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Peggle 2 (Xbox One) artwork

Peggle 2 (Xbox One) review

"Peggle 2 proves that it's still fun to fire balls at colored pegs and hope for the best."

Peggle is back and the sequel, currently available exclusively on Xbox One (but probably only for a limited time, if past events are an indicator of what we can expect in the future), is good enough that you might wonder why you were okay with it ever leaving.

The sequel unites you with a series of cheerful new companions--Bjorn, Jeffrey, Berg, Gnorman and Luna--and asks you to do the same thing you’re always supposed to do in a Peggle title: clear a bunch of colored pegs as efficiently as possible. Not a lot has changed, then, but the process is every bit as addictive and captivating as it always was and that counts for a lot.

Peggle 2 asset

You should probably begin playing with the main offering, which is the single-player campaign. Helping you toward that easy decision is the fact that (at least for now) online doesn’t seem to work as intended and the third option on the startup menu is just a “coming soon” sign.

The campaign is unlocked as you go, one stage at a time. Roughly speaking, it’s divided into six large pieces. You begin in one region, where the rather goofy looking unicorn named Bjorn walks you through the basics. Then you are introduced to new companions in the next four chapters and finally a sixth region lets you work with any of them you like to solve the most devious stages on offer. As you advance through each individual region, you’ll also sample a single trial, and all 10 of those are unlocked once you solve all 10 puzzles in each relevant location.

Standard stages are fairly basic stuff. You have your ball launcher at the top of the screen, and there’s a receptacle that glides back and forth along the opposite end. In the middle are positioned any number of possible obstacles, but mostly just a field of pegs in varying colors and formations. You need to hit every last orange peg to clear a given area, while purple pegs are worth additional points and the green ones automatically cause you to put your companion’s special skill to use. Bjorn lets you see where your next few shots will bounce first. Jeffrey lets you drop a huge boulder that breaks away a column of junk. Berg freezes everything in place, Gnorman sends out electrical waves that zap pegs to either side and Luna can fire shots that pass through blue pegs as if they don’t even exist. These abilities are neat and make it easier to clear a screen, but you’re best off not relying on them, since their availability is limited and may prevent you from earning some rewards.

Peggle 2 asset

Typically, you begin a stage with ten balls, and those can be replenished if you score enough points and make tricky enough shots. For example, you can bank a shot off a wall, hit a peg, then hope your ball rebounds and slides across a few tiles before dropping into the moving receptacle. The last part isn’t a given, but if you manage to pull it off, the ball you fired doesn’t count against your total and you can conserve it for when some tougher shots inevitably go awry. A misfired shot that hits nothing on its trip to the bottom of the screen will often also be salvaged with no penalty, though not always. Except in a few cases late in the proceedings that are downright brutal, most stages are easily enough cleared but will challenge you anyway because they all feature three optional objectives that are often quite demanding (and one of those usually requires you to clear every single peg).

There’s a lot of strategy to Peggle 2, as you can imagine, and luck also plays a hand. You can reasonably plan the first bounce or two of any shot you fire, but after that you’re at the mercy of fate and physics that are harder to anticipate. Moving pieces and bumpers complicate matters further, and the last shot is almost always the most critical one because you might snag a measly 10,000-point bonus or as much as 100,000 (unless you have capably cleared every last peg in the field, in which case the last is a given). Fortunately, there’s no timer, so you can take as long to place each shot as you have the patience for and it’s easy to make another attempt when one effort comes up short. The bright and colorful visuals and cheery classical music ensure that the experience is a relaxing one, even at its most frustrating.

Peggle 2 asset

Trial stages that you access as you progress work a bit differently than their standard counterparts. In other puzzle games from PopCap and other developers, they might be known as the Puzzle mode, because you have very specific objectives to meet and often must think outside the box. You’ll be presented with a special field and asked to make a single shot that clears every peg, for instance, or you might need to score a certain number of points. You’ll want to tackle every one of those stages eventually. Achievements are on the line, and who doesn’t love those?

It might not seem like there’s a whole lot to Peggle 2, especially since the online matches so often won’t connect and that third option on the main menu is just a placeholder. Still, 120 stages certainly provides enough content to keep you busy for hours on end and the cheery visuals and sound allow the game to serve as the perfect cure for a bad mood. It probably should be noted, though, that it’s best to steer clear if you have it in for rainbows, unicorns and chirping birds. There are a lot of them here, and they might just drive you insane…


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Staff review by Jason Venter (December 11, 2013)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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