What’s better than getting a new game? How about getting four games on the one disc?  Here we have some of the most addictive games all bundled together for the first time. Astropop, Feeding Frenzy, Bejeweled 2 and Peggle are all present on the disc, but also available to download individually from XBLA. It would be fair to say that Bejeweled 2 and Peggle are the better known games in this package, so I’ll leave them to last; but what of Feeding Frenzy and Astropop?  Well I diligently played through them and these are my thoughts on them.

I had never played Astropop in any form before, all these games have previously been hits on the PC so I approached it as a newbie.  What I found was an engaging puzzle game that plays almost in reverse of traditional brick puzzle games.  Set in space, you can grab falling blocks to your ship in an attempt to make four of the same colour, when you have four you then shoot them back up the screen to explode them.  If you have four blocks of the same colour and they touch same coloured block or blocks at the top of the screen, they disappear too.  Sounds simple, and to start it is, but as usual, the game speeds up and you find yourself frantically trying to gather and place your blocks.  Destroy enough blocks and you get a SUPA weapon that obliterates any block it touches, good old smart weapons!  It does what all the best puzzle games do, that is, drag you in for one more go.

Feeding Frenzy is a game that I had played a while ago when it first came out on the 360, I thoroughly enjoyed it then, so it was good to return to it.  This game can be summed up by saying it’s all about there always being a bigger fish to fry.  You start as a small fish only able to eat fish smaller than you, eat enough and you will evolve in to a bigger fish, keep eating enough and you will activate a “Frenzy” where you can eat any fish for a short period of time.  Each level ends when you become the largest fish with no predators bigger than you. You have to watch out, though, as you are evolving, fish bigger than you can eat you.  It all looks suitably under-watery and quite cartoon like, as with Astropop, it drags you kicking for one more go.

One more go is an impossibility with Bejeweled 2, yes the classic office/bus/train/toilet timewaster is here in all it’s glory.  It feels wrong to even have to tell you about Bejeweled because I’m sure that there can be no one who has yet to fall victim to its addictive, yet simple charms.  Since this is a review and some of you may not have heard of it, I shall summarise.  You have a grid filled with different coloured shapes, you can swap the position of one shape to that of any other shape at it’s compass points to attempt to get three matching shapes in a horizontal or vertical line.  If you manage this, the shapes will disappear and the shapes above will fill the spaces, you can get a line of four, five maybe even six shapes and they will all vanish.  Four shapes together will leave a power jewel that will give greater points if it is part of a row, three power jewels together is unheard of in my games.  Seriously addictive and available on almost every format, Bejeweled (2) is a puzzle fans’ wet dream.

To finish the package we have a modern puzzle classic in the form of Peggle.  To the uninitiated, Peggle is very similar to a Japanese ball bearing game called Pachinko or a game I used to play as child called Bagatelle. Confused?  I shall explain.  The screen is filled with dots of three colours, these are the Peggles. You launch a ball at the Peggles to remove them from the screen. Sounds easy enough.  The tricky part is that you have a limited number of balls and you only want to destroy the orange Peggles, however, they can be hidden behind other peggles making them seem impossible to hit.  Green Peggles give you a power up, specific to your character, purple ones give you bonus points and the blue ones are there to get in your way.  Once you have launched your ball from the top of the screen it ricochets against the peggles with some amazing physics until it reaches the bottom of the screen.  It will either fall off the screen, resulting in a lost ball or fall in a bucket meaning you can use it again.  There are various game modes and characters to choose from, all offering their own twist on things. But at the very heart of it, Peggle is the ultimate in one more go gaming.  Bright, colourful, appealing and as addictive as stuff that’s bad for you.







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