Little Help?: iPhone Games, part 3; or Musings: A Short Study of Peggle

So you just got your hands on a shiny new iPhone. You’re thinking, “man, I sure could use a couple cool games for this thing, but what do I get?” The app store is a vast wasteland dominated by top ten charts, 99 cent firesales, and flatulence simulators. Finding your way to the diamonds in the rough is a daunting task, but there’s no reason to dive into it head first all on your own.

I’m here to help.

This’ll be a recurring feature where I highlight one or two iPhone games that are worth your time or money. In the meantime remember, Twitter is your friend. Start following some game industry types and you’ll be in the loop in no time.

Last time I discussed Capybara’s Critter Crunch and ReadFireAim’s Sway. Part 3 covers the port of a modern casual classic.


(Popcap Games)

You should’ve played Peggle by now somewhere, it’s available on the PC, DS, and Xbox 360, but if not I’ll try to give you a quick summary.

It’s pachinko meets Breakout. You are presented with a board filled with colorful pegs. Shoot balls at them from the top of the screen and eliminate any peg the ball touches. Clear all of the orange pegs and you’ve beaten the level. Simple enough, yeah?

Peggle is notoriously addictive. It’s the sort of game you’ll start playing at 10 PM and be telling yourself, “eh, just one more level” until you turn to the clock and realize it’s three in the morning. This is of course aided by the game’s simple concept, but what really draws you in is the aesthetic choices.

What fuels the addictive nature of Peggle would make for a brilliant psychology paper. It taps into some feral part of our brain that is infatuated with shiny things and blinking lights. Every facet of the game’s design capitalizes on this with simple yet rewarding, and more importantly instaneous, positive feedback. From the way a peg starts to glow after your ball collides with it to the ever ascending tones emitted as your ball bounces back and forth across the screen, Peggle rewards your not so hard work with endless streams of eye and ear candy.

Of course the ultimate pay off comes at the end of a stage as you launch a ball towards the final orange peg. Time slows down, the screen zooms in, and the peg is destroyed in a shower of fireworks. The words “EXTREME FEVER” fly onto the screen in giant flaming letters, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy begins to play, a rainbow arcs across the screen, and your ball finds its way to its final resting place among thousands of bonus points and then there are more fireworks and you are filled with a sense of achievement and wonderment…but from what? All you did was aim and press the fire button. Most of the peg destruction could be better credited to gravity and luck than you, but you’re still on top of the world. You feel like a damn champ.

And therein lies the majesty and genius of Peggle.

The iPhone version is probably my favorite. The addition of a touch controlled scroll wheel for aiming and a double tap activated zoom function do a fantastic job of addressing the possibilities of decreased accuracy on the platform. The game also plays well with the portability of the platform. Load it up while waiting for a bus, play for a few minutes, press the iPhone’s sleep button, slip it back into your pocket, and wake the phone to be brought back to your game instantaneously; no menus, no loading, just back exactly where you left off.

This is a must have for any iPhone owner, especially one who prides themselves as a game enthusiast. If you haven’t played it already, what the hell are you waiting for? This is one of the greatest video games ever made.



I mean that.

app store link: Peggle

About Matt Gerardi
Matt Gerardi is a journalist and musician. He also happens to write about video games.

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