A couple of weeks ago on the NAG Online podcast, Matthew Fick embarrassed himself by telling everybody that he’d been playing Peggle. And, for some reason, he wanted to talk about it. Naturally I humiliated him for his decision, but then he issued a challenge. Play the game for seven days, and write about it.
Challenge accepted, Fick Junior. (An aside, I have no idea which Fick is actually older, but Wesley is the podcast Dad so Matt is forever Junior).
Ah yes, pick a name. I need something masculine and hairy-chested to try and resolve the cognitive dissonance of playing a game intended for teenage girls, so I go with DonJohnson.
DonJohnson is the kind of dude who drinks his whiskey from the bottle and fills his own petrol tank.
After getting through that I’m told I’ll be enrolling in “Peggle University”. A Peggle degree? Really? If I wanted a useless qualification I’d have studied a BFA (oh no he didn’t oh shit I think he did).
Then comes the harbinger of horror himself, Bjorn the Unicorn. I don’t really know if he stylises his name with “the Unicorn”, but if you’re a mythical beast I feel like really you should.
Manly name, though. Whiffed on the species unfortunately.
Bjorn glares at me with unsettling rapey eyes as he tells me he’ll be looking after me as he’s “the boss”. I glance nervously at his horn.
The whole thing feels like some kind of weird cult initiation; I feel like I’ve entered the Church of Scientology. Or maybe prison. Is this how they got Matt hooked on this seemingly awful game?
I tried to alt-tab to write my last will and testament in case I don’t make it out of here, but the game promptly crashes – not the best start.
I log back in.
“Welcome, DonJohnson!” Can’t pretend that doesn’t feel good. Name is a great fit for me, think my parents may have dropped the ball.
“If this is not you, click here.” This feels less good. How many people has this unicorn had its way with? Am I just a number to this hulking sex-beast? Must be compensating for an admittedly small horn.
Quick aside: Peggle is a game where you have a cannon that shoots balls (of which you have a limited amount), which bounce around on different pegs. Some pegs are blue, some orange. Your job is to get rid of the orange pegs, although getting rid of the blue ones does help you get to the orange and improve your score. At the bottom is a bucket that moves from one side to the other – get the ball in there, and you get a free ball.
I head in for my first attempt. These are my first impressions:
This game requires little to no skill, I’m literally just watching a ball bounce around and hoping for the best.
Three free buckets in a row, scratch previous, I’m a goddam Peggle master.
Four balls to spare on the first level, epic music plays, feel like a boss, logoff immediately due to my overinflated ego.
Background has switched to mushrooms for Level 2, which is appropriate since this game feels like I’ve had three handfuls of the magic variety.
Free ball on first shot #stillgotit.
Get the last orange peg with the last ball, music plays, rainbows erupt, my demeanour remains stoic.
DonJohnson doesn’t celebrate, he expects success.
Think I’ve had enough “success” for one day.
Woah, now there’s a peg with MAGIC POWERS. This changes everything. I know what I’m shooting first, and it’s not heroin. That was a strange time to deliver an anti-drug message, but really I do this for the kids, man.
The magic power gave me the option to “fine-tune” my next 3 shots. I declined, and lobbed them with my usual gleeful abandon.
A new message appeared today, “lucky bounce”. Is this somehow implying all bounces aren’t lucky?
I fail my first level. I hate this game and everyone who plays it. I exit immediately to sulk.
Wake up this morning wondering if there are such things as “Peggle Masters”. Head immediately to YouTube.
Dear God, there really are. With commentary.
Highlight is commentators talking about the crowd “loving it” when a smattering of applause happens in the back of the room somewhere. I think it may have just been a fat couple having sex under one of the tables, or a couple of confused gamers who wandered into the wrong room and are trying to avoid awkwardness.
Still, I find myself drawn in when the commentators start discussing one competitor’s opening shot as “risky”. I can’t but scoff at the ludicrousness of pro Peggle, as the commentators gasp in awe at the totally insane pinball plays.
I am, however, forced to confront the possibility that there may actually be an element of skill, and I may just be a really shitty Peggle player.
I don’t think I’ll play today.
Today I decided to grind out a bunch of games and give this thing a fair shot. I learnt many things. Things such as:
1. Good Peggle play requires patience, and timing.
2. I am not a patient man.
3. Not great at timing, either.
4. Peggle requires a bit of luck.
5. Seem to be lacking in that as well.
6. I will concede that you can play this game competitively, but I have no desire to do this anything more than casually.
7. I’m not very good at Peggle.
8. I don’t like Peggle.
Hey, I did say seven days, right? Time to bite the bullet.
At least they try to change up the gameplay with different “powerups” like the ball-bucket-widener. Which is irrelevant, I’m still going to miss it.
I find myself wondering how much of this Matt has actually played, and if he was just trolling all of us when he talked about it on the podcast.
An Origin notification pops up, “<a friend> is playing Peggle!”
I log off immediately, before I’m spotted. Bumping into a friend playing Peggle is like bumping into your Dad at the local brothel.
Reflecting on my time with Peggle, the ups the downs, the struggles, the laughs we shared, the good times we had (and the hard times!), I can’t help but smile a little.
We’ve been through a lot, Peggle and I. And even though this is the last day of our time together, will I be playing it again in the future?
No. Absolutely fucking not.