Peggle 2 Review: It's finally here!
Peggle is easily the most casual game there is. I can say this because out of all the casual games I tried to have my wife play, nothing held her attention as much as both Peggle and Peggle Nights did. It's no surprise that Peggle 2 was welcomed with open arms. Making its debut as a timed exclusive on the Xbox One, Peggle 2 continues to be a highly addictive game, if completely unworthy of a next-gen release.
At its core, Peggle 2 still revolves around shooting a set of 10 silver balls at colored pegs. Your goal is to clear all of the orange pegs before you run out of balls. The fact is that the game is about 10% skill and 90% luck, since aside from your initial shot's trajectory, the ball can fly anywhere across the board. Throw in moving pegs, and you have absolutely no predictability in what you're going to hit. Of course, sometimes you get amazing shots that make you think "How the hell did I just pull that off?!" as it bounces off five orange pegs that are all opposite of each other, then bounces off the wall, hits a purple peg worth extra points and lands in the ball catcher on the bottom of the screen. It's those moments that make you feel like a complete badass, even though you're literally just bouncing a ball down colored pegs as a fanciful Unicorn is cheering you on.
However, that presentation is largely a part of its charm. Each of the game's Masters are caricatured creatures, like the aforementioned Unicorn Bjorn, or the lovable Yeti, Berg, each with their own special powers that are activated upon hitting a green peg. Bjorn has a super guide, which shows where the ball will bounce off to next, making Long Shots much easier to execute, while Jeffrey throws a bowling ball which rolls through the pegs, destroying a whole path in its wake. The powers are fun to use, and since there are always only two green pegs per level, you never feel like you're overusing them.
Each level also presents a trio of secondary challenges, one of which is always to clear the board of all pegs, while others ask you to get a certain number of points in one shot or to finish a level with a high enough score. These challenges are often pretty tough, and certainly add to the game's overall replay value.
Then there are the insanely fun Trial Challenges. These are usualy bite-sized levels, most of the time consisting of some sort of gimmick to complete. For example, there could be a trio of half circle pegs, and you have to shoot a single ball just the right way so it rolls through all three of them in a single shot. They're not overly tough, but they do make you think a little bit, which in Peggle is very welcome.
The game does support Online Multiplayer, which has you and a bunch of friends going against each other to see who can get the most points on a single board. This is where utilizing skill shots and long shots comes in handy. However, local multiplayer is sorely lacking. My wife was pretty disappointed when I had to break the news to her that the multiplayer menu on the title screen meant online only. She was so ready to pick up our second controller and play along with me. Given its casual nature, a couch co-op where both players try to simultaneously clear all the pegs would have been awesome. Don't do it for me PopCap, do it for my wife.
Graphically, this game could easily run on mobile devices, making its next-gen debut rather disappointing. That's not to say the game isn't absolutely gorgeous. The colorful graphics combined with the delightful ascending sounds as you clear peg after peg makes for a combo that's both easy on the eyes and ears. I did find that occasionally, and for no reason really, the game's framerate would dip slightly. It makes some carefully planned shots based around moving targets a bit harder to execute.
Lastly, the game includes a rather pointless Kinect mode, where you can aim the ball with your hands and then shoot it by saying a voice command. Do yourself a favor and just play with the controller.
Despite it being a casual gamer's best friend, there is still something completely addicting about Peggle 2. Whether it's the constant attempt at amazing skills shots, the satisfying blast of Ode to Joy as you clear a level, or maybe even holding your breath as you clear the last orange peg and watch as your ball bounces around the level in slow motion, hoping it lands in the sweet 100,000 point spot for some mega extra points, Peggle 2 proves that you don't need fancy next-gen graphics, just a simple game mechanic that anyone can pick up and enjoy immediately.