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Game Reviewed: Peggle
Platform: PC (also on PS3, Xbox360, DS, iPhone)
ESRB Rating: E
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Another game by PopCap (the company that made such classics as Bejeweled and the more recent Plants vs. Zombies), Peggle is an addicting fun-fest of a game. There is not much point to it, but when you need a few minutes to unwind, you cannot go wrong with Peggle.
The gameplay consists of shooting metal balls at multicolored pegs: the goal is to hit (thus eliminating) all the orange pegs. Many blue pegs litter the playing field as well, blocking the orange pegs, causing you to have to eliminate the blue pegs as well to get to your objective. If you can eliminate all the orange pegs before running out of balls, you win. There is also a bucket moving from side to side on the bottom, which will give you a free ball if your ball ends up landing in it. Of course the entire game is not this simple: plenty of things along the way will mess with the formula, such as different placements of pegs, colored bricks rather than pegs, and moving pegs. In addition to all this, there are different characters to play as at the beginning of each round, and each character has a different ability that will be activated when you hit one of the two green pegs on each level. These abilities range from a huge-peg-eliminating explosion to a fire ball that burns through all the pegs it comes in contact with.
Of course, the potential for violence, language, and sex in a game like this is… well, pretty much nonexistent, but there are still a couple minor things parents might want to know about.
What Parents Need to Know
Peggle is about as violent and gruesome as that Plinko game from The Price is Right.
Never is there a hint of bad language in Peggle.
No sexual content.
A couple of the character's special abilities in Peggle have some minor spiritual influence. The first of these characters is Renfield, a Jack-o-lantern who gives you the “spooky ball.” When this ability is activated, the ball will fall to the bottom of the screen, but rather than ending that turn, it will reappear at the top as if it were brought back from the dead.
The other character is an owl named Master Hu. His power is the Zen ball, which calculates a minor adjustment to give your shot as many points as possible. Master Hu talks a bit about Zen, mostly in a joking way. His levels include things like yin-yangs in the background.
A Child’s Perspective
My nephew Logan is 4 years old, and he has a complete grasp on this game. Every time he comes over he asks if he can play Peggle. If I am working on my computer, he asks if he can play it on my mom or sister’s computer. He enjoys it immensely, and though he does not quite grasp the strategy of some of it, he understands the usefulness of each power and uses them pretty well. He loves the game. Admittedly, kids that age are pretty easily entertained, but this has been my experience with kids of all ages: Peggle is a simple game to learn, but difficult to master. In other words, Peggle is great for kids, but adults are sure to enjoy it as well.
PopCap seems to be the master of addiction: their games have a reliable tendency to be rather simple, wildly fun, and impossible to put down. Peggle is a great example of this. It is hard to describe the joy in lining up a shot, the anxiety in watching the ball bounce around the pegs and the excitement when it is bouncing around the free ball bucket. There is a charm to this game, an undeniable attraction that pulls you in and keeps you there, not because of its strength, but simply because you do not want to leave.
Some playful Halloween-related content and mild references to Eastern religion may turn off some parents, but Peggle is an easy way to have fun with the whole family. Not only is it a blast to watch (nothing like a crowd around the computer cheering in excitement or booing in disappointment at a bouncing ball onscreen), but there is also a multiplayer mode, where players take turns to try and earn the most points. Just be careful: Peggle is addicting and the hours wasted with this one can pile up!