Andrew Bryant finds some loose change down the back of the settee and spends it in the only way he knows how… On Steam!
Game Title: Peggle Nights
Publisher: PopCap Games
Developer: PopCap Games (via Steam)
Format Reviewed: PC
Peggle was a bit of a casual phenomenon when it landed back in 2007. Many an hour was wasted bouncing balls against coloured pegs in an arbitary fashion under the watchful eye of Bjorn the Unicorn and his compadres at the Peggle Institute. The incredibly simple concept, charming presentation and refined gameplay hid a deep challenge and a 100% score that still evades all but the most die-hard of Peggle alumni.
Cut to the present, apart from a small diversion to create a cut-down demo version (Peggle Extreme) for Valve’s Orange Box release in October 2007, all has been quite on the Peggle-front. But PopCap games are now back with a pseudo-sequel to the original in the form of Peggle Nights.
Taking its cue from Baywatch Nights (urgh), the only change to the format is the setting – gone are the idylic lush green fields and cutesy skateboarding mice – things are getting dark at the Peggle Institute! Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean Bjorn has been murdered, leading you (the player) and the other Peggle Masters on a dark adventure through the seedy underworld to find the killer and avenge his death by bouncing ball bearings off illuminated traffic cones (as good a game as that would be). Rather, the sun has gone down and everyone has gone to sleep – and when people sleep, they dream.
As (possibly) an obtuse nod to Psychonauts, the gameplay revolves around 60 further peg-filled levels, each based around the wants & dreams of the original 10 masters and the Institutes new Master, Marina (read: Jellyfish).
The thing is, apart from the thematic levels, which are tied together by the loosest of storylines (basically one short paragraph per level), the addition of a new ‘ACE’ award for each level and the new Master, there’s nothing else here that we all haven’t seen before. It’s the same game from top to bottom with just a lick of paint here & there and some devilishly hard levels with none of the learning curve the original had.
In a nutshell, I guess it all boils down to how much more Peggle you can take – if the answer is anything other than ‘NONE’, then what’s 10 bucks at the end of the day?
Game Title: Mr. Robot
Developer: Moonpod (via Steam)
Format Reviewed: PC
There’s no other way to describe Mr. Robot without essentially comparing it wholesale with Final Fantasy or one of the other many confusingly popular Japanese CRPGs. Heck, the lead character even looks like the character Robo from Chrono Trigger! Fortunately, that’s as far as its pure console influences go, as there’s a great deal of depth too the game once you scratch the surface.
Set on board a colony ship heading for a distant planet (humanities last hope etc.), the player directs Asimov (see what they did there!), a worker bot with a penchant for adventure and heroic deeds. Gameplay takes place it two forms – isometric free-form platform adventuring and cyberspace combat.
The former type doesn’t feature the most advanced gameplay in the world. Asimov is controlled by either the mouse, keyboard or joypad and can run around, jump (urgh) or interact with items, either by pushing them or pressing the ‘Action’ key. Nothing too hard, although some puzzles can get a bit fiendish in their reliance on lateral thinking, backtracking and jumping puzzles.
Cyberspace, however, is a whole new kettle of fish. Asimov contains several ‘ghost’ units, each of which represents one of his robotic pals saved during the course of the storyline, effectively forming his party. Each can be programmed & customised for different types of attack & defence – the correct one must be used against different enemies to succeed. The ghosts level independently, so the game encourages you to run several at once, lest you encounter a dangerous opponent with only a level 1 ghost capable of resisting its attacks.
As hinted at above, the game features a plethora of pop-culture references (some subtle, others not so), providing plenty of laughs for sci-fi buffs. The graphics are basic, but very servicable, featuring some great texturing to make up for the low-poly models.
Mr. Robot is a game for those after a casual RPG that will still challenge them. Some may have bought directly from Moonpod when the game was released early last year, but the game is now available from Steam too, so you’ve really got no excuse!