Peggle has a long and celebrated heritage that goes back much further than the web-based game that spawned all these conversions. Its origins are found in bagatelle, pinball and, most recently, Pachinko - rebounding balls and basic mechanics that somehow manage to delight the player who's done nothing more than trigger the metal sphere into pin-bouncing action.
But strangely entertaining it is, and that's been proven repeatedly by each new iteration of PopCap's renowned casual game, Peggle. We've been waiting a long time for it to land on the mobile, and it's got a host of fantastic versions to live up to. So how does it fare?
Well, at one time it seemed as though Peggle relied on a nice big screen full of pretend pins for the ball to ricochet its lively way around - and that's what the original desktop-based version had in abundance. But then the iPhone and DS took up the virtual ball bearing and proved that miniaturised Peggle worked just as well. The mobile graciously provides further testimony that even tiny balls and pegs can provide hours of gaming excellence.
For those who've missed the Peggle train for the last couple of years, it's important to remember that it can sound rather lacklustre in explanation, but stands proudly alongside Bejeweled, Jewel Quest, and even Tetris - all rather tedious to describe to a newcomer, but unhealthily addictive to play.
A marker at the top of the screen points the direction in which the ball will be fired, and aiming carefully at this point pretty much constitutes your role in Peggle. Once the ball is launched, it bounces and ricochets around the formations of coloured pins - lighting them up as it touches them - until gravity pulls it through the pattern of pegs and drops it off the bottom. To add a bit of variety to the game's many levels, there are also tiles (which work in the same way as pegs) creating flowing platforms for the ball to skate along.
Any pegs hit during the ball's descent vanish from the play area, and clearing the screen of all the orange pins in a certain number of goes is the ultimate goal of each level. But predicting the journey the ball's going to take through the many different arrangements of pegs is mightily difficult. It's pretty much fathomable for the first bounce, and maybe even the second, but the superbly realistic reaction the sphere makes when bouncing off the pins makes the whole system far too organic to accurately forecast.
Strangely enough, the randomness of a well-played game of Peggle doesn't harm its appeal in the slightest. The variety of additional gameplay aspects, such as scoring a bonus for hitting two particularly far-apart non-blue pins in a row, winning a multi-ball for hitting a pink peg or shoring up a high score by landing on the purple ones, keep the spectator sport aspects as addictive as planning the initial shot. To close out each go with a bit of extra excitement, a drum moves steadily from side to side at the bottom of the screen, granting you an extra go if the ball should land in it.
In many respects, there are no surprises with Peggle mobile - we expected a fantastic game, and PopCap gave us one. All it needed was a first rate conversion, and the excellent gameplay would do the rest. From old pieces of wood perforated with carefully arranged nails to the miniature music players with volume buttons acting as controllers, Peggle seems to be a success no matter where it goes - and this mobile version proves it.