PopCap Games, Q Entertainment (Nintendo DS)


PopCap Games, Valve Corporation (Steam)


Sukhbir Sidhu and Brian Rothstein




E for Everyone

Peggle is a puzzle videogame developed and published by PopCap Games. The game revolves around shooting a ball, and trying to get enough points by hitting pegs, to fill up the meter. Bjorn the Unicorn is apparently the main character, and the leader of the Peggle Institute.

Gameplay Edit

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Within the game's main "Adventure" mode, Peggle is divided into fifty-five levels. Each level features an arrangement of approximately one hundred blue "pegs", positioned to correspond with the level's background picture, inside of three walls on the top and sides (leaving the bottom opened), along with other fixed and moving features. The goal of each level is to clear the board of the twenty-five random pegs that are turned orange at the start of the level, by using a ball launcher located at the top center of the screen to strike one or more of the pegs. Pegs light up when hit, and once the ball either falls through the bottom of the screen or is caught by the ball catcher that moves back and forth along the bottom in a fixed manner, the pegs will be removed. Struck pegs are also removed if the ball is stuck on them. The player begins each level with ten balls (twelve on the non-Touch iPod version) to clear the orange pegs, but may earn more by landing the ball in the ball catcher, or by earning high scores on single shots. Failure to clear the board with the allotted number of balls will require the player to restart the level, while completing this objective will allow the player to progress forward to the next board.

Every five levels in the Adventure mode correspond to playing with one of ten "Peggle Masters", cartoon characters that help the player. Each of the Peggle Masters has a unique special ability that is activated when the player strikes one of the two randomly selected green pegs on the board. Some abilities activate immediately; one ability causes a second ball to be generated from the green peg when struck. Other abilities will have effects that activate on the next shot or for several more shots; one ability shows the ball's path including rebounds, while another will extend the length of the ball catcher. In the final five levels of the Adventure mode, called "Master" levels, the player can select which of the Peggle Masters they want to use.

In addition to clearing the board, the player is challenged to get high scores with each shot. Points come from two main sources: striking pegs, and style points. Each struck peg earns points, with further bonuses gained by hitting numerous pegs on a single shot, and by clearing orange pegs, which builds up a scoring multiplier up to 10x when all but a few orange pegs remain. Additionally, for each shot, one random blue peg will be marked purple and revert to blue after the shot if it is not struck; striking this peg will further boost the player's score. Style points are awarded for making difficult shots such as striking two orange pegs consecutively that are a distance apart, or by getting lucky bounces off the ball catcher. When the player clears the board of orange pegs, as announced by the song "Ode To Joy" and the message "Extreme Fever", the bottom of the level is replaced with five bins of different point values that the ball will fall into. The player is awarded this score in addition to any unused balls remaining to get their final score for the level. If all the pegs on a level are cleared, a bonus is awarded and all the bins turn to the maximum value and the message "Ultra Extreme Fever" is displayed.

In addition to the Adventure mode, the game features a series of challenges that require the player to complete boards under stricter requirements, such as having to clear more orange pegs or remove every peg from the board. A "Duel" mode allows the player to compete against another person or a computer AI on the same board in attempting to reach the highest score. The Xbox Live and PlayStation Network versions add a "Peg Party" mode, in which up to four players compete on their own boards using a limited number of balls, each attempting to get the highest score. In each of these modes, the game generally offers the ability for players to select which Peggle Master they wish to use.

Development Edit

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Peggle was originally envisioned by PopCap's studio director, Sukhbir Sidhu, who was inspired by pachinko machines. However, he recognized that pachinko was mostly luck-based, and would not translate well into a video game. After seeing a 2D game engine created by PopCap Games programmer Brian Rothstein, Sidhu was able to realize his game, and worked with Rothstein for the first five months of its development before bringing in additional programmers. Initial designs focused on bringing together elements of pachinko with Breakout. The team initially incorporated a "rapid-fire" mechanic used in pachinko, along with numerous moving targets, but they found this made the levels either too fast-paced or too demanding of the player. They found over time that a static field of pegs provided a more enjoyable experience for the player; the path of the ball would be more predictable, leading to the gameplay mechanic of requiring only a random subset of orange pegs to be cleared. Once the team had established the core mechanics of the game, they brought on character artist Walter Wilson, background artist Marcia Broderick and an additional coder, Eric Tams, to help complete Peggle within its two-year development period. Even with their game established, Sidhu and Rothstein faced internal challenges at PopCap to increase the level of interactivity with the game, but the two defended their vision of the game.

Though the game was technically completed within a year, PopCap Games opted to spend more time to polish it, improving the visuals and background images. The team spent time refining the various sound effects used in the game, in order to provide an appropriate atmosphere. In some cases, they found the desired sound quickly; the sound of the ball hitting a peg was borrowed from another game in development at PopCap Games, but was considered perfect for Peggle. Other cases required iteration; the sound of the ball shooter was originally closer to that of a cannon, while a "plunk" sound effect was used when the ball catcher caught a ball. These were changed to more airy sounds (an air cannon and a brief angelic chorus) in order to make the elements sound as if part of the game's music. The team found it helped to create a defining moment at the end of each level when the player is moments from clearing the final peg. This initially was programmed as a simple message stating "Extreme Fever" and the music of Ode to Joy as a placeholder. Sidhu wanted to recreate the "wild sounds and visuals" that were present on winning pachinko games. However, the team found that the players reacted well to the simpler placeholder elements, and the team focused on improving the presentation of these, including adding a zoom on the current ball as it neared the last orange peg to be cleared.

Reception Edit

The release of Peggle on the iPhone was extremely popular, placing in the top ten applications purchased through the App Store for the first two weeks it was available. During a weekend in June 2009, the title was put on sale for $1 (normally $5); the sale caused the game to become the most purchased application in the App Store. A PopCap Games representative stated that they made as many sales during this four-day period as they had in the three weeks prior, after the game's launch on the Store.