Game Reviews

Papa Pear Saga

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| Papa Pear Saga
Papa Pear Saga
| Papa Pear Saga

Once upon a time, Angry Birds ruled the roost when it came to smartphone games. Today the undisputed king is Candy Crush Saga from (rather fittingly) a company called King.

Papa Pear Saga is the studio's latest offering, and it's yet another casual confection that has, we can only assume, been painstakingly engineered by a team of game scientists to induce maximum addiction.

I've been tasked with playing it over the course of the next seven days and then telling you whether it deserves a place on your mobile or tablet of choice.

First impressions

I'm already hopelessly addicted to Papa Pear Saga.

Let's make no bones about it - Papa Pear Saga is King's take on Peggle, albeit given a few more social hooks and a freemium tweak. This is totally fine by me, as Peggle is one of the best games ever made.

You launch Papa Pears at small fruit bits arranged on a board, and they bounce about on these in much the same way that the steels balls bounce from the pins in a pachinko machine. The difference here is that these pegs will be removed from play after a certain number of hits, adding to your points total.

You can fire three Papa Pears on the screen at once, and you're only able to fire another after one of them reaches the bottom of the screen and drops into a pot waiting to swallow it up.

But just because you can only fire three Papa Pears, that doesn't mean only three will be on the board at any one time. A number of Boosters are on-hand to multiply the balls on the screen, or grow those balls to an enormous size, or surround them in fire to make their hit range even wider.

There are also additional, much more powerful bonuses that will change the way you approach a table. The Cherry Bomb, for example, can be placed and detonated to remove particularly pesky pegs that you just can't seem to reach.

To finish a stage you need to meet a set objective and score enough points. Clear a number of Acorns, get one Papa Pear into each pot, bring all the large fruits to the bottom of the screen - there's a good variety of things to do in Papa Pear Saga, and you'll have to think about the layout of each table to succeed.

The physics of the Papa Pear "balls" don't appear to be as realistic Peggle's, but they are absolutely as consistent. The gameplay is an even balance of luck and skill: you make chances for yourself and minimise the risk of an unlucky failure through careful aiming and good judgement.

All of which has me hooked. So if you don't mind I'll end today's update here and get back to the game.

Day 3: Five a day

A crucial element of Papa Pear Saga is its adorable presentation, and how this feeds into the overall excitement and enthusiasm it creates.

Here's a typical scenario: you finally hit the last Acorn you need to complete a tricky level, and the Papa Pear drops into a smiling pot below. As soon as this happens, a squeaky voice yells “Papa Fiesta”, and a shower of rainbows bursts out of said pot while fireworks explode in the background.

Then an infinitely cheery soundtrack kicks in, a scoreboard pops up, and a little green blob of a man begins to dance for joy.

Its positivity is infectious, but not sickening. It's sweet without being saccharine.

Making the experience even better is the fact that when you return to the large challenge map you can compare your score with your friends' - as long as you've signed into the game via Facebook

There's nothing in this life more satisfying than finishing a tough level and seeing that you're ahead of Chris James on the scoreboard. Nothing.

The only drawback I've experienced so far is that I'm occasionally prevented from playing because I've lost too many lives on a harder stage. The wait is agonisingly long if you don't want to pay for more lives, do it's best to confine your sessions to commutes and toilet visits.

The game has been phenomenal fun so far, and that shows no signs of changing. King might just have a real winner on its hands.

Day 7: Keeping the doctor away

Today I combined a giant Papa Pear with a Papa Fire power-up to create a destructive force of titanic proportions. In doing so I beat a level that has had me perplexed for the last hour. Today has been a good day.

When I'm not playing Papa Pear Saga I can't stop thinking about how to beat the next level without resorting to the paid power-ups on offer. So far I haven't encountered a single area I can't beat without spending a dime, but the power-ups are there if I want to splash out and get past a particularly tough stage.

Crucially, there's no great pressure to spend, if that's not something you're interested in doing. Each level is a puzzle to work out, and if you're skilled at the game you'll make progress.

In this way it answers many of the criticisms players might have about its more luck-based match-three stablemate Candy Crush Saga, and this allows the joyous presentation to shine through that much brighter.

The anti-free-to-play crowd will no doubt immediately dismiss Papa Pear Saga before they've played it as, “Peggle with in-app purchases”. They don't know what they're missing out on.

This is as essential an experience for the everyday mobile gamer as Candy Crush Saga is, and - just like that game - it will assuredly have a place on your phone for months and months to come.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.

Papa Pear Saga

Move over Candy Crush Saga, the crown for fast-paced puzzling crown now rightfully belongs to Papa Pear