I don’t think I’ve ever really given Peggle that much of my time, certainly not more than an hour or two. It is, however, one of PopCap’s hugely successful titles, and a sequel has been in huge demand for quite some time.
Of course, the heart of the game is the same. You’re presented with a screen full of pegs, with a handful of orange pegs which you need to hit with the ball, interspersed amongst the intricate and carefully laid out blue pegs. You carefully aim your shot, fire, and then watch as your ball bounces off in a fashion which you can so rarely predict, with fantastic or disastrous results.
Helping you reach those ridiculously high scores are the ability to get score multipliers from hitting purple pegs, or just building the up the Frenzy meter on the right hand side.
It also helps if you can time things just perfectly to land in the bucket which moves from side to side at the bottom of the screen. Land the ball in there, and you get an extra ball. Lovely when it comes together.
There’s now much more of a pinball influence to the game’s puzzles, too, with moving objects like flippers or floating eyeballs making your shots trickier and even less predictable.
The aim is to clear away the orange pegs with as few shots as possible whilst also clearing as many pegs, and certainly before you run out of balls, all the while with Bjorn the unicorn or one of the other Peggle Masters watching on.
These Masters all have special abilities, which have evolved somewhat from the original. Hitting the green pegs activates the ability, so that now Bjorn is able to let you see where that first bounce is going to take the ball next, for a few shots. Very useful towards the end of a level, when every ball counts, and you really want to hear Ode to Joy during the Extreme Fever.
The same can be said of Luna’s the ghost girl, a creepy little thing who hovers over her grave, and features in spookier, more difficult levels – the difficulty you choose determines the Master you play with. Her ability, called Nightshade, ghosts out all the non-orange pegs for two turns, giving you more access to the ones you really want to hit.
This one has the nice side effect of giving you the points for every ghosted peg that you pass through, whether they had already been hit or not. It gives the power a very tactical feeling, as to when and how you want to use it, and can really transform a board very quickly.
What’s really nice is how the Masters now interact with the player, with them reacting to every shot you take, and the situation you find yourself in. Luna will smile in quite a cute way, if you get a good score from one shot, whilst Bjorn will bite his lip and look nervous if you’re close to running out of balls.
Of course, it’s party time when you clear the board of orange pegs, and Hall of the Mountain King plays… Wait, didn’t I say Ode to Joy earlier? Turns out each Master has their own individual Extreme Fever music, and Luna’s is Hall of the Mountain King, perfectly fitting the graveyard setting of her levels and her character.
The music is another area which they’ve worked on, having it gradually ramp up as you head towards clearing a board, and gently ramping up the pressure.
I think that’s a good comparison for the whole game, where they’ve taken Peggle’s acclaimed and popular basis, and ever-so-carefully refined and tweaked every aspect of it. The core gameplay remains solid as ever, with subtle additions to the boards, and tweaks to the characters, how they react to the play and their powers.
It’s an evolution that should prove just addictive as the original. God help you all.
Peggle 2 is coming to Xbox One on launch day, 22nd November, with other platforms planned for somewhere down the line.