I still remember the great days of Peggle, when I was introduced to it in my first year of uni. We all huddled around a friends laptop, competing between for hours laughing and cringing at insane luck and skillshots. Peggle was fantastic, so much so that I managed to get my whole family and a lot of friends hooked on it upon my return to Banbury. I downloaded the game on 5 different platforms, with it still to this day being the only game on my iPod video, a huge achievement for any game I might add (seriously, that device was NOT made for playing games).
When I heard that Peggle was finally getting a sequel, I was overwhelmed, until I read that it was going to be exclusive to Xbox One that is. It sucked, here was a game I would have willingly given EA/Popcap the full amount they were asking, and they put it out on the worst platform available this generation. Needless to say, I waited, until eventually I caved in, got an Xbox One, and picked up Peggle 2 in the Christmas sale for £3.99. Was the wait worth it? For the most part yes, but for most players Peggle 2 is not a guaranteed buy.
Not much has changed in terms of the mechanics of Peggle 2 from Peggle, with you merely having to fire a ball at a bunch of pegs on the stage, clearing all the orange ones whilst trying to score as high of a score as possible. Green pegs still activate characters abilities, and purple pegs still cause a point bonus. Stages are familiar to Peggle, with some outrightly copy+pasted into 2 without a second thought, making you wonder what took the game so long to produce. So far not so good.
Where Peggle 2 does innovate and deviate though is in it’s characters and their abilities, which my oh my are they different and unique enough to experiment with and have fun all over again. First up on the new characters list is Jeffrey the troll, a mighty beast at the left side of the screen who’s special ability grants the player a huge boulder as a ball, smashing through anything it touches. This may sound similar to the dragon in the previous game, but differentiates hugely in the way that this boulder “stops” at the first peg it hits and plummets down, not carrying on it’s trajectory you planned originally.
Next up is Berg the Yeti, a character that makes the whole stage slippy, causing pegs you hit to glide along and hit/activate other pegs on the stage. Nifty on stages with lots of pegs, but not great on stages with straight blue pegs due to their inability to move. Gnorman the robot is next, with his power granting the player a electric ball that activates pegs around whatever peg was hit, possibly one of the best abilities in the game by far. Gnorman is easily my go to character for most stages, ensuring I can hit as many pegs as possible during my green ability turns.
Finally, there’s Luna, a zombie skeleton that has the ability to turn return all pegs back to the stage, whilst making all blue pegs on the stage completely invisible, highlighting only the orange pegs. Your balls are then able to travel freely to the orange pegs, whilst simultaneously destroying any blues in it’s path. It sounds like a strange power at first, but once you complete Luna’s trail, which has you using her ability on the final orange on the stage, you can see it’s potential: I managed to get 750k points easily using this powerup.
Weirdly, if I was now writing about the original Peggle, I’d continue listing the characters available to play with in Peggle 2. Problem is, that is all of them. 5 Characters in a sequel compared to 10 in the original is insane. Most products/sequels in the world work off the basis that you must offer your customer more than what you gave them before, to show them what they’re missing and give them better value. Not in EA’s wonderland. You can add another 2 characters to these measley few, but ones the squirrel from Peggle 1, whose ability is the multiball powerup, and the others a butterfly that gives you 5 points boost pegs to hit on the stage. Both of these characters are DLC, and each costs £1.59, which although isn’t an expensive proposition, is certainly annoying considering they could have been included in the base game in the first place.
So what is available in terms of stages? Well this is where EA/Popcap have been cleaver, with 10 normal stages available per character, 10 trial stages per character and finally 20 stages for the master levels, making a total of 120. The normal stages are made even more replayable with 3 optional objectives to be done on each level, ensuring players come back for more even after completion of the main story. There’s a lot to be done it can be said then, but I’m not sure if I really will complete all side objectives. The stages just weren’t as memorable as Peggle’s; I’d be hard pressed to really remember any should you ask me, making for a boring experience throughout most of the campaign. Trial stages lighten things up a bit, giving you very strict instructions on how to beat said trial, whilst also pushing you to your limits in regards to characters abilities. They’re nifty, but short lived due to how few of them there actually are.
Given the limited about of content EA and Popcap have actually pushed into Peggle 2, is it worth your hard earned cash? Get it in a sale and I’d say yes, Peggle 2 can provide hours of entertainment at a great price with countless hours of replayability thanks to it’s trials and optional objectives. Get it at full price? Nope, don’t give EA or Popcap the benefit of paying more for a game that technically contains less. Most players are bound to find something they like in Peggle 2, but given the limited scope of content here, it’s harder than ever before to find that perfect character/stage combination, a frustrating endeavour for any player.