A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a refreshingly simple puzzle game that can be enjoyed by players as young as 4 and as old as 104. There's no inappropriate content whatsoever. The cartoon characters, which are usually animated animals, are cute and friendly and the sound effects are adorable. There's no spoken dialogue or risqué music. This puzzle game won a Zeeby Award for being one of the best casual games in 2007. It is available as a downloadable game as well as boxed.
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What's it about?
You might not understand the appeal when you first launch PEGGLE, a hot \"casual\" computer game from PopCap Games, but give it 20 minutes and you won't be able to put your mouse down. The idea behind this downloadable try-before-you-buy puzzler is a simple one: Fire a silver ball at the top of the screen in a given direction and watch as it falls toward the bottom like an old Pachinko carnival game. With only a predetermined number of balls per level, you must hit all the orange pegs spread out among the mainly blue ones. The ball bounces from one peg to another, like a pinball hitting a bumper.
Catch the ball in a moving bucket that glides back and forth horizontally at the bottom of the screen and you'll be awarded with a free ball. The goal is to clear all the orange pegs before you run out of balls. That's it –- but the strategy lies in shooting the ball so that it hits the desired pegs and bounces to hit other orange pegs -- or blue pegs you need to clear to make a path to more orange ones. Pegs are laid out in specific shapes, such as a car, a person's face, or aquarium. The pegs are often animated, such as rotating wheels on a bicycle in front of an attractive 2-D backdrop.
Is it any good?
The "wow" factor kicks in just as you finish the level. As the silver ball moves toward the final peg, the "camera" zooms in for a slow-motion close-up and a drumroll climaxes into Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" from Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Opus 125. Then, the silver ball falls into one of five bonus prize values, ranging from 10,000 points to 100,000 points, followed by fireworks and a rainbow. Now this is how to reward a gamer for a job well done. Levels are segregated into themes -- such as Space, Halloween, or Nature -- featuring a unique character at the top of the screen and a power-up that is activated when a green peg is hit. In the underwater level, for example, hitting a green peg causes pinball flippers to appear (in the shape of lobster claws) on each side of the screen to help keep the ball afloat.
Along with the main Adventure mode and its 55 increasingly challenging levels, the game also offers a Quick Play mode (play any previously completed level); a Duel mode for you to compete in head-to-head matches (against a friend on the same PC or against the computer); and the Challenge mode with 75 additional puzzles to tackle. Do yourself a favor and give Peggle a chance -- it might not grab you by the lapels at first, but give it a few minutes and you won't be able to pry yourself away from the computer.
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