Peggle 2. It’s more Peggle. Go and buy it now. Review over.
What… We need to do more than that? But that’s the magic of Peggle 2. It doesn’t have a bunch of unneeded bells and whistles. It doesn’t have microtransactions or special online game types. It doesn’t interface with the Xbox Smart Glass or anything like that. It’s just more Peggle, and that’s all that Peggle fans wanted in the first place.
For the uninitiated, Peggle is kind of a combination between Pachinko and Breakout. Each level tasks you with firing a ball downward toward a bunch of colored pegs with the goal of clearing all the orange colored pegs before you run out of balls. Hitting a peg causes your ball to ricochet around the level, before falling down into a pit below. There is a moving bucket in this pit which will give you your ball back if you manage to land in it after bouncing around the pegs, and getting a high enough score will get you free balls as well. After each ball, the pegs you hit disappear and you repeat the process all over again.
This sounds simple, and that’s because it is. Peggle, and more specifically Peggle 2, are fine examples of games that are perfectly carried by their gameplay. The only thing that needs to be done to keep this formula feeling fresh is to change up a stages layout. Moving pegs? Sure. Pegs situated like buckets and ramps? Why not? Pegs arranged to clearly create a massive chain reaction? Even better. Then there are the pegs that take multiple hits to break, the score multiple pegs, the power-up pegs, and more. There is always something new for Peggle 2 to throw at you, whether it’s a stage shaped like a goblet or a level with a few pegs that you have to hit with only one ball.
Speaking of power-ups, the type of power-up you get is determined by the Peggle Master you are playing as. These animated cartoony characters hang out in the bottom left corner of the screen and don’t do much really aside from reacting to your shots and determining what power-up you have access to. They certainly add a lot of personality to the game, however. Each even has its own rousing classical music end theme that blares every time you complete a level.
Choice of Peggle Master is deceptively important, however. The default Peggle Master gives you the super guide ability which shows where your ball will bounce to after you fire it. It’s a simple but useful power that gets you through the early levels, but will quickly be overshadowed in more complex levels. Other Peggle Masters let you do things like release chain lightning bursts that clear multiple pegs every time you hit one, freeze the stage so that pegs slide around like hockey pucks when you hit them, potentially clearing more pegs for you, or even turn all pegs but the ones needed to complete the stage intangible.
Each Peggle Master has its own stages and challenges to complete. One you clear a set of stages with its standard Peggle Master, you can then play it with any unlocked master, which is where you can really rack up high scores. Got a level with pegs packed tightly together? Choose the yeti and let the ice power-up clear the whole level in one or two shots. Heck, there’s even a Peggle Master that is an alcoholic bowling troll! Aside from these new Peggle Masters is the addition of some pretty neat challenge levels that give you goals outside of the normal “clear all the orange pegs.”
Peggle 2 is the same Peggle that you always remembered and that’s a good thing. PopCap realized they didn’t have to re-invent the wheel here and just about everyone can agree that the budget price of $12 is right on the money for another Peggle experience.
If you really want to try mixing things up you can play Peggle 2 with Kinect gesture controls if you like... but that doesn't mean you should. The motion controls feel inaccurate and shouting at your Kinect to let loose a ball is just silly. There is also a somewhat enjoyable multiplayer mode where players try to best each other's score, but the original "Duel" style multiplayer mode where two players play on the exact same board is not present. Luckily, PopCap says it will be patched in at a later date.
Perhaps the greatest problem with Peggle 2 is that there just isn’t enough of it. Any decently skilled player can blow through stage after stage at a blazing clip, eventually leaving you with not much to do. There are only five Peggle Masters which is enough to keep you interested till the end, but it would have been nice to have a few more. The Peggle Masters are easily the most interesting part of the game and including only five feels kind of like a missed opportunity. We also can’t help but feel like a few more are being held back for downloadable content sometime in the future.
Note that Peggle 2 is still a casual game at the end of the day. There’s a lot of randomness that factors into each stage, and this can frustrate gamers that are looking for a more traditional test of skill. However, you’d be hard pressed to find a better casual game on the market right now, especially on the Xbox One platform. Granted, Peggle 2 is probably a better fit for iOS or Andorid devices, but even home console gamers need to just zone out to a simple puzzle game while Ode to Joy blares in the background.
So… yeah. Peggle 2. It’s more Peggle. Go and buy it now. Review over.
This review was based on a retail copy of Peggle 2 for the Xbox One.