Peggle 2

It had been almost 7 years after the initial release of Peggle, and its developer, Popcap, had been acquired by EA during that time.  Other popular franchises by the company had gone through Free-to-play iterations and re-interpretations to mixed results.  It would be fair to be a bit skeptical about what the Peggle of 2013 would look like compared to the Peggle of 2007.  Being that I haven’t bothered to pick up an Xbox One, I’d been patiently biding my time until Peggle 2 would be released on the last-gen Xbox 360.   It’s been about four days since that release now and I’ve been working to clear the game a second time.  I can say, with confidence, that Peggle 2 refines and improves the formula almost entirely across the board.

If you’re not already familiar with the premise of the game, Peggle gives you the task of firing what are essentially pin balls down into a set of pegs which the ball bounces around in, activating them.  Activating the pegs will clear them from the board.  Your primary goal is to clear all orange colored pegs from the board with a set number of balls.  In addition, green colored pegs will activate a power up that’s based on the level’s “master” – a cartoon character that gives a set of levels its own theme.  Along the way you are scoring points based on the number of pegs you hit on each shot, a multiplier, trick shots, and other strategies that allow you to return to each level and improve your skill with the game.  You’ll also be presented with optional objectives that require you to score a certain number of points, or play with restrictions (e.g. don’t use power ups.)

Peggle 2 has far fewer peggle masters to play as, five, but they are each far better designed than many of the original Peggle masters.  Peggle had relied more on the core game play experience than the design twists introduced by the masters, which many times came across as gimmicks.  Now, the masters offer powers that genuinely affect your strategy for clearing the board, or playing against opponents.  Using the powers feels less like a roll of the dice and more like a carefully calculated plan.  Additionally, each master in Peggle 2 has been given a set of animations responding to your in game actions.  They each also have their own unique set of sound effects and riffs on classical music that progress with you as you clear the board.  It all comes together wonderfully, and accomplishes everything you could ask a sequel to set out to do.

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