Peggle 2 – (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 (Review system); PopCap; EA)
Let’s just start this by saying what we’re all thinking; Peggle is the most perfectly designed game that currently exists and is the absolute peak of game design. Fuck your Dark Souls, and your Quake, and your Counterstrike, and your Minecraft and all that. Peggle is perfection. If it wasn’t perfection, why would it be so perversely and wonderfully addictive for any gamer? From mums and dads to professional FPS players, noone can resist the lure of the bouncing ball and the Ode to Joy it brings. And if they say they can, they probably just haven’t played Peggle yet. Even though there are no excuses for that when there is a free version of Steam, Origin have given it away and Blizzard have a free version too, and the original game is on just about every platform of note over the past few years. But to return to the point, Peggle 1 (and Nights, the expansion to the game) is an incredibly satisfying, incredibly well balanced and addictive game that straddles this perfect line between logical puzzle game and chaos theory. The game’s success can be attributed to the fact that that line straddling leaves it a fantastic place as a high score game; its an easy-to-learn, hard-to-master game, almost the epitome of one, and the colour of the pegs is randomised constantly, either each shot or each try, meaning there’s no way you can truly pick the perfect way to beat each level for the optimum score, helping to at least keep away the appearance of the elite few trouncing the common Pegglers (thats a word now, I’ve used it and everything).
So, on to the topic of this here new Peggle game, that I’m sure everyone remembers the announcement of, when the PopCap CEO came out and was like “YEAH PEGGLE 2 BABY” and jumped on stage and made a new console generation’s giant enemy crabs. But barring that, up until May, it’d been exclusive to a console people didn’t want, and until November, it was Microsoft exclusive. And now its on PS4, so I finally got to get my hands on it. And as someone thats actually paid for Peggle on PC, and played it on DS pretty religiously too, I won’t deny I was hyped for some more Peggle. And this game kicks in pretty nicely by harkening back to some of the most memorable things about Peggle 1 like the use of Ode To Joy on the menu, and starting out with the unicorn Peggle Master guy. However, while the experience and the gameplay may remain its same tight self, the presentation has been hugely stepped up. While I appreciate it may not mean much to some people, its nice to see that PopCap have taken this opportunity with a sequel to really ramp up the presentation and aesthetics and such, as the original is fairly restrained in a style typical of pre-major-success-PopCap.
Now the game has a much more grand atmosphere to it. The graphics are all the more colourful and vibrant, the music and sound design all the more immersive, and most importantly, when you move on the main menu, it plays the intro Ode To Joy snippet note by note, which drove me to obsessively try and play the snippet perfectly in time by scrolling up and down the main menu. Which is truly the sign of addiction to a game. Even if this isn’t even a mini-mini-game, and its just me really wanting to beat a challenge I self-imposed. Also though, the different characters now each have their own classical piece for when you beat the level, meaning that you now get more of a variety of tunes to go with your varied characters and environments and all the rest. All in all, its nice to see PopCap really push the polish like that.
There are also new characters, to further prove that PopCap weren’t just sitting around on their butts the whole time this game was being made. Barring Mr Unicorn himself, the other 5 base game characters are all new, and their powers are at least slightly different from those of the original game’s cast. Each character now gets 10 levels, rather than 5 as it was in Peggle 1, to strut their stuff and convince you they play well, and from there, there are also 10 challenge levels for each set (though you finish the first one as a kind of interlude in the main 10 levels). All the main levels also have a set of 3 optional objectives to go with the basic “Hit all the oranges within your 10 shots” goal. Its a lot of content and its nice to have more focus put on having challenge levels within the game, as I believe the original game had them but buried them away until you’d slogged through the ‘story’ mode.
However though, there has been some ‘stereotypical internet complaint version of EA’ slipped into this game, as there are now DLC unlocks for bonus characters, who get the same amount of levels and such as the main game’s characters. But honestly, as they’re only £1.69, i.e. less than two single songs on Rock Band, I’m not really going to complain; for the content you get back, and the fact that having more characters is not really a necessary feature of the game, that cost is pretty solid. Especially if you consider something like Peggle Nights was a full price expansion to the original game and only gave you one more character. So as I said, cost is pretty solid, nothing much to complain about on that one for me.
So yeah, Peggle 2 is plenty worthy of being the sequel to the original game. Its not a necessary upgrade or anything, as you’d expect with the world of casual puzzle games from PopCap, but it is more than worth it if you’ve played the original to death and want something more from the series (and you have a console that its on). More Peggle is nothing to stick the nose up at. Now if only EA would get on getting this onto the PC, so I’d have more reason to boot up Origin regularly.
Joe Trail is the editor-in-chief of Don’t Be A Pixel. Mostly because he says he is, not because he has other writers to edit over. But such is the life of a busy editor-in-chief, obviously. He’s also an avid writer for the site. Of course.