Steve Hogarty's got the Extreme Fever

Lights and sounds and magic, that's what Peggle is made of. We've described it to ourselves in many different ways - that wondrous bastard child of bagatelle and pachinko, the senile pinball bitch from the planes of insanity, upside-down crazy Breakout with gravity.

Whatever description you use though, it's captivated us to an embarrassing degree, strengthening its grip with every Ultra Extreme Fever shot.

If I were to start plainly laying out Peggle's mechanics in front of you, you would think us quite mad for becoming hopelessly entangled in it. The game tosses you the task of clearing each level of orange pegs by launching balls from your lofty cannon. Each level is comprised of a screen filled with patterns and designs of pegs - blue ones are the point-swilling fodder, pink ones are point multipliers and green ones activate your current character's special power.


A critical ounce of skill is involved in the initial aiming of your shot, whether it's to nail that crucial pink peg or bank shot off a blue, but after the second bounce things are entirely in the hands of luck.

This is where Peggle amazes, because in your head, everything that's happening has been directly caused by your sheer talent. Each peg lights up as it's hit, with satisfying 'pings' increasing in tone. Hit the glorious 25,000 points barrier and your Fever Meter starts to flash, and subsequent peg hits resonate with booming 'PONG!' noises. Hit 75,000 and it literally sounds like god screaming in a wind tunnel.

As your ball approaches the final orange peg, time slows down and the camera pans in close to the action. A drum rolls, ramping up the tension for that split-second before the final peg is struck. Fireworks scream and a roaring choir belt out Ode To Joy as your ball turns into a rainbow-trail generating orb. Buckets rise from the bottom of the screen, offering a final resting place for your ball, and a nice bonus should it fall in the right one.

It's stupid, flashy fun, and you'll become so thoroughly absorbed that you'll punch the air victoriously, congratulating yourself for clicking in the right place and watching a ball bounce around the screen. Reviewing the thing is our first step towards rehabilitation.

The verdict

Joy: The Game

  • Addictive and happy
  • Challenges mode will keep you interested
  • Developers clearly had fun making this
  • Playing against the AI is rubbish
  • No online play
PopCap Games
PopCap Games