Peggle Blast Coming to iOS, Android on December 2 [Interview]

Peggle BlastEarlier this year, Electronic Arts and PopCap announced the development of Peggle Blast, a free-to-play installment in the popular franchise, which challenges players to shoot balls at pegs to remove them from the screen. The company has now announced an official release date for the title, as Peggle Blast will hit iOS and Android devices on December 2.

We had a chance to chat with Robert Einspruch, senior producer of Peggle Blast, about the game’s development, and the new features users can expect when they try the game next month.

Inside Mobile Apps: Who are the new Peggle Masters, and what sorts of special powers or perks will they offer to players?

Robert Einspruch: We’ll be adding new content for Peggle Blast on a regular basis, but the game launches with six Masters, including two fan favorites, Bjorn and Jimmy.

  • Bjorn the Unicorn is back, and gives you a Super Shot skill to be incredibly precise with your shots
  • Jimmy Lightning also returns and gives players an explosive multiball power-up that splits the ball into three, for maximum peg-blasting power
  • Pearl the Octopus extends her tentacles on the side of the frame to catch and shoot the ball from a different vantage point.
  • Kablooey the Peacock (otherwise known as Kyle Abernathy Blue the 3rd) explodes blue pegs and everything around them with his feather eruption
  • Batrina (a bat, of course!) uses her Sonic Shriek to shatter any pegs in her path.
  • Shelldon the Snail releases slime that slowly rolls down the pegs and drips peg-melting slime on the board.

Peggle BlastIMA: From the game’s early screenshots, it appears we’ll have access to power-ups, like trajectory lines, while playing. What other sorts of powers will players have access to?

RE: In addition to all the Master’s Powers mentioned above, you will have access to some explosive new boosts. These include the awesome Ring of Fire, which surrounds your shot with flames, extending the ball’s range, giving you immunity to fire pits, and burning anything in its path. The Super Guide sets players up for those tricky ricochets and long shots. The Egg Net rescues falling Phoenix eggs and helps you get past egg levels. You can also get Extra Green Pegs, which give you the opportunity to unlock the Master’s Power one more time, and Extra Balls which give you an additional three balls to help complete the level. And finally, Time Bomb Extenders reset the time bomb obstacle and give you five extra shots.

IMA: How will players be able to spend money in Peggle Blast? Are there plans for the game to be ad-supported?

RE: Players can purchase boosts to help them move through levels faster.

The game is free-to-play and will also feature ads at launch. Players will be able to earn extra boosts, turns, and lives by watching video ads. Watching the ads and claiming the rewards will be integrated in a way that is as seamless as making a purchase from the App Store or Google Play Store.

IMA: Will there be a lives system in Peggle Blast, which limits the amount of gameplay users can experience in a single session?

RE: Players will start off with five lives which regenerate over time. If they sign into Facebook, they’ll have a bonus life. They can also purchase the Master Heart, which gives them unlimited lives throughout a Master’s World. While the main line of progression does require a player to have at least one life, s/he can replay any level on the map for free. So players that are out of lives can replay levels to earn all three stars [or] earn high scores (this will be big when leaderboards are released).

IMA: How many levels will be available at launch, and are there plans to bring additional level packs to the game after release?

RE: There will be over 90 levels available to play at launch. There will be additional levels added (with new Masters) on a regular basis after launch.

Peggle BlastIMA: Let’s say someone has already played Peggle Classic on mobile (or any version of Peggle on another console). What sorts of new and “can’t miss” features about Peggle Blast would you point out to them?

RE: Peggle Blast brings players a whole new level of fun. New Masters, puzzles and obstacles create new challenges Peggle players have never seen before. Hatch Phoenix Eggs and drop Rainbow Gems, use keys to solve puzzles, hit Time Bombs before they explode, stop goop-dripping Gnomes from hopping around the board, and avoid ball-burning Fire Pits. Players will even get to duel an evil unicorn! There is a ton to do in Peggle Blast, with more to come!

IMA: Peggle tends to not only offer a fun gameplay experience, but a humorous one as well. How does the team balance the challenge and humor / fun in the game, even as levels become harder? In other words, how does the team balance challenge and entertainment, so users keep playing, rather than quitting?

RE: In order to keep the game feeling fresh, we regularly introduce the player to a diverse cast of Peggle Masters who add their own quirky flair and personalities to the gameplay. Preserving the humor that made the original Peggle such a delight is very important to us. Stephen Notley, who wrote much of the text in the original Peggle, wrote most of the dialog in this game as well. We also have lots of other magical surprises coming up, so stay tuned.

We have also found that the challenge is the fun! While on-boarding players requires a modest pacing in terms of difficulty (something we learned over multiple iterations of the game during soft launch), the advanced game is really about solving challenging puzzles. If the puzzles are not hard, the player isn’t learning. If the player isn’t learning, s/he is just doing.

IMA: The level-based design of Peggle seems perfectly suited to become a free-to-play mobile game. Was there a particular reason the game never went in this true “free-to-play” direction until now?

RE: Peggle has only ever been a port for mobile in the past. PopCap built Peggle Blast from the ground-up to be a great mobile experience. Not only is it free-to-play, but its under 60MB, it’s playable with one finger (built in portrait), and it’s available both on iOS and Android for the first time. We spent a lot of time designing completely new game mechanics and puzzles to make sure Peggle Blast is a game players will love and want to keep playing.

Editor’s Note: Check out a behind-the-scenes video for the game’s orchestral recording process below: