The Xbox One has its share of twitchy fragfests and grand adventures. It boasts entertainment options and sports programming. But what the system needs is an easy-to-play casual game, something that players can fire up and relax with. Thankfully, that’s a niche that Peggle 2 fills nicely on Microsoft’s new system.
The sequel to the 2007 puzzle title will be familiar to veterans of the series. Players still shoot balls into Plinko-type boards. The balls bounce off pegs making them disappear and eventually falls into a pit or a bucket that sweeps across the bottom. The goal of each stage is eliminate all the orange pegs.
For the uninitiated, Peggle 2 seems random like the Price is Right game. There appears to be plain luck in firing a ball into the pegs and hoping it ricochets off others and into the moving basket, but keep playing and novices will notice the skill and timing involved. Expert players can slide balls down curves or angle them off pegs and into the bucket like a pool shark.
Peggle 2 maintains the gameplay of the original. The sequel updates the visuals so that it has a more polished, cleaner and consistent look. The Peggle Masters are displayed outside the board, where they can show off their personality. They react to different shots and wear different outfits. For fans, seeing all of their animations is one of the draws to keep playing.
As for the new types of pegs, players will encounter armored ones that require more than one hit to knock out. Elsewhere, they’ll encounter pinball-style bumpers that bounce ball all over the place, giving players the potential for high single-shot scores. Lastly, players will encounter more motion in the stages, where pegs shift around in patterns opening up angles for shots and blocking them.
Disappointingly, there are just four new Peggle Masters with Bjorn returning. Jeffrey, who looks like a troll, has a special power that lets players launch a heavy bowling-ball type boulder to obliterate pegs. Berg resembles a yeti and has the ability to freeze the board, letting pegs slide and knock into each other. Gnorman has a Napoleon complex and built a robot suit to make him look bigger. His Uber Volt power is akin to chain lightning with every struck peg injecting its neighbors with a charge. Finally, there’s Luna who has the Nightshade ability that lets her shoot through blue pegs and hail orange ones.
Although there are fewer masters, the levels maintain a high-level of quality. The boards are mostly memorable with their art and configuration. They show off how to use a character’s power fairly well. For veterans, they should be able to handle most of the stages until the Celestial boards, which requires strategy in choosing the right Peggle Master and a higher level of skill.
Tied to every stage are three optional milestones. They’re difficult challenges that will keep players coming back to beat them. If that weren’t enough, there are 10 Peggle Master trials that will put players’ skills to the test. They also happen to be a good teaching tool for beginners. They educate newbies on how to use powers effectively. They can also be frustratingly difficult, but Peggle 2 has a way of just digging its claws into you and goading you to go one more round.
Like all great games, it has a core gameplay concept that’s easy to learn but hard to master. It’s this trait that can keep players frustrated at a stage for hours but still feel compelled to finish it.
Yes, Peggle 2 can be just as rewarding as the original and it doesn’t shift away from a winning formula. But for a full-fledged follow up, I wish there were more to do. The multiplayer can be fun if you can actually get into a match. Finding one can be difficult but if you do get on, competing online can be a blast.
There’s an opportunity for PopCap Games to do more in the follow-up with more new bricks or more multiplayer modes. Perhaps, that could be added on later as the title has room to grow via downloadable content.
- WHAT: Peggle 2
- PLATFORM: Xbox One
- RATING: Everyone
- GRADE: Three stars out of four
Images courtesy of PopCap Games
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