Peggle iPhone Micro-Review: Touching Balls Never Felt So GoodS

Peggle is conquering gaming one platform at a time. First it was PC, next Nintendo DS, then Xbox Live Arcade before doubling back to PC via World of Warcraft.

Now it's on the iPhone, and there's goes all your free time. There's something powerfully addicting about the part-pachinko, part-puzzle, part-crack downloadable game. Mercifully the short levels and basic gameplay lend themselves well to portable gaming; but you're not going to want to put the game down.

Loved
Easy, Addictive Gameplay: Each level is a field of blue and orange pegs where the goal is knock out all of the orange pegs with only 10 shots. Like pinball, players control the initial shot of a little ball into the field of pegs, but after that, it's all about physics as the ball ricochets off of pegs, walls and level-specific obstacles. (And no, the accelerometer on the iPhone doesn't move the ball). Strategy comes in three different ways: you can predict the ball's trajectory via a white dotted line, you can score power-ups or free-ball bonuses by hitting a green peg that will give you some advantage, or you can try and land your ball in portal that slides back and forth along the bottom of the field for extra points and a free ball. The difficulty ramps up steadily through as the game presents more complex fields of pegs that move or form shapes that make it difficult to line up shots.

Over-the-top Drama: In all versions of Peggle, there's a drum roll when your ball is about to strike the final orange peg in a level and the camera zooms in to capture the winning moment. These touches makes the subsequent fireworks, rainbow and blaring rendition of Ode to Joy that much more dramatic. It will probably also make you looks like a freak if you happen to playing the game on public transit with the sound turned up, so make sure to wear headphones.

Hated
Not As Precise As PC: In place of a computer mouse, the iPhone version asks users to use their fingers, dragging them across the screen to line up a shot before pressing a Fire button in the upper right hand corner. You can double tap a space on the field to zoom in and in place of a mouse's scroll wheel, the game has its own slider on the right hand side of the screen that lets you make minute adjustments to the trajectory. It gets the job done, but it just doesn't feel as precise as the PC version, particularly if you've got fat fingers that touch places on the screen you don't mean to touch, like the far right side of the screen when you meant to hit the Fire button.

Even if Peggle iPhone's touch controls aren't all roses, though, the game is every bit as fun and addicting as it was in its other formats. I highly recommend it to iPhone users. Just remember to look up once in a while to make sure you haven't missed your bus stop and try not to sing along to Ode to Joy.

Peggle iPhone was developed and published by PopCap Games. Retails for $5. Played Adventure Mode to completion.

UPDATE: Correct inaccuracy about dramatic zoom-in feature on the iPhone version of Peggle.