Peggle is sort of like the pachinko game that is played on the Price is Right, except instead of a disk it is a bouncy ball, the ball it is shot from a cannon and not dropped, and power-ups are included. Added into the mix is a strange cast of mascots who control what power-ups are procured, a vast number of background themes, and challenging level design makes the game a rather sizeable endeavour. This combined with every level taking about five minutes to clear means that Peggle is probably one of the best games for a handheld in a long time.
The goal of the game is to clear all of the red pegs from each level. Simple sounding in concept, but mixing in garbage pegs and the unpredictable way that the ball bounces make for some difficult levels. Although the game can be frustrating, with the seemingly random ball bounces, it is amazingly enjoyable and always seems to warrant just one-more-game, a sensation that can last for several hours.
Peggle eats these hours minutes at a time, as each level is designed to last only minutes; pass or fail. This is probably one of the best parts about the game as it lends itself to play anywhere. Levels are small and contained unto themselves to the point that if it has to be put down abruptly, no real progress in the game is lost while still being enjoyable and different enough to earn the right for extended play sessions; even if this means playing for the entire night.
There are some odd bits in how the game controls. After a shot, the canon seems to need several seconds to be ready to launch again. Also, there seems to be a delay when shooting a ball, which is rather annoying when the game first starts to introduce moving pegs, and this causes the ball to miss with relative ease. Both of these are annoying during the first time the game is picked up, but are easily adjusted for after about the first half hour of play.
The only down side to the game is that the game graphics are pretty terrible. The core gameplay looks like something that could have easily have been done on the GBA. This is rather shocking at first glance as the graphics do look rather bad, and the only praise that can be said is that after the first dozen levels they have become entirely forgettable.
Sound is the main device that ties the entire game together. From the satisfying noise the ball makes when it hits a peg, to the moment that Ode to Joy starts blaring when the stage is cleared, everything in the game seem to come together around the sound design. The level music itself is normally rather downplayed, quiet and forgettable, but all that does is help build to the moment that Ode starts blasting with a cleared stage.
Peggle retails for 30 dollars, which does seem like a steal as it includes the entire first and second game that cost about that much when bought on the PC. The game is customized a little for the DS, aiming with the stylus seems like a no brainer, and some bonus content sprinkled within, although the game is basically a direct port from the PC. It was rather refreshing that the game seemed to acknowledge that this is rather imprecise, and if the stylus is held down for a second or two in one spot the game goes into zoom mode, allowing for a better aim in that area. That said, the game is pretty solid on the computer to start with so these small changes were pretty much all that was needed to warrant the entirely reasonable 30 dollar tag.
All said, Peggle is probably one of the few games that everyone who owns a DS should probably go out of their way and find. Even though this game is little more than a port of the one that is available on almost every platform, it seems to lend itself to being carried around and played on the go. The minor tweaks of using the stylus to aim are neat, but the game was sound when it came out originally so it didn’t need that many changes. It goes without saying that if you enjoy fun, get yourself a copy of Peggle DS.