For many casual gamers, the word Peggle has become almost magical in nature. Last year's pachinko-style title from PopCap caught us by complete surprise with its blend of deliciously simple gameplay and subtle strategy coated in the glossy paint of a stellar presentation. Now, Peggle Nights has arrived with all-new levels, a new setting, and a handful of other extras, all ready to steal your time like few other games can.
If you're one of the few who missed out on the original Peggle, here's how things work. Each level is filled with an arrangement of colored pegs with a ball cannon situated top center. The objective is to clear the orange pegs from the board by hitting them with one of the ten balls you start with. Aim with the mouse (fine-tune your shots with the scroll wheel), fire, then kick back and watch the bounciness ensue. Clear out blue pegs to reach the orange ones, and keep an eye out for special purple and green pegs that grant extra points and special stage-specific abilities respectively.
The ball follows logical physics and bounces around the screen just like you'd expect it to, making strategy a subtle but gradually more integral part of the game. You can score free balls by racking up enough points during a single turn, or by getting the ball into the chute sliding on the bottom of the screen.
And now for the best part of the game: eliminating that last peg. The very first thing that captivated me about the Peggle series was the dramatic slow motion camera zoom that pulls in to watch the ball hit the final peg. A drum roll ensues, and Beethoven's Ode to Joy howls in the background. It's epic. Afterwards, the ball finishes its bouncing and settles in one of the point buckets that appear at the bottom of the screen.
Analysis: GAAAH, make me stop playing! Whatever casual magic PopCap infused in the original Peggle, Peggle Nights has it in droves. It's just as fun as the original, now with new levels, new Peggle Masters, a trophy room, and several challenge levels waiting to be beaten. The change of scenery is also nice, and the backgrounds in this game are nothing short of breathtaking.
The only real "disappointment" with Peggle Nights is that it's not a full-blown sequel. Peggle may have reinvented the hyper-addictive casual game, but Peggle Nights only walks down the same path. Don't expect anything different this time around, but the last time I checked, more Peggle was never a bad thing.