) seem a little out of reach for some of us. The lack of new levels though is disappointing, as anyone having previously finished the game won’t find anything new here, but Popcap have already promised new DLC levels and these should fill that void in the very near future.
Until then Peggle Party certainly provides all the fun that we need from an XBLA title.