WARNING! WARNING! This game is addictive. If you continue reading, and are persuaded to get the game and play it, I am not responsible for how much time you spend playing it.
I always wanted to play pinball. But the real pinball machines, on the rare occasions I actually saw one, cost money to play. I liked trying even the little plastic toys that were sort of like pinball, but they didn’t have flashing lights and bells and free balls. And when I did get to try something with flippers at the bottom, I didn’t do well enough to give me any confidence that putting money in a pinball machine would be worth my while.
Fast forward a few decades. This spring, when Al had to have a root canal, we promised him a computer game if he could sit calmly through it. (He was quite worried, and he also gags easily when someone pokes around in his mouth – he had thrown up on the previous visit when they tried to take an X-ray.) He did amazingly well, and when the computer game he requested required making a commitment to purchase two more games in the future, I agreed.
But then we didn’t find any more games he wanted, even when his birthday came around. So I finally started looking through the games to see if there were any that I thought looked good. For him, that is – they were all kids games, mostly peopled by TV cartoon characters.
Of course, sometimes he and I do end up liking the same games, like Bookworm Adventure. When I read the description of Peggle Nights, I thought I might just like it myself. (Besides, it’s by Pop Cap Games, same as Bookworm Adventure.) I downloaded it without telling him about it, so that I could surprise him with it at an appropriate time. And when another game he wanted to play yesterday (free, online) turned out to require two email addresses (his, plus mine as a parent), rather than get him an email address I decided to install Peggle Nights.
It’s not exactly a pinball game – only one stage has actually had flippers (shaped like lobster claws, since the hero for that stage was a giant lobster). But it is about hitting pegs with a ball, and the ball bouncing from peg to peg, or bouncing off various obstacles, and getting points for what you hit. You want to hit all the orange pegs, but most of the pegs are blue. You get points for them too, but you want to hit them mostly to get them out of the way.
That’s another big difference – once the ball finally falls off the board, everything you hit (except obstacles) vanishes from the board. So with the next ball, there are fewer pegs in the way – but also fewer things to bounce off and keep the ball from dropping to the bottom. There is a “free ball bucket” that moves back and forth across the bottom, and if the ball fall in, you get a free ball. One of the game tips points out that you can time things so it will fall in there. But my timing is apparently off most of the time.
Since this is a kids game, each level has an animal character (well, actually one is a flower) that is dreaming of doing great things. (That’s why it’s called Peggle Nights – the characters are all dreaming.) The dragon wants to be a firefighter (yes, he knows that’s ironic), the cat wants to be a circus performer, the flower wants to have legs and travel around the world. Each stage also has some special power that green pegs activate (making the free ball bucket wider, making one ball turn into two, lighting up nearby pegs without having to hit them, etc.)
That storyline is mildly interesting. But mostly I want to play pinball. Hit those ball, rack up points, get to the next level. (If you don’t get all the orange pegs, you have to repeat the level – sometimes several times before you finally make it.) It was only with difficulty I finally tore myself away and quit the game. But I’ve almost caught up to where Al is…