Peggle 2 Review
If you’ve ever had a gambling problem – and/or a soft spot for slot machines in particular – it might be worth staying as far away from Peggle 2 as physically possible.
The Peggle series (just three games old, amazingly) has never exactly been lacking in subtlety, but this latest sequel takes the concept of gratifying presentation to a whole new level.
It should surprise nobody that EA and Popcap’s auspicious franchise has its roots firmly planted in Japanese pachinko gambling, because your every success is accompanied by an audiovisual fanfare which is, to be blunt, utterly insane.
Peggle 2 – Ode To Joy
Vibrant rainbows and fireworks explode from every corner of the screen, accompanied by the (almost violent) final crescendo of songs like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and Peer Gynt’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. Your cannon fires loud bullets at nothing, unfeasibly large numbers multiply at speed, and (during the opening level tier, at least) the madness is exacerbated via the sight of a head-banging unicorn.
Thankfully that boisterous chaos isn’t followed by a request for you to insert coins – at least, not yet – and it’s just as well, because Peggle 2 is even more polished and feverishly compelling than its duo of predecessors.
An intense game of skill made palatable by the sheer prevalence of blind luck, it’s the kind of thing that anybody can pick up and immediately understand, but with a fearsome depth that’ll tantalise even the most hardcore of gamers.
Peggle 2 – How It Works
For the uninitiated Peggle is essentially tenpin bowling, only you fire your digital marble from the top of the playing area instead of the bottom, and there are often hundreds of p§ins (or pegs) instead of just ten.
You can use two power-ups per level – which brings an important element of strategy to the table – and you can nullify lost balls by catching them in the oblong chamber that’s permanently on the move at the bottom of the screen.
Levels are still sectioned off into large groups, each one governed over by a different “Master”. First up is Bjorn, the aforementioned unicorn who has basically become Peggle’s unofficial mascot, and who still gifts you with the game’s least interesting power-up: an adaptable guide waypoint. The rest of the gang are all new to the series.
This includes Jeff, a drunken troll who repeatedly reels off quotes from The Big Lebowski before allowing you to use his powerful, path-clearing boulder attack. Ballet dancing yeti Berg is able to loosen pegs with his icy breath for one turn (meaning that all knocked pegs then cause collateral damage) and is prone to mooning you when he gets excited. Meanwhile Gnorman is an elf who deploys an electrified proximity charge, and Luna is a wide-eyed ghost who can trigger “Nightshade” which renders those pesky blue pegs totally transparent.
The campaign is comprised of a more-than-generous haul of 60 levels – flanked by an additional batch of 60 “Trials” – and as you’d expect the difficulty escalates rather perfectly.
Peggle 2 – The Review
Testing your aim and knowledge of basic physics is great fun for twenty or so levels, but before long everything in the play zone starts to move, and fine-tuning your sense of timing becomes even more important than accurately nailing your targets every time.
Those “Trials” aren’t mere tutorials either: they’re devious mini-games that force (often very harsh) strictures upon you, and series veterans are going to be in absolute heaven.
At first you’re asked to do things like beat specific high scores, but those tasks quickly give way to brutal skill-shot challenges and runs where you have to clear large sections using nothing but long shots. A breeze they aren’t.
At the time of writing the game’s (apparently quite substantial) multiplayer component isn’t yet online, and the single-player is occasionally prone to the same irritating dashboard crashes as the current version of Battlefield 4. Two instances in five hours isn’t unforgivable, but it’s extremely unwelcome.
Nevertheless, Peggle 2 is about as good as expected, and that’s plenty good enough.
Version Tested: Xbox One