Back from a tough day at work? Have things at home been less-than-optimal? Could your life be best described as a “never-ending torrent of shame and misery”? Well, those are, er, probably things you should look into fixing, but – if the the results of a recent East Carolina University study pan out – don't be surprised to see your therapist's interrogation couch (or whatever those things are called) replaced by a gaming PC.
I’ve been playing Peggle lately, and – confession time – I love it.
Despite the attached “casual timesink” stigma and even though the game’s main gameplay conceit is essentially as complex as watching a slinky bounce down a staircase, I can’t get enough of it. On top of that, it serves as a perfect contrast to the other stigma-prone game I’m currently loving in that can’t-let-the-family-find-out sort of way: Mirror’s Edge. Why the wariness? Well, Mirror’s Edge was supposed to lead EA’s innovation charge, but the game’s over-reliance on frustrating trial-and-error-based gameplay caused it to fall slightly short of its lofty goal.
As with Peggle, though, that “controversial” gameplay conceit is my main reason for loving it so much. So, to sum up: Peggle is simple and fun, while Mirror’s Edge is brutal, but still enjoyable. Playing one when I’m fed up with the other makes them perfect compliments. End of story, right?
But this complimentary contrast isn’t without a point. See, typically, the ridicule Peggle receives is purely in jest. The game’s casual and addictive, so – obviously – you’re putting your hardcore gamer cred on the line by playing it. “Oh that Nathan! Giving [Big Name Game X] the cold shoulder for Peggle? What a loon!” And then hilarity ensues. Etc. But the truth is, Peggle’s a fantastic game, and most will acknowledge that.
Mirror’s Edge’s jump-die-jump-die-???-profit shtick, though? That’s the kind of thing that inspires gamepad-shaped holes in the wall and cursing strings that’d make Q-Bert blush. Lower than expected review scores and a general air of disappointment shortly after the game’s release reflect that. As a result, I’d wager that the type of gameplay Mirror’s Edge took so many verbal blows for is on its way out. Which is a shame, because I think it still has a place in today’s gaming climate.
Read on to find out why Mirror's Edge 2 -- if one ever appears -- probably won't be much like the first.
And now, a letter from the future, courtesy of older Nathan Grayson’s toaster/time machine combo:
“URGENT WARNING: SEND THIS TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE. IF YOU RUN OUT OF PEOPLE, GET MARRIED AND MAKE MORE.
Hello there… oh, hold one second…. Right then, where were we? Oh, right – the warning. Uh, just another quick break. No, really; this is the last one. It’s just that, you know, I’m smack dab in the middle of a quick Peggle match and, wouldn’t you know it, I’m so, so close to finally smashing that little silver ball right through the high score I achieved the day after I dropped out of college.
Oh, yes, college just ended up not being your cup of silver balls bouncing everywhere every time I close my eyes. You know, what with Peggle taking up all your study time and whatnot. After they put the ungodly addictive casual game Peggle into World of Warcraft with a free, no-hassle add-on on April 23, 2009, they decided to jam it into every appliance that registered on the visible light spectrum. Cars, calculators, dogs – you name it. Complete and total submission was unavoidable.
So, I’m just gonna go check out a few Peggle hints now for some please send help. Really, it’s probably best that I skedaddle now anyway; people are probably starting to wonder why – even though the entire world is in an apparent state of technological and cultural stagnation – we’ve managed to invent cheap, compact time machines and fuse them with common household appliances. Er, I fear I’ve said too much.”
It sure is a good thing we received this message in tim—oh lord it's April 24 we're all doomed!