A few months back when we first caught wind of Peggle Nights we couldn’t help but notice that it looked an awful lot like Peggle.  The screens made it appear as though it were more evolution than revolution, and now that it’s here it seems as though our speculation was exactly right. 

But does it matter?  Did Peggle Nights really need to make bold changes from it’s predecessor to be worth your time?  Or is there enough to love with new boards, humor and challenges to make Nights worth a gander to Peggle veterans?  Hit the jump to find out.

Rather than being a full-fledged sequel, Peggle Nights plays like a standalone expansion to the original Peggle.  New stages and challenges are the heart of Nights, and if like many of us you couldn’t get enough of the first game you’ll be pleased to know they’re all up to snuff in terms of their well-crafted and imaginative nature.  The stories that frame the theme for each level have changed as well, and really put the “nights” in Peggle Nights.  This time around you’re exploring the dreams of each of the main characters from the original title.  Bjorn the unicorn dreams of being a superhero.  Renfield dreams of being a famous painter.  Master Hu wants to be in a rock band.  The levels and humor all revolve around these dreams, with title like “Bjorn Idenitity” accompanying many of the stages.

While exploring the nighttime machinations of the characters from the previous game was fun, it would have been better if there were some new powers to mix things up.  I found it really surprising that the dream versions of these characters didn’t have new powers to replace their old ones.  It would have been a simple change, and I can’t quite imagine why they didn’t pursue it.  One new character and her accompanying power are introduced at the end, but it felt like a long road to get to some new gameplay.

A lack of new pegs surprised me as well.  Orange, green, purple and blue are all back, all with their originally assigned tasks.  Introducing some new colored pegs with new purposes — maybe a red peg that reassigned the orange ones, or a yellow peg that gave a free ball — would have been a fairly simple tweak to the formula that introduced something truly different in Nights.

Of course, all of the complaints above don’t take away from the fact that this is still Peggle and Peggle is hella fun.  And as any survivor of the first game will tell you, the Adventure mode is really just precursor to the real game — Challenges.  Challenges are pre-determined obstacles that only a true Peggle Master can overcome.  Things like “Get 250,000 points with only 3 zen shots,” or “Beat the level but stay under 125,000 points.” This time around the challenges have become far more varied and strikingly cooler in their gameplay.  Things like Peggle Pinball have been introduced, using Lord Cinderbottom’s fireball as the pinball and Claude’s flippers as — well — flippers.  If you’ve mastered the challenges in the original Peggle, you’re going to find something fresh and appealing to bite into with Nights.

A few other tweaks, like widescreen recognition (I won’t say support — it still plays in 4:3) are a welcome change from the last game.  Peggle was great, but being forced to play it stretched or in a window seemed downright silly in this day and age.

The last addition to Nights is something that hasn’t even rolled out yet, but remains super appealing in theory.  PopCap will be offering Bonus Levels for download periodically.  So now your Peggle experience doesn’t have to end with the product you’ve purchased — there’ll be more to add to it on the way!

If you haven’t played Peggle yet, you’re an embarrasment to yourself and your family.  If you have, then you know already know what your in for with Peggle Nights.  A few small tweaks aside the package plays exactly like the original Peggle, and for the most part we think that’s a good thing.

Peggle Nights is available on the PopCap store for $19.95.