Being a spin off from those cheap bouncy arcade machines that had you gambling a coin down a peg-riddled wall to earn tickets, Peggle is a safe bet. This iPhone adaptation goes all in, pairing unbelievably straightforward gameplay with intuitive touch controls and head-to-head multiplayer.
It's not that Peggle delivers more unique features or added levels over its counterparts Peggle mobile and Peggle DS. In fact, the game smartly avoids incorporating use of the accelerometer for its own sake. Rather, Peggle iPhone is a resounding success because it delivers the definitive version of a modern classic.
Ten balls for 100 pegs - the goal is to clear the screen of pegs by nailing them with pinballs. You use your finger to set the trajectory, and balls fly out of a cannon situated the top of the screen and eliminate any pegs that they hit. Alternatively, a click wheel at the right can be flicked to set the firing angle, followed by a tap of the fire button in the upper-right.
Blue pegs dominate the screen, but it's only the orange pegs nestled in a sea of blue that you need to eliminate to move through each of the game's 55 levels. Getting each and every peg is a tall order, but even clearing just the orange ones proves a challenge.
Fortunately, special green pegs activate bonuses when hit, the power differing with each level. Early stages grant a multi-ball bonus when nailing a green peg, another set of levels conjure a pair of flippers at the bottom of the screen to flick the ball back up, while a later stages revive the ball after it falls through the bottom of the screen.
At first look, Peggle appears to be dominated by chance; clearing the screen of orange pegs obstructed by a smattering of blue pegs is a matter of pure probability. The significance of setting the ball's launch trajectory, choosing to eliminate some pegs instead of others, and the use of special powers, however, all give the game a tactical edge that prevents it from being a total crap shoot.
Chance plays a role, though only to the extent that you allow it to. Fail to strategise which pegs to hit or decide when to activate a helpful bonus and the game seems shallow. On the other hand, an effort to plan out each shot and predict every bounce makes for a grippling experience.
There's immense value in this sort of self-motivated gameplay that's only bolstered by the game's tangible worth. Peggle packs in a two-player Duel mode and set of Challenge stages to go along with the lengthy single player Adventure. iPhone-exclusive trophies offer rewards for mastering every stage, too.
About the only thing missing are network leaderboards, though it has everything else: great gameplay, a ton of levels, loads of variety, and it's cute to boot. When you find yourself jonesing to bounce balls with Kat Tut, you know that Peggle has sunk its claws in you and there's no turning away from this winning game.