I recently bought an Xbox Series X, largely because of Xbox Game Pass. Even with the powerful new hardware, I somehow find myself playing the Xbox 360 classic Peggle.
First off, let’s talk about the basics. Even though this game is now a classic, it hasn’t been around that long, and a lot of people probably haven’t played it. Each level consists of a game board with pegs – either round or square. In most levels, the pegs are laid out in an artistic design. Some designs are more like patterns, while others look like real-life objects.
The goal of the game is to clear these pegs with a ball that you shoot from the top of the screen. The best way that I can describe this is to think about the game Plinko from The Price is Right (which also happens to be one of my favorite games on that long-running game show) crossed with Breakout.
The game is simple. You shoot the ball from your cannon at the top of the screen and aim for orange pegs. The goal is to clear all of the orange pegs while also achieving the highest score possible. A bonus goal is to clear the entire board of blue peg, pink, and green pegs as well.
There are several ways to rack up your score. The first is to get a combo, hitting as many pegs as possible, particularly the orange and pink variety. Speaking of the pink peg, it gives you a score boost compared to the other pegs. There’s only ever one pink peg on the board at a time, and it changes its location after every shot.
The idea here is to angle your shot to maximize the number of pegs that you anticipate the ball hitting. This is partially a game of physics and partially a game of dumb luck, but strategy definitely plays a role here. For instance, you may elect to only go after all of the blue pegs if you have a lot of balls in reserve. Once you run low, your sights will probably shift to orange pegs.
The game’s Adventure mode has you play a series of levels with different characters. The characters have their own special abilities that help you clear the board of pegs. You activate their powers when you hit a green peg. For instance, Bjorn Unicorn shows you where your ball will bounce. Jimmy Lightning is a gopher that throws an extra ball onto the board.
Two of my favorite characters are Renfield. It’s a pumpkin that makes a ball reappear at the top of the screen after your main ball falls out of the bottom. It also has a catchy tune. Lord Cinderbottom is a dragon who launches a fireball your next turn. These special powers mix up the action.
The single-player has a few other modes as well. Quick Play lets you replay levels that you beat in Adventure. Challenge puts your skills to the test with difficult challenges like needing to clear more orange pegs and beating a level with only one ball. I had the most fun in Adventure but will come back and try to clear all of the challenges as well.
Xbox Live Peg Party allows for a party of up to four players to compete online. Xbox Live Duel is a competition between two players online. The third mode is called Same Console Duel.
Players take turns shooting the ball. The goal is to score more than your opponent. The game penalizes you if you fail to hit an orange peg during your shot. It sucks that this is turn-based. It would have been more fun if it was a split-screen game with both players having their own board.
If you play online, the game tries to match you with similarly skilled players, but finding other similarly-skilled players is difficult. This is an old game, so there are not a ton of people playing it online anymore. Still, I was surprised to even find that the servers are even live anymore.
Peggle is a timeless game. I somehow did not play it when it first came out in 2007, but it’s just as fun playing it in 2021 as I imagine that it was then. This game has an addictive quality to it, blending the luck-based pachinko with the more skill-based Breakout. Now that EA Play is included with Xbox Game Pass, I highly recommend checking it out.