After installing The Orange Box I was surprised to an extra game had been added to my Steam games list. I had briefly seen a video of the iPod version of Peggle previously and at first glance I wasn't sure what to think of it. The concept is rather simple, you are equipped with ten balls to be used for destroying orange circles and blocks. As you progress through the game, these circles and blocks will create various formations. While the game seems amazingly simple, once you've put in a half hour or so of play time you start to realize how deep this game is. This isn't to say it's anything more than just a casual game, but once the game introduces the Super Guide (a power-up that allows you to see where your ball will end up after its first bounce) and points bonus abilities it adds that extra something the game needs.
The visuals and audio inside the game also give it that extra something that will keep your attention. One of my favorite parts of the game that really shows off the simple yet emotionally amplifying sound and visuals is when you've completed a stage. Ode to Joy kicks in and bonus point buckets show up at the bottom of the screen. Your ball will eventually land in either the 10000, 50000 or 100000 points bucket after bouncing around the screen. Fireworks will shoot out of the bucket and your points are then tallied up. There is something about this big finish that puts a huge grin on my face as I wave my hands in the air along to Ode to Joy as if I was conducting the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It's goofy as hell but I just can't help myself. It's that type of innocent happiness that I haven't felt while gaming in a very long time. Sure beating a level has always been fun in games, but Peggle successfully takes that feeling of accomplishment and success then runs with it. It's something you need to experience to fully understand.
The one part that is lacking is Peggle Extreme's amount of content. Essentially Peggle Extreme is a demo for Peggle Deluxe with is also available via Steam. In Peggle Deluxe there are many more stages and more bonus abilities. Given the fact that Peggle Extreme really isn't the full Peggle experience and more so just a taste of the what is available you can't really blame PopCap for not including more. One of the added bonuses for the Extreme version is the immergence into the Half-Life world. For example, some levels revolve around a Team Fortress or Counter-Strike theme. This is seen in the backgrounds and the sounds of each stage. This wasn't needed, but it adds that extra something for the Half-Life fans and gives the package that extra polish.
Peggle Extreme convinced me to purchase the Deluxe edition. I've never paid much attention to the casual game market, but because of Peggle I'm most definiately going to keep my eyes out for more games in that catagory.