Peggle Deluxe, or On Doing iPod Games Right
Last week, we published a review of PopCap Games’ Peggle for the iPod—a strategic block-busting title, and the first iPod game we’ve rated a flat A. (That’s after testing literally every title released since iTunes started to sell “iPod Games,” only a few of which have rated in A- territory.) Once the review was published, we received a note from PopCap: would we be interested in trying the PC or Mac versions of the game, the ones the iPod title was derived from? “It’s even better on a larger screen, where the ‘luck factor’ gradually diminishes and it becomes a true game of skill,” said the company’s representative. Sure, we thought, why not?
So here’s the interesting thing. Regardless of whether it was derived from a bigger and better computer or console title, the iPod version of Peggle deserved our flat A rating. It’s a ton of fun to play, looks good, sounds great, is accessible to anyone, and has lots of levels to keep players busy for quite some time. In other words, it’s 100% worthy of its asking price. The surprise is that when we tried the higher resolution Mac version of the title, “Peggle Deluxe,” the iPod version didn’t feel like some half-rate, sloppy port; instead, it felt like it was designed to be as good as the iPod could possibly make it, with the same levels, challenges, and controls. Is the original version better? Almost exclusively in the graphics department. But even then, they’re close. At least, close enough.
The two shots above show the differences between the iPod and Mac versions—you can guess which is which. More screenshots of the Mac version are below. Would we prefer the Mac version, if all other things were equal? Yes. But they’re not. You can’t fit a Mac in your pocket. And the iPod version costs less.
There’s a lot to love about the presentation on the Mac version. Peggle’s Extreme Fever mode, which ends every stage with the opportunity to score bonus points based on where your ball lands, is now laced with even cooler special effects for both the ball’s motion and the beams of light that emanate from the bonus well you hit. All of the stages, pegs, blocks, and other art benefit from the computer monitor’s higher resolution. And stage selection is more natural, with on-screen maps of several levels rather than a Cover Flow-styled scrolling display. But these points are all small, suggesting just how great a job PopCap did with the iPod version: you don’t lose any of these things, and it doesn’t become any less skill-oriented; the iPod’s art is just slightly downsampled.
Is there a lesson for iPod game developers to learn from PopCap’s release of Peggle? Actually, there are two. First, release a contemporary console- or computer-quality game on the iPod, and you’ll win people over. Too many iPod games look like the shovelware sold for mobile phones, and it’s hard to get excited about them; porting downsampled console titles, assuming their controls work, is the right strategy. And second, consider iPod-exclusive content—perhaps a full slate of entirely iPod-specific levels—as a way to make fans interested in a second, related purchase. Since Peggle Deluxe’s levels are exactly the same as the ones in the iPod version of Peggle, there’s no reason to buy both unless you need pocket- and non-pocket-sized versions. If they had different levels, though, that would be a strong incentive for fans of the iPod version to buy the Mac or PC version. This doesn’t mean “cripple the iPod version,” because fewer levels would have made Peggle less recommendable; rather, it means “different and equally good levels.” A great experience on the iPod will lead to a follow-up purchase for a computer or console; a mediocre iPod experience will lead to nothing.
In any case, this weekend was spent playing lots and lots of Peggle Deluxe—perhaps too much, considering everything else that needs to be getting done right now. But from a gamer’s perspective, that’s a really good thing. Regardless of format, consider us fully on board for the inevitable Peggle 2.
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.
- Spotify claims Apple anti-competitively blocking Spotify app update
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren accuses Apple, others, of locking out competition
- Cirrus Logic releases development kit for Lightning headphones
- Report details Apple Music’s vision for exclusive content
- Walgreens adds digital coupons to Apple Pay
- China orders Apple and others to monitor, report on app users
- South Korea regulators investigating Apple
- Apple Q3 earnings call set for July 26
- Apple’s UK tax bill under scrutiny
- Apple lays out ‘differential privacy’ plan for data collection
- IK Multimedia iKlip A/V
- ClamCase ClamCase+ for iPad Air 2
- Philips Hue White Ambience Starter Kit
- Naim Audio Mu-so Qb Speaker
- Phiaton BT 460 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Zagg Slim Book for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Element Case Ronin for iPhone 6/6s
- JBL Clip 2 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones
- Catalyst Case for iPad mini 4
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app