Wow!, what a colorful and addicting game this is. When I first played Peggle several years ago it took me back to the old arcade games I used to play when I was a kid, standing on the pier spending all of my money on those machines. That game was called Pachinko, (where you send a metal ball bearing spinning around a series of peg like mazes, trying to get your ball to drop into various cup like recepticles on the board) and it is still all the rage over in Japan where whole arcades are devoted to the game.
Peggle has become one of my favorite 'short term' arcade games of the last decade barring Ricochet Infinity and Gish. What I mean by short term, is the ability to play for just a few moments in between other games, or when on a coffee break from more important things. With Peggle, you have to attempt to knock out all the orange pegs from various arrays of blue and orange pegs (55 levels in the adventure mode) using a ball launcher/cannon that fires a ball from the top of the game board. You get 10 balls to clear the board of the orange pegs. If you can clear the whole board of both orange and blue pegs plus any special pegs, you get extra bonus points. There's a bucket like object that is constantly on the move at the bottom of the board. If your ball falls into this you get your ball back which in turn makes it easier to complete the round. There's also more points gained depending where your ball finally comes to rest, with a jackpot score of 50K from the central well, 25K from the two adjacent wells and 5K from the outer wells. The first time you fail to hit any pegs you will get your ball back, but this only happens once on each board. Each new board includes two green pegs that give you one of several special powers when you clear them away. These can help you clear the orange pegs away easier, for example you may get a double ball that enables yopu to clear away a lot more pegs, especially if you get it early on in the level (as more pegs get in the way), or extend the length of the ball catcher to give you a greater chance of catching the ball and getting it returned to the ball launcher or a marker that shows you where your ball will bounce. Some of the powers come into effect immediately (like the double ball which only lasts for that turn) or on the next turm that last for the next three turns; (the latter power is very useful for aiming your ball for maximum effect). Each of these specials continues through several levels before changing to a new power, that are introduced via Peggle Masters. There's also a purple peg that when hit gives you bonus points. Each time you flick a new ball, the purple peg changes position. Scoring over 250 000 on one board gains you an extra ball as well.
There's four different modes included with the PC version, Adventure mode with 55 levels spread over 10 stages, quick play, which allows you to play any board you've already unlocked, duel that allows you to play against either the computer or a friend (with the X-Box version you can play online against up to 4 players) and finally theres the challenge mode, which has 75 harder levels and is locked until you've completed the adventure mode.
There's two different versions of the game available on Steam, Peggle Deluxe and Peggle Nights, both of which are well worth buying if you like arcade games. Sadly there's no level editor, but Steam do have a free version Called Peggle Extreme that features levels dedicated to Half-Life 2, Portal and Team Fortress. There's only ten levels with one special (also known as Peggle Masters), and five Challenge levels, but it's enough to gives you an introduction to the game. It's more like a demo, but is different to the two commercial versions, so is worth getting if you like the game. I think they also made a second free themed version that's not available on steam, but I've forgotten what the theme was.
The beauty of this game for me is that it never gets boring. The levels are vibrant and enjoyable to play; each time I replay the adventure mode or replay levels via the quick play mode the game is never the same and it's great playing against friends or family, sadly it's only local play on the same computer and you share the 10 balls. If you play against the computer you can select one of four difficulty modes.
The game is only £4.99 on steam in the UK or $4.99 in the US (it's cheaper to get a freind in the US to buy it for you if you live in Europe). I oriignally paid $20 for each version via Reflexive Arcade when it was first released seven years ago.
You can see a video speed run of the whole game HERE
(it's 2hr 14mins in length), which gives you the opportunity to skip ahead and check out all of the various levels available in the deluxe version or you can check out the free Peggle Extreme version HERE