UPDATE: This review has been updated with an additional section to deliver impressions of the belated Xbox 360 release.
UPDATE 2: We have added another additional section to our Peggle 2 review to address the belated PlayStation 4 edition of the game.
Peggle 2 is the best reason to own an Xbox One at this point.
Perhaps that claim may seem strange to some. The game is not all that impressive from a technical standpoint. It’s not necessarily geared towards avid gamers. Its cutesy, colourful presentation would not likely attract the adult audience that Xbox One appears to be primarily trying to sell itself to during the launch window either.
To the rest of you however, you have no doubt played the original Peggle on one of the myriad devices it’s available on. The second runaway sensation of developer, PopCap Games to follow Bejeweled, Peggle is a cross-breed of pachinko and pinball for those unfamiliar, simply having players launch a limited amount of balls at coloured pegs for high scores. It doesn’t sound like much, but there are a considerable count of players, both casual and hardcore alike, who have sunk more hours into Peggle than even Call of Duty and most MMO’s.
It’s quite difficult to put down, you might say.
Despite the original Peggle and its expansion, Peggle Nights releasing across computers, mobile devices and dedicated gaming platforms of almost all varieties, Peggle 2 is instead exclusive to Xbox One’s digital marketplace, at this point anyway. PopCap has claimed that the game will eventually come to more platforms, but currently, the only way to access it is by investing in Microsoft’s new next-gen console. No potential platforms have yet been divulged either, so Xbox One objectors may be waiting a while for other versions.
If you have invested in an Xbox One already however, then Peggle 2 is the one exclusive that absolutely must be bought and played without question. It’s addictive, it’s fun, and it’s so loaded with charm and whimsy that it’s virtually impossible to dislike, regardless of what kind of player you are!
Peggle 2 looks nice and colourful, exploding with polish even in contrast to its predecessor. The animated 2D graphics and environments have noticeable added detail over the original Peggle, and the upbeat animations seem noticeably smoother as well. There’s also added flash given to level-ending Fever moments, great shots that clear out large doses of pegs, and of course the powers of the Peggle Masters that you’ll be enlisting in your quest to clear boards.
While Peggle 2 only barely looks like a bump from Xbox 360-tier graphics, the game at least runs smoothly and carries with it plenty of production value. The excitable graphics will entertain children quite effortlessly, and even adults will feel swells of candy-coated, happy emotion when they see the game celebrate their successes with lots of appealing fireworks displays.
Even the menus are a joy to look at in Peggle 2. Everything is sunny and smiling, and large, cute icons denote all of your important options, making them easy to navigate even for a young child. The way that your options zip and shift around with comic energy also quickly gets you in the mood to play, and will probably make you chuckle the first time you see everything as well!
It’s nothing that will floor you as you play, but PopCap has clearly put a lot of dedication and detail into creating such cheerful scenery and visual effects. You might say then that Peggle 2 is a casual game with a core, triple-A game’s production values, even if it’s keeping its technical foundations simple.
In any case, you certainly can’t argue with the sublime presentation of a game that instantly puts you in a good mood just by looking at it!
The audio is as much a delight as the visuals, and PopCap has put just as much care into making a game that amuses with its sounds as much as its graphics.
Right when you start the game, you’ll notice that a cute chiming rendition of the title music plays as you move between options with the D-Pad. This is very cute, and even adults will have fun just playing with the menus to hear these chiming tunes. Yes, even just playing with the menus is a joy in Peggle 2!
Beyond that, most of the music is understated, but still catchy, changing depending on which Peggle Master you have selected, at least during the main gameplay. When you clear all of the orange pegs on a board to complete it, or perhaps every peg in general for the various bonus objectives in each challenge, the Ode to Joy will still play just as with the original… But only when you’re using Bjorn the Unicorn this time, who is also the only Peggle Master properly returning from the original game.
Fortunately, there are other fun, energetic and famous orchestrations for the other Peggle Masters when you finish their challenges, which are great surprises to discover as you proceed through and complete the main boards.
The sound effects remain as whimsical as ever, adding all sorts of life and charm to what could otherwise be a mundane peg-clearing puzzler in lesser hands. Part of why players will be so engaged in clearing pegs is because the game leaps off of the screen with its exclamatory audio cues and motivations. It’s a video game as encouraging as they come, even when you don’t succeed.
There isn’t any voice acting in the game, though Peggle Masters will sometimes chime in and give hyperbolic reactions to your various shots, particularly the ones where you clear a massive amount of pegs and build both a massive multiplier and score. Each Peggle Master may not speak, but they still have a lot of character and likeability, even if all but Bjorn are entirely new faces.
The spirit of the original game’s audio is intact in the sequel, but it’s expanded upon and given even more enjoyable range, making for a thoroughly enchanting game that feels like it’s somehow bursting with even more life and character than before!
The foundation of Peggle 2 is just as simple as before. You try to clear out all of the orange pegs on a board with a limited supply of balls that you fire from a cannon, netting bonus points and rewards for clearing every single peg without losing all of your balls. It’s one of the most simplistic video game ideas you could imagine, especially since you can still play the entire game simply by using the left thumbstick and the A Button, but it still works so incredibly well!
If you have played the first game, you’ll notice that Peggle 2 wisely doesn’t fix what isn’t broken, but it does make some rebalances and tweaks here and there. There’s definitely more elasticity in your balls for example, which more eagerly bounce and leap around even after merely grazing a wall or peg. It makes it more difficult to position slides and whatnot, but it also prevents your ball from routinely getting stuck because it won’t bounce out of even a small rut.
The other noticeable difference is that Peggle 2 seems less generous with its coin flips if you sink a ball without touching any pegs. The original game was more inclined to forgive this kind of thing, but it seems that the sequel is a bit more impartial. On the bright side however, the sequel seems a bit more generous with doling out free balls for earning smaller increments of points with particularly good shots.
All things considered however, it’s still Peggle, exactly as you remember it! The objectives and the way you play the game are pretty well entirely unchanged, with only the Peggle Masters being different. This gives you new abilities with which to clear out pegs when you hit green pegs to trigger Peggle Master Powers, and the new abilities are just as useful and memorable as those in the first game.
Bjorn and his Super Guide power that lets you foresee the first couple of angles of a shot are the same, though as you proceed through the game, you’ll discover new Peggle Masters that can activate simultaneous pegs with chain lightning, render blue pegs intangible, crash through any pegs with a huge boulder, and cause pegs you hit to slide around like curling stones, touching and clearing other pegs they come in contact with. They’re all useful abilities, though it is a shame that Peggle 2’s Peggle Master selection is so much more limited, and that it doesn’t include the original game’s especially useful powers.
Still, this allows the sequel to present an entirely new way to play the game without just falling back on old tricks, also not making newcomers feel alienated for not having played the original game, making this the best possible design direction. The new abilities remain fun to use, and while some of the zanier level design styles from the original have been toned down in the sequel, it’s still highly enjoyable to chase scores and complete optional challenges as you continually revisit the game.
Peggle 2 also contains a Trial Mode, with its various challenges unlocked as you complete the main boards. Trial Mode demands that you accomplish a certain task like clearing specialized pegs with very limited balls, netting certain scores, or perhaps achieving certain special shots like slides and long bounces. Some especially devilish trials even task you with clearing pegs while getting under a certain score, which is a cool juxtaposition of the kind of objectives you’d normally encounter when playing Peggle.
Given that Peggle 2 continues to execute such an otherwise simple idea so incredibly well, it’s hard to find things that are outwardly wrong with the game. It is currently missing the two-player Duel Mode, granted, with multiplayer functionality currently limited to online four-player Peg Party matches, with no local play option either. PopCap has promised to patch in Duel Mode at a later point, though there’s no timetable for this.
Still, even if it’s a temporary problem, the shallow and unrewarding multiplayer options in Peggle 2 at present will no doubt disappoint especially social and/or competitive fans. The same is true of Peggle 2’s inexplicable lack of leaderboards, but this is another thing that may eventually be patched in later. Hopefully.
A more pressing issue however is the game’s annoying tendency to record GameDVR clips when you don’t tell it to. Peggle 2 automatically tries to save footage of especially good shots and objective completion, but oftentimes, it will record multiple clips of shots that aren’t even a big deal, on top of recording certain trials that are based on scores, even if you fail, every time. This will constantly force players to go into Upload Studio and clean out these junk clips, and there’s just no reason for this.
Xbox One games should never forcibly save automatically recorded footage, especially when the console’s hard drive seems to fill up before its 500GB capacity in many cases. PS4 games don’t do it, and Xbox One games shouldn’t do it!
Beyond that nuisance however, Peggle 2 plays pretty well perfectly. It’s an outstanding crowd-pleaser with score-chasing gameplay that is equally appealing to both casual and hardcore gamers, and even to young children for that matter. Once PopCap starts patching in the promised multiplayer features, and hopefully patches out the GameDVR abuse, it will even rival the original as one of the best gameplay formulas that PopCap has ever delivered to date!
Peggle 2 is fundamentally the exact same game on Xbox 360 as it is on Xbox One. The only real difference is that the Gamerscore value has been reduced to 400 Gamerpoints instead of 1,000, and GameDVR functionality has obviously been removed. In the latter case, this is almost a relief, as it means that the Xbox Live Arcade version of Peggle 2 isn’t constantly saving play clips that you don’t want it to, like the Xbox One version has a bad habit of doing.
There is predictably a noticeable downgrade in graphical resolution on Xbox 360 compared to the Xbox One version, though it’s not a particularly large one. The Xbox 360 version is a bit less bright and detailed, but when it comes down to it, it mostly looks the same.
If you have yet to upgrade to Microsoft’s next-gen console, and are still interested in owning Peggle 2 in the meantime, the Xbox 360 version is still very much worth your money. The Xbox One flourishes aren’t really worth holding out for, even with that version having a larger Gamerscore to amass.
Once again, there aren’t any real changes to Peggle 2 in its debut on a PlayStation platform. The PS4 version is pretty well completely identical to its Xbox One counterpart in every conceivable way, with the main difference being trophies that are substituted for achievements, and the aggressive automated GameDVR clip saving on Xbox One obviously no longer being present.
The only real unique addition to the PS4 version is some use of the Dual Shock 4’s Light Bar. The Light Bar will change colours every time you hit a peg, which is kind of neat, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly. At the very least though, it does add to the game’s charm in a way that you wouldn’t experience on Xbox platforms.
The trophies are reasonably valuable, with most of them being Silver Trophies, but there’s really nothing else to say about the PS4 version, which simply exists to give PlayStation gamers a means to enjoy the game. If you’re interested in Peggle 2, you get the same charming and highly addictive experience that you would get on the Xbox platforms, with no compromises.
Peggle 2 is another casual-friendly masterpiece from PopCap, effortlessly standing with the original, even in its currently incomplete state, and presenting some of the most approachable and rewarding fun that is currently offered on Xbox One at this point! No matter what kind of player you are, it’s bound to be another addiction that will hook you for untold amounts of hours as you try to perfect your shots and boost your scores.
Sure, there’s currently no Xbox Live leaderboard, but at the very least, you should have plenty of GameDVR clips that you can upload to show off your feats, whether you want to or not!
In fact, it’s almost disappointing that Peggle 2 is currently limited to an expensive and just-released next-gen console that has nowhere near the install base of most other gaming platforms at this point. It will no doubt migrate to other platforms eventually, as PopCap and EA have promised, but for now, it’s unfortunate that the game is limited to die-hard Xbox enthusiasts who are willing to pay $500 for an Xbox One at launch. Peggle 2 demands to be shared with everyone, and it deserves to be enjoyed by everyone.
Just like what Resogun achieved on the competing PS4, Peggle 2 defies its retail cousins to be the best launch window game on the Xbox One, period, even being a digital download game. This goes to show how much digital download games have become a crucial part of our industry, especially when you can download Peggle 2 for a measly $12, versus the $60 you would potentially spend for so many weaker retail offerings to launch with the console. The sequel’s package is currently a bit smaller than the original, but it will no doubt expand with new features and play modes in time, especially when it inevitably migrates beyond Xbox One.
It doesn’t matter who you are, or what kind of gamer you think you are. If you own an Xbox One, you need Peggle 2.
- Addictive score-chasing
- New Peggle Masters
- Packed with charm
- Temporarily missing features
- Involuntarily spams GameDVR (on Xbox One)