Recently, I wanted to play some Command & Conquer 3, motivated by the Kane’s Wrath shoutcasts that I have been seeing lately. The bad news was, doing so required braving EA’s Origin client. However, that also turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as my Origin library reminded me that I owned Peggle!
Thus, it has been in rotation for the past few late nights. It’s worked nicely for me in that timeslot.
My history with Peggle goes way back. Ironically, though, the vast majority of it was not through Peggle itself, but rather through one of its clone games. It’s been so long that it may now be hard to picture, but back around 2008 to 2010, before mobile smartphone games completely dominated the casual game market and, Facebook used to be a major destination for those kinds of games.
One of the games on there which some of my friends and I played most was HotShot, a free-to-play Peggle-like. It was really fun and ultra addictive! Sure, if you were going the microtransaction-free route, you’d have to brave annoying energy mechanics and currencies, but as a college student with limited funds, that was a worthwhile trade-off. Even after finding out that Peggle was essentially its source, that price of “free” still could not take me away from my HotShot.
Then, during the summer of 2014, Origin offered up Peggle as a free download, I believe as part of their On the House program...and wait, what is this, it’s STILL free for download right now as I’m writing this four years after the fact?!! Whoah, if that is still the case by the time you’re reading this, and you have Origin, maybe snatch this up! It’s a real good casual game to have on hand, let me tell you.
Anyway, getting off tangent and back on topic, with the barrier of paying more than zero cents removed, I readily snatched it up. I remember it being slightly weird to play at first as a longtime HotShot aficionado, since Peggle’s physics were a bit different from that other game’s. Nonetheless, it was absolutely a satisfying game as expected, and also scored extra points for some funny and ridiculous presentation.
Also, four years since then, Peggle has the benefit of still being playable eleven years after its release, while HotShot appears to have disappeared off the face of the earth! Slight sidenote once again: This is the kind of stuff that makes me real hesitant about totally online-dependent games. They’ve got an expiration date practically built into their DNA. Cherish the games which can standalone.
As far as the genre of casual games go, Peggle is a masterstroke. Let us not downplay things, first off; it is thoroughly casual. Almost the entirety of its controls come down to point-and-click interface with the mouse, while the entirety of actions the player takes is A) aiming their shot with the mouse, B) clicking the left mouse button to shoot, and C) seeing how their shot plays out. With just one slight exception (I’ll get to that), that is it. Aim, shoot, observe, repeat. On top of that, there are no pressing real-time concerns to worry about either; you can take as long as you want to aim and line up your shot!
The casualness of the controls and the pacing, however, belies how involved the “game” portion of this casual game is. It involves making mental ball-bouncing calculations, often in situations where the number of pegs and potentially other obstacles makes it nearly impossible to judge exactly how a shot will pan out. That fact actually ends up making the endgame of a level with few pegs left just as exciting as the start where you’re tearing through multitudes of pegs left and right; less pegs means better chances for good precise calculations, but with most likely few balls remaining, you really need to make those calculations count. It gets real nerve-wracking sometimes, in a good way!
Additionally, while the overall layout of the pegs in a level never changes, which ones get picked to be the must-clear red pegs or the two power-up pegs is randomized per playthrough. With limited balls at you disposal, that warrants a necessity to adapt how to prioritize your shots; well, that, or just lead to blaming your failure on a bad luck of the draw. It’s a roguelite touch that is quite potent.
With that combination of just the right amount of challenging gameplay to keep me invested and the sheer ease of its controls, I have been finding this to be an excellent wind-me-down game at the end of a night. Its low-key charms are just the thing that my mind gravitates towards when faced with a day full of activities and a night portending sleepiness. Cheers to that!
Also, seeing how Talk Amongst Yourselves in the 2018 SixTAY Days Challenge Era occasionally moonlights as a pinball fansite, there is one other thing that I absolutely have to mention. I totally forgot about this until getting into Peggle again recently, but this stupidity is one of the characters/powerups.
That don’t-call-it-pinball description is amazing, for the record.
This is, by the way, that “one slight exception” mentioned above to the whole aim-shoot-observe-repeat; instead of observing a shot, you can take on a more active role while a ball is in play. When Claude’s powerup is active, you can left click to use a pair of flippers on each side of the board in an attempt to keep the ball in play.
Flippers which, it must be noted, are crab claws.
This game is great.