Gamers of all shapes and sizes have thirsted for a charming, and easy to pick up game since the inception of gaming. Pong’s charm was in it’s simplicity, yet a gamer with quick reaction time who studied the ball’s direct movements could easily become a “Pong Pro”. Popcap is no stranger to the casual formula, enjoying the honor of one of the most sucessful games of all time: Bejeweled. In 2007, Peggle took the world by storm.
In just two years, Peggle has been ported to the iPod, Xbox 360, hosted a sequel (Peggle Nights), and can now be found on the Nintendo DS. Does Dual Shot sacrifice some of the charm of the original game in favor of portability? Read on to find out.
Peggle is a very simple game to understand. Each level of Peggle contains blue and orange pegs, and your mission is to clear all of the orange pegs by hitting them with a ball shot from the top of the screen. With the PC version, you would simply use the mouse to aim and left-click to fire. The DS gives you two options, and I found both of them to be very comfortable. The first method is to simple use the L and R buttons to direct the launcher, and fire with the A button.
Naturally, the DS includes a touch control scheme, which is even easier to use. If you hold your stylus on a certain point for a few seconds, the screen will zoom in, allowing you to pinpoint your shot. You can still stay zoomed in and hit the L button to fire an un-interrupted shot. My first playthrough, I never used the stylus, and the second time through I only used the touch scheme; I didn’t find a noticeable difference between them.
Despite a good control scheme, there is a bit that is lost in translation in terms of porting Peggle to the DS. The first thing I immediately noticed was that the pegs weren’t as vibrant. In terms of sound effects, everything has translated rather well, except I feel that the actual sound of the ball contacting the pegs is more tinny than normal. Musically, everything is perfect, from the smooth Peggle tracks (that will get stuck in your head) to the classic level ender; Ode to Joy.
The characters in Peggle (the Peggle Masters) are very hit or miss. Some of them are adorable, and others are downright creepy. All of the masters also have different powers, with some abilities better than others. Dual Shot features your current Peggle Master on the top screen, with the scene getting more frantic as you clear more pegs. I feel more of a connection to the character with this extra screen than I did with Peggle PC. In the original version, all you would see is a small, relatively lifeless portrait on the top of your screen. While the additional character “scene” helps, I still felt like the characters should have some form of voice acting, or unique speech. Every time you hit a power-up peg, a character will have a certain unique sound effect, but instead of their voice, you’ll get a regal horn, or a guitar riff. You’ll find Nights (included in Dual Shot) much more challenging right off the get go, and your Masters will change identities.
For instance, Bjorn the Unicorn goes undercover as a caped crusader, and Jimmy the Gopher is now a mad scientist. While the level-set in Nights has a completely different feel than the original, the DS’ top screen doesn’t change to accommodate the Master’s alter egos, and it doesn’t really make the characters feel any different. I really wish a few more Masters could have been included to give Nights a more unique feel. Once again, despite these small gripes, I still every much enjoyed Nights.
After you’re all done with both Peggle and Peggle Nights‘ adventure mode, you’ll have “mulitplayer duel mode”, “challenge mode”, and “quick play” to tackle. There are so many levels included in both games you could randomize them for an hour and never play the same one twice. Hardcore gamers will want to tackle challenge mode, which allows you to compete against AI opponents (strongly increasing replay value).
Another great feature Dual Shot has is an “achievement system of sorts”. For instance, if you score over 500,000 points in one level, you unlock an extra challenge stage to play in. However, despite all of these add-ons, it’s still a shame that there is no Wi-fi to be found (local or online); the duel mode has to be played with one DS. Also, in what seems to be a rather random addition, during any level if you hit enough of the special purple pegs, you’ll also unearth a small little mini-game involving gem collecting. It’s a small little inclusion, and it’s entirely your choice if you want to go for the purple pegs to up your score, or just skip the mini-game.
Peggle is the new casual king for a reason. It’s casual-hardcore gameplay has wooed millions of fans into a rampant frenzy, and Dual Shot is no exception. Packed with tons of content, and a reasonable MSRP ($29.99, but you can find it cheaper), Dual Shot is one game you’ll want to keep for every road trip. Considering it’s vast success, mark my words: this will not be the last we see of Peggle.
Peggle on the DS has transitioned very well. Of course, there are noticeable graphical differences (mostly with the detail of the pegs), but it doesn’t hinder the gameplay. Nights, although a great addition, doesn’t have as much of a unique feel as it could have.
Peggle is one of the most fun games to pick up and play, period. The DS allows for a completely stylus free control option, and the actual stylus controls are pretty precise. Although Peggle may seem like luck at first, there’s actually a large degree of skill involved.
The music has translated extremely well, although hitting the actual pegs sounds a bit tinny. I wish that the characters would talk more, to give them more of a unique feel.
120 levels, with challenges and multiplayer is a great value. The fact that Dual Shot is actually two Peggle games in one is astounding. No wi-fi is a dissapointment though.
The portability of a classic like Peggle, and the bundling of two games with extras can’t be beat.