Peggle is videogaming’s equivalent to swishing a behind-the-back, full court basketball hail mary. The luck involved is greater than skill. But, there is no question of satisfaction. Look at the shock on the face of someone who lands such a trick shot.
The same is true of Peggle, where balls are dropped from the top of the screen with the hopes of plinking a few orange pegs and sinking said ball in a container panning across the bottom. You cannot learn Peggle’s physics; you guesstimate much like throwing a basketball full court. Win here, and explosive classical music blares to the rhythms of fireworks and rainbows, visual and aural approximation of a luck-driven release of endorphins.
PopCap’s soiree of puzzle titles have proven limited in scope, bursting their casual seams with impenetrable genius if ultimately limited future functionality. When PopCap manipulates their basic formula, the games crumble from their identifying features. While Bejeweled offers up pretty sliding shapes, titles such as Zuma and yes, Peggle 2, remain dominated by a shooting ball.
Thus, only subtle changes are instituted for this sequel. An invite goes out for fresh, distinctively powered Peggle masters. Four answer the call, with one (Bjorn the Unicorn) being a returning veteran. We have a troll drunk on grog, a jaw dropping Yeti, vintage (and electrified) marching doll, and adorably characterized zombie girl. Somehow, PopCap has turned the idea of a child in the after life into a pleasantry.
One character slides pegs into each other; the next shocks them into submission; one more will crumble them with rocks; and, with finality, the fourth enters an alternate realm and makes blue pegs transparent. The goal is eliminating orange pegs and securing high scores, although without leaderboards, the latter is ultimately useless. Secondary challenges ask players to use specific characters, reach certain score thresholds, or remove every peg. It is enough reason to revisit, along with specialized Trial levels – brief one-offs with tightly controlled goals.
If this is all feels thin (five characters plus a bonus level and 10 stages in total for each character), it is. Peggle carried fewer stages overall but crafted eight Masters for strategic variety… well, almost “strategic” variety.
The inclusion of a shopping cart on the home menu is especially dubious. As a current Xbox One exclusive, online multiplayer functionality is thin. Only versus with three others concurrently is available. Local battles and one-on-one is an upcoming (and free) stepping stone.
Minimalist character rosters and deficient multiplayer spaces scream narrower development amidst cramped consumer quarters. Why develop to full strength when this customer base is still scrawny? By the time Peggle 2 reaches critical mass of mobile and toasters, this will certainly be richer in volume.
Until then, magical words such as “splendiferous” suit Peggle 2, a genuinely chill retread of popularized pachinko. PopCap’s affectionate touches splash Peggle Masters with deliriously adorable animations. They grow worried as games near an end, celebrate fantastical shots, and grow continually shocked as high scores add digits. Backgrounds splurge on secondary faces, particularly a pair of bleating goats who obnoxiously taunt errant shots. It is a frisky and cute overload.
Thus, you cannot hate Peggle 2. That would be like hating kittens who are playing with babies in a field of angelic Tulips at full bloom – all under a rainbow. People can dissect intentions under the auspicious banner of publisher EA or draw conclusions about held back content for the sake of DLC. This review just did. But: Kittens. Rainbows. Babies. Flowers. It is all so beautiful. Enjoy the zen.
Peggle 2 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.