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Peggle 2 REVIEW – Ode to Joy, Missing a Few Notes

by Eric Frederiksen | December 14, 2013December 14, 2013 8:00 am PDT

Some say the Xbox One launched on Nov. 22 with Forza Motorsport 5, and that a certain game was delayed at the last minute. We know the truth, though; the Xbox One launched on Dec. 9 when Peggle 2 was added to the Xbox Live Marketplace…

…maybe.

So, does Peggle 2 live up to the addictive, overwhelming joy of the original? Will your eyes roll back into your head as you hit the last peg and enter Ultra Extreme Fever mode?

Yes, it does, and they absolutely will. Peggle 2 is awesome. But it’s not perfect.

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Missed a Few Pegs

Like Forza Motorsport 5 and the Xbox One that both games play on, Peggle 2 feels a bit unfinished. What’s here is more polished than ever before, but at the expensive of the sheer amount of content in the original and its follow up, Peggle Nights.

There are four new Peggle Masters. When I heard this, I thought it was in addition to the old ones, but no, there are only four – plus Bjorn the Unicorn – as opposed to the ten of the original.

The Masters that are in the game, thankfully, are better than ever in just about every way. Each Master is given a short introductory animation, their own theme and fever music, and even alternate costumes to unlock in addition to the unique powers they possess.

And the animation and music really are remarkably good and it adds a lot to the game. They make each character memorable and fun for more reasons than just their powers. They’re funny and, dare I say it, cute. The music that accompanies each is catchy and memorable, jazzing up tunes like The Hall of the Mountain King.

On the technical side of things, Joey mentioned several times that he noticed a really big drop in framerate during play. Unforgivable? No. Just unexpected for a game like Peggle 2 on a next-gen system like the Xbox One.

Peggle Fever: 99.5°F

The powers, though, are what really matter, and they’re all fun to play with and have their own strategies. One power, for example, is a bit of a long-play; until you get the hang of it, it seems worthless, and it’s really only at the end of the round that it generates points. The game becomes about avoiding the green pegs for as long as possible to get the biggest payout, adding a fun wrinkle to the experience.

Racking up big scores is satisfyingly difficult, and you get a memento to go with it: Peggle 2 records and saves any impressive scores you make automatically so that you can share them with your friends. If you’re having a particularly good run, that ‘clip recorded’ notice comes up so often that it feels like the entire game is being recorded.

Discovering how those different powers play and look, though, is one of the parts that really makes Peggle feel like magic, and having only four new masters to unlock and learn is a big disappointment.

This becomes especially apparent once you head over to multiplayer. It’s fun, there’s no question there, but when you and your friend(s) set your character select to random and end up on the same character more often than not, it’s hard to miss. My biggest worry is that the other Masters will come in the form of paid DLC later on, as is so often becoming the trend. With how much extra work goes into each Master, it’s a pretty easy math problem, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

And there’s only one multiplayer mode right now. Duels is coming in a free update later on, but right now all we have is “Peg Party,” where you basically just play Peggle and then watch your scores go up. As disappointing as the multiplayer is, one of the best moments is seeing the idiotic face Bjorn makes when he wins a round. As I played round after round with our own Joey Davidson, it never got old.

Buy

Even with the problems, Peggle 2 is still Peggle.

It’s missing a few modes at launch, hits odd framerate drops and comes with a smaller pile of Peggle Masters to choose from. These hits hurt the overall package, but they don’t damage what makes Peggle so genuinely fun.

Even with the problems, Peggle 2 is still Peggle.

It still capitalizes on the same feelings as Plinko, pinball, and even billiards; you know there’s geometry and physics dictating everything that’s happening and, after that first bounce, it’s out of your hands. The combination of skill and surprise is something that few other games manage to capture, and PopCap has it down perfectly here.

We purchased Peggle 2 with personal funds. We played the single player mode, a portion of the trials, and multiple rounds of multiplayer before writing this review.


Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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