December 10, 2013
At face value, we'd have never thought that Peggle would unapologetically consume hours of our life and never give them back. But lo, it did upon its release back in 2007, and still does today, as we dip into it on occasion to satisfy our Peggle cravings. And now it's back for more with Peggle 2, bringing a new cast of characters, a whole bunch of new levels and thousands more pegs to pop. It's Peggle as you know and love it, but does it maintain the staples that made it such a joy the first time around?
Much as you'd expect, Peggle 2 plays virtually the same as the first game with it's pachinko-inspired ball on peg action, but it's the characters that bring new gameplay mechanics to the party. Bjorn the unicorn is the only returning Peggle Master, complete with his good old super guide ability, while new Peggle Masters Jeff the troll, Berg the yeti, Gnorman the gnome and Luna the erm, undead little girl, each bring their own unique abilities to the party. Like the Peggle characters of old, you'll soon have your favourites, although some character's green peg abilities tend to work better on certain Peggle boards, meaning experimentation can often be in order.
Jeff, The Big Lebowski homaging troll, can shoot a huge 'bowlder' down the screen, smashing through any pegs in its path, while Berg's ability requires a more deft touch as it puts the whole board in a deep freeze, causing circular pegs to bounce off one another and slide around the screen when hit. Obviously the latter ability is practically useless in levels comprised more of rectangular pegs than round ones. It's in these levels that Gnorman comes into his own, able to light up three adjoining or nearby pegs with an electrically charged 'uber volt' ball.
Luna's 'nightshade' ability initially seems like the most useless until you get the hang of it, enabling the ball to pass through blue pegs and make a beeline for those all-important orange ones. Being able to ghost past and eliminate blue pegs, you're also able to accumulate score by passing through blue pegs you've already eradicated, potentially resulting in some huge scores. Regardless of which Peggle Master you choose, Peggle 2 still feels like that same old game of mild skill and shot placement, with a hefty dollop of luck required to rack up the really high scores.
Peggle 2's colourful and more animated presentation gives a sense of freshness beyond the new characters and abilities too, as your chosen Peggle Master dances to the left of the Peggle board, celebrating skilful shots while lamenting rubbish ones. Bjorn still enjoys the bluster of Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy', which he now gleefully headbangs to upon clearing the board, but Jeff, Berg, Gnorman and Luna each have their own piece of iconic classical music to rock out to whenever you reach Extreme Fever, or indeed Ultimate Extreme Fever. You can't help but giggle as Berg jiggles his pixellated yeti arse at the screen as exuberant classical music plays.
There's plenty of content in Peggle 2 to keep you occupied too, with each of the five Peggle Masters enjoying ten campaign levels apiece, as well as ten trials that smartly mix things up a bit. Yet with only five characters as opposed to the first Peggle's ten, you can't help but feel a little shortchanged. There's a relative lack of variety as a result too, with 100 levels spread across the five masters and a further twenty available to play in the cosmos as a Peggle Master of your choosing. Again, there's plenty to do, but there's simply not the same level of variety or need to adapt your tactics to each board as the first Peggle. Upon completing the game, you can go back and tackle levels with any of the characters and complete objectives, but once you've aced all of that, the only incentive for return visits is topping your high scores.
Multiplayer keeps things afloat once you've mastered single-player, with the 'Peg Party' mode catering for up to four players online. You can use Smart Match to play with strangers who play alongside you via picture-in-picture, competing for the highest score that's tallied between each shot or round. It's tense, compulsive stuff that can also be played in a private lobby with friends if you prefer. Peg Party is simple and straightforward fun, though the apparent lack of the turn-based local multiplayer from the original Peggle seems like an oversight. Peggle 2 multiplayer is fairly bare bones with only the Peg Party mode on offer, but one would suspect there's more to come, probably via the 'coming soon' shopping trolley icon on the game's menu screen. You can expect new Peggle Masters offered as DLC too, no doubt.
Achievements-wise, Peggle 2 is a nice easy 1000G, offering up some nice big chunks of Gamerscore for simply completing the single-player campaign. There are one or two achievements for performing various skill shots or clearing boards in a certain way, but by and large, most of the list is dedicated to progression, as well as completing trials and optional objectives. A perfectly serviceable list, and one that deserves special kudos for an achievement named “All the Cheevos!” Nice.
Peggle 2 is a cacophonous, gloriously addictive technicolour sequel that Peggle devotees will have already bought in their mind long ago when the game was announced. Those Peggle fans won't be disappointed, as PopCap has ensured that Peggle 2 is exactly what we wanted, and that's simply more Peggle. Having only five characters is somewhat disappointing and results in less variety than its predecessor, but Peggle 2 is nonetheless an ode to Peggle joy that's nigh-on impossible to resist. You'll be suffering from Extreme Peggle Fever again in no time.
Unique sounds and music for each Peggle Master keep the aural accompaniment fresh, and ensure that you're constantly smiling like a loon throughout.
A far more colourful and animated affair than the previous Peggle, the sequel is positively bursting with character and personality. Character celebrations in particular are a joy.
It's Peggle. Really, what more do you need to know?
The only downside to Peggle 2. While there's plenty to do, there are too few Peggle Masters to mess around with. More characters would have made Peggle 2 an infinitely more appealing prospect. A dearth of multiplayer (especially local multiplayer) options is also a letdown.
A neat achievement list, but one that's focused primarily on progression and completion. There's a couple of clever skill-based tasks to complete. Not a bad list all round.
Peggle 2 is a gloriously addictive sequel that'll slap a great big smile on your face and keep it there. Joyous.