Peggle Nights Review

If you fell in love with the original Peggle game – and as you can see by our rare 5-star score, Gamezebo was certainly one of them – you will likely enjoy playing through PopCap’s Peggle Nights, the first of what will likely be many sequels for this popular arcade game.

But let’s get something right out into the open here: Peggle Nights is the same game as its predecessor but with new levels. This may be fine for many, including all of those who nominated Peggle to win the People’s Choice Award for Best Arcade & Action Game at the recent Zeeby Awards, but others who expected more might be downright disappointed.

As with the original game, Peggle Nights seriously rocks, but we can’t help to feel a little let down by this $20 deja vu.

For the uninitiated, the game plays out as follows: By controlling its direction, you fire a silver ball at the top of the screen and watch as it falls down towards the bottom. With only a predetermined number of balls per level, such as 10, you must hit all the orange pegs spread out among the mainly blue ones, laid out in a specific pattern.

Think of this game as a 21st century version of Pachinko. The ball bounces from one peg to another as it falls, and if a moving horizontally-gliding bucket at the bottom of the screen catches it, you’ll be awarded with a free ball. If you don’t clear all the orange pegs before you run out of balls you’ll have to repeat the level (and the orange pegs are spread out among the blue in a different pattern each time).

While you have no control over what happen when the ball drops (save for right mouse-clicking to speed up the bucket a tad), the strategy lies in where and when you shoot the ball, so that it hits the desired pegs and bounces in the desired direction to hit other orange pegs — or blue pegs you need to clear to make way for more orange ones.

The climactic conclusion to each level results in a slow motion camera zoom and drum roll, as the silver ball approaches the final orange peg. When it collides, you’ll hear Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from the Ninth Symphony and see fireworks and a rainbow after the ball falls into one of five bonus point buckets, ranging from 10,000 points to 100,000 points.

When it comes to the theme, Peggle Nights lets those cute Peggle Masters – such as an alien and unicorn – live out their dreams. The pumpkin, for example, secretly wishes to be a famous painter, so you’ll play through attractive hand-drawn replicas of classics from the likes of Escher, Dali, Munch and van Gogh. Kat Tut’s alter ego is a circus daredevil, and so the Big Top theme features floating balloons, balls and other goodies.

Power-ups are offered per level if you hit the green pegs, such as pinball flippers in the shape of Claude’s lobster claws, to keep the ball afloat. This sequel introduces a new, final character in the Adventure mode, Marina, an electric squid who can zap away pegs with a jolt of electricity.

Along with the Adventure mode – housing five levels for each of the 12 characters – is a Challenge mode with 60 unique levels to tackle, including specific challenges such as “lowest score.” Five of the Challenge levels are only playable after completing 15 levels in the Adventure mode, while the remaining 55 levels are only accessible after completing the Adventure mode. Gamers can also choose a Quick Play game (play any completed levels) and a Duel mode (challenge a friend on the same computer).

Finally, Peggle Nights also offers a new way to view replayed shots from the main menu and a trophy room (in the Stats area) to store all your awards for various achievements.

Don’t get us wrong – we had a blast playing through this sequel, evidenced by that same silly grin we had while playing the first game. But we’re not surprised this game isn’t billed as “Peggle 2” because it feels more like an expansion pack than a full-blown new game. (For those who play The Sims games, think of Peggle Nights like The Sims 2 Apartment Life add-on disc instead of the official The Sims 2, but in this case the original Peggle isn’t required to play).

While this game is a “second verse, same as the first” kind of experience, this might just be fine for casual gamers who crave more of the same.

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