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As other puzzle games were becoming more complex, involved and skill based, Peggle was a breath of fresh air. Its simple Pachinko machine chance based play mechanic meant it easy to play by almost anyone. This accessibility was then enhanced by its release on the PC and iPod, rather than hard core gaming platforms. Such was its success that it is now available on most games machines.
Puzzle games pose the player a problem to solve, and then provided a limited set of tools with which to solve it. This can be as simple as arranging 2D blocks on top of each other, or as complex as balancing objects in a 3D environment.
The initial interaction is what usually hooks players in for the first few hours, but it is the game's ability to scale both the size and complexity of each puzzle that distinguishes the truly excellent experiences.
Peggle switches its gameplay away from highly skilled puzzle action by basing itself around the random effects of gravity on a ball falling through a vertical table of coloured pins. This takes the eastern love affair with the Pachinko machine and wraps it up in a form that should appeal to a wider western audience.
The simple game design is matched by the simple aiming input via the iPod's click wheel, followed by a press to launch the ball. This is mirrored on the PC with its mouse input and the 360 with an analogue stick.
Like its real world counterpart, although initially it looks like a game of chance, it soon becomes clear that a high degree of skill is required to progress. Not only do players need to aim their limited number of balls wisely but they also have to make decisions about the priority of hitting different pins. This moves the game away from the more frantic puzzle action of other titles (such as Tetris or Planet Puzzle League) and towards a more pedestrian and considered experience.
Players are attracted by the immediate simplicity and vibrancy of Peggle. Various achievements in each level are greeting with flamboyant visuals and audio. Simply finish a level and you are greeted with celebrations more fitting of winning the lottery or getting engaged. But this heart-on-its-sleeve easy to please little game soon has you hooked and coming back for more.
Although there is undoubtedly more luck involved, Peggle manages to make the experience of finishing a level every bit as satisfying as more complex games. It is perhaps this feeling of exuberant celebration that best depicts the game as a whole.
Peggle levels can be taken at their own pace. There are limits though as you only have a certain number of balls and a limited amount of time to fire each one off. The majority of levels can be completed in around five or ten minutes. The just-one-more-go nature of the gameplay means that most sessions extend beyond thirty minutes without the player realising.
Playing on an iPod Classic, Nano or Video makes it a great game to get you through train journeys and doctor's waiting rooms. That said, older players may find the diminutive controls of the smaller devises a little more tricky to aim accurately.
The simplicity and directness of concept make this an ideal game for the very young or novice player. Aiming with the iPod wheel and waiting to see how your luck turns out makes the barrier for entry quite low.
However, it is this simplicity and loose connection to your resulting score that can make less experienced players balk at replaying it too many times. Intermediate and Expert players are more attracted to the challenge of collecting every achievement and replaying old levels to improve their score.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: