It's been a while since we've seen an addition to the Peggle franchise.
The original game easily won its way into our game collection with its crazy ball physics, charming Masters and challenging levels. Its expansion, Nights, continued to buck the trend with even more Peggle-y goodness. Now, at long last, we have the sequel, Peggle 2, which continues the status quo of the original in terms of prolonged entertainment. It's hardly a perfect effort, but consider this another notch in PopCap Games' well-made belt.
The game is similar to the original: You're given a specific set of balls in which to clear away orange pegs on a board. Some are easy to get to, while others require a bit of skill to get around blue pegs that are in the way. You can bounce off walls, other pegs, bumpers and additional obstacles to get at them, although you'll need to be a true master of physics to get the hang of your shots.
Like the original, you're not alone. Peggle 2 provides five Masters to help you with power-ups. Bjorn the unicorn is always a trip, but our personal new favorite is Jeff, a Big Lebowski-esque "chill" troll who specializes with big bowling ball-like boulders. The runner-up is Berg, a yeti with a great freezing power — and a distinct lack of pants.
While more returning Masters from the first game would've been welcome, these new guys fit right in to the Peggle mantra — and their powers are truly useful for some of the more difficult levels from the game.
Peggle's gameplay continues to be quite addictive with the sequel. You'll still master shots and power-ups with ease, while thinking your way through difficult — if not nearly impossible — scenarios. Shooting for a high score continues to be a prominent part of the game, though online leaderboards should've been included. We're hoping they'll return as part of an update for the game.
You also can fine-tune your shots using the Xbox One's shoulder buttons, an ideal tactic when you want them to go off just right. This can be something that requires a bit of patience, but it pays off when you nail that bonus shot and get a score multiplier and a free ball in the process. You'll get skilled in no time.
Along with a decent single player campaign, Peggle 2 offers multiplayer. It's nothing deep — and for some strange reason, there's no local option — but it's fun working with your Xbox Live friends to get the best score possible. It's worth a shot if you have friends who bought the game alongside you.
The visuals don't exactly take advantage of Xbox One's processing power, but they are charming in their own way. The Masters show off exuberant personality galore (especially Jeff, just sitting there with a glass of something in his hand), and the puzzles are well-designed, giving you enough challenge to figure things out. The music is equally charming, especially the groovy rendition of The William Tell Overture.
One thing, though — I could've done without all the recording of game clips. It's great when you can record your own and share it, obviously, but Peggle 2 can go overboard at times when it comes to what it considers a highlight. There should've been an option to tone this down a bit, to the point that you're controlling all the clips — not the game. Still, it's not bad enough to ruin the flow of the game.
If you're expecting a redefining puzzle experience for the Xbox One, Peggle 2 isn't necessarily it. However, it continues the fun trend that made the first game and Nights work so well, and the new Masters and puzzles will keep you busy for hours. This is a no-brainer — this batch of Ultra Fever is well worth catching.
VIDEO GAME REVIEW
Platform: Xbox One
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: PopCap Games
ESRB rating: E