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In Japan, many men launder many millions of yen every year for the Yakuza by pinging small balls around pachinko machines. Until the ban on smoking in pachinko parlours was introduced a few years ago, these places were packed with the same societal dregs that you’d see in your average small town arcade, pushing their last few pounds into a fruit machine in the misguided hope that they might actually get out more than they put in. But we in the west have never got Pachinko. We have pinball, we have penny pushers, and, more appropriately, we have Peggle, the absurdly addictive but really-not-very-deep game from Popcap. It’s western pachinko, and I’ll have no arguments.

I’m not going to go into huge depth in this review because I can’t; if ever a game deserved the ‘Oh No! More…’ prefix it’s Oh No! More Peggle Nights. It’s Peggle with one new character, and blocks which occasionally rotate. There’s nothing vastly new about it, unlike, say, the surely life changing evolution of Puzzle Quest.

Weirdly, all I could think of when playing Peggle Nights was that Popcap needs to get working on Peggle 2. Now. There are aspects of the multiplayer game especially which don’t hang right with me, from the vast advantage you get for going first, to the limit of two power ups per game. More also needs to be made of the special blocks; a ‘point boost’ block is fine, but how about something, y’know, more interesting?

The challenges (which you’ll be left with after ploughing through the admittedly short single player campaign) are slightly more interesting, sometimes scraping the edge of impossibility a little too closely. It’s often blind luck — favourable positioning of the green and purple pegs — that leads to victory. Alright, it’s a casual game, but it’s one that actually asks for a little skill; why not reward those players who have it in droves with a structure that’s winnable every time? Concessions have been made (the ‘Extreme Fever’ bit seems much more friendly, for example) but you’re still at the mercy of chance.

It’s not the original, because that filled me with the sort of gaming adrenaline which came back only in a weak, level pack style effusion of love here. Is it bad? No. It’s Peggle, that wouldn’t be possible. But there’s a way to go, and Popcap should follow that road before it’s inexplicably full of other, free Peggles with extra-wide tyres and humorous bumper stickers.

8/10

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