The ‘casual game’ that even ‘core’ gamers love, is BACK! For those familiar with the joy of PopCap’s Pachinko-like puzzle game: read this while it’s in the download queue. Truth is, Peggle 2 is simply more Peggle, but better than it has ever been. No surprise, really. For everyone else with curiosity: prepare for fun.
Release date: Dec. 10, 2013
Platform(s): Xbox One
Peggle is a simple premise: aim a static cannon, that shoots a ball, down thru a playable game-board filled with colored pegs. The intention is to clear – having the ball bump pegs - the board of its orange bumpers. Clear all the orange to win. Sure, it may sound boring and lame but it quickly proves to be easily playable and a lot of fun. Watching the ball bounce around pegs is entertaining and the moment-to-moment gameplay is always exciting. It is as if every shot you take embodies the excitement of a 4th-quarter buzzer-beater in a basketball game. This is because there's also a moving basket at the bottom of the board that saves you from wasting a shot - of which you have limited - if the ball finds it.
Then there are the master characters. Master characters – like Bjorn the Unicorn, whose ‘special-shot’ reveals the angles of deflection once the ball is fired - animate on screen and allow you to use their unique ability when your ball hits a random green peg, adding some depth to Peggle’s source of excessive fun. In the interest of not spoiling the Master-abilities, I 'll leave it at this video to tease it...
Single player - 1 of 2 playable modes - progressively trains you to use each of the games 5 ‘Master characters’ through 6 worlds of game-boards. The 6th world allowing the player to choose between the 5 Master characters, adding a sprinkle of strategy to the later game-boards. Tossed into the mix of traditional Peggle screens are ‘Trial’ boards that task the player with increasingly difficult challenges. Challenges like: clearing a 40 peg board with only one ball, chaining together a string of wall-shots, or staying BELOW a score quota are insanely engaging and really kept me coming back for more, no matter how hard the task-at-hand.
Clearing each world rewards you with a chain of Trial Challenges to wonderfully struggle over, as well as a new Master Character to use. Also, clearing each optional challenge, on each board, rewards you with rainbow pieces – an in-game collectable. Clearing those Trial Challenges, too, rewards you with Golden Unicorn Shoes - another in-game collectable. Reward, rewards, reward – everything about Peggle 2 is rewarding. Even the achievements pour-in to constantly remind you of your awesomeness. Gratifying, indeed, and another reason this game is so hard to NOT play when you have 10 minutes to burn.
The thing about Peggle is it is easily a companion to your everyday trot around the house. You can play it in-between folding laundry, cleaning up, or even wrapping holiday presents. Its charming and colorful art, music, and animations make Peggle 2 a joy to be around. Topping it off, Level-design continually grows more interesting and the optional objectives, in each level, give you a reason to come back to enjoy each of them.
[There’s also a multiplayer mode to play, which I struggled to find matches in; due to a lack of fellow reviews-press to play with. I will update my review, once the masses have moved in on the peg bumping action, to report-back on how it shaped up. I don’t feel a lack of multiplayer would hurt the product at all, though. And it does have it, I just couldn't review it in time for the embargo lift ]
Above all that PopCap did to make Peggle 2 as great an experience – if not more – than their 2007 original is avoid the recent trend of implementing micro-transactions. Honestly, I expected to see them. I expected to feel the lurking nag of pay-for-this-cool-Peggle-Master, but was never greeted by that disgusting face. Bravo, PopCap.
Peggle 2 wastes no time cooking up fun. The minute-to-minute gameplay rests with a bit of both luck and skill, rewarding you with exhilarating highs and depressing lows in a non-abusive manner. It’s nearly perfect at being everything it intends to be. When my only complaint with a game is its lack of a leaderboard (to score-chase alongside friends on), it is hard not to recommend. Want to end the year with bright smiles and fist-pumping moments of greatness, without the need to dedicate too much attention to a video game? Get Peggle 2!
Score: 9 / 10
Peggle 2 was provided by PopCap for review on Xbox One.