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For any ostriches out there who haven't yet encountered it, PopCap's Peggle is a sort of cross between pinball and Puzzle Bobble in which you fire a limited number silver balls from a cannon at the top of the screen into a field of coloured pegs below, which disappear on contact.
The object is to remove all twenty five orange pegs, while points, bonuses and special powers are gained by removing blue, purple and green pegs respectively. At the bottom a bucket moves from side to side which will retain any balls that fall in. It's a simple concept, but one which is brought to delightful fruition.
While the primary objective of completing each level is fairly straightforward, the trick is in racking up the biggest score while you're at it. The way I particularly enjoy achieving this is by picking up bonuses for long distance rebounds between orange, purple and green pegs. I have also developed quite a knack for making the ball glance off a single peg and race straight into the bucket which can be especially useful if you have more orange pegs remaining than available balls.
The design is excellent throughout, but use of explosive colour and music and the end of each stage is especially clever.
Removing a green peg (two per stage) activates a special power, which varies according to which character you are using. Powers include a lengthened basket, a line showing the trajectory of the ball, a second ball and 'zen' vision - a feature which calculates and performs the best shot possible within a certain range of the current cannon position - some of which are more useful for racking up bonuses than others.
The design is excellent throughout, but use of explosive colour and music and the end of each stage is especially clever. I find that the contrast between the concentration and skilful planning necessary to tackle each level and the intensely joyful outbursts that erupt upon completion do a brilliant job of preventing the game becoming samey.
A particularly nice feature is the way that the game anticipates the triumphal celebrations by zooming in and slowing down as the ball approaches the last remaining orange peg (whether it is going to hit it and initiate the near-frenzied colours and music, or slide narrowly by).
Probably the most impressive aspect of Peggle is the skill and subtlety of the control scheme. While major movements of the cannon are made by means of the touch screen, there is a useful wheel on the right-hand side which emulates the mouse scroll of the PC version in allowing precise adjustments. A double tap anywhere zooms in, allowing for greater precision still. What is more, the urge to integrate tilt or shake has been well resisted, preserving the gameplay from compromises that would likely have resulted from attempts to crow-bar them in.
If you turn the thing round 180 degrees, the game-screen flips over too; a small thing, but classy none the less.
Running completely in landscape mode, Peggle also includes something I'm becoming increasingly pleased to see (and frustrated by the lack of elsewhere). I dislike having to hold the 2nd Gen Touch with the volume buttons at the bottom, where they get in the way, but in Peggle if you turn the thing round 180 degrees, the game-screen flips over too; a small thing, but classy none the less.
Value wise, you get 55 stages in normal mode, plus an additional 40 (tricky) challenge stages thereafter, for your £2.99. It was recently on sale at £0.49 for a limited period, and if you're not kicking yourself for missing out on that huge bargain, then you should be. However, there is no need to wait to see if it will be repeated - splashing the full £3 still equates to excellent value in my opinion.
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