GOT YOU PEGGED
Peggle 2’ s multiplayer is as resistant to change as its main game: currently, the only mode available is Peg Party, as seen in the original’s 360 version. Up to four players play on the same board, and by holding Y you can scroll through a list of windows to view moves in realtime. There are no free balls on offer, and you’re best off building up your multiplier for a few turns before activating your Master’s special move. It’s the same as ever, then, but there’s one next-gen feature: you can carry on playing singleplayer while Xbox One searches for a match in the background. you aim straight for hard-to-reach oranges. She will be the leaderboard-focused player’s Master of choice; you still get points for every blue peg your ball passes through, and they all respawn next turn.
Each Master hosts a world comprised of ten stages – making for a comparable offering to the original’s 55 – plus there’s a sixth world in which you get to take your pick. Each world also contains a set of ten Trials, and these are more specific and skill-based than the regular stages, where success so often comes more by luck than judgement. Some Trials task you with pulling off extravagant skill shots, such as using Gnorman’s Uber Volt to hit ten separate pegs – a move marvellously dubbed as Major Discharge. Others ask that you clear a level of pegs with a single ball. You might need to finish the level with a high score or, more onerously, a low one. Some give you infinite use of a Master’s superpower, or maybe none at all. They’re a delightful change of pace: you know there’s a solution, that what it tells you to do is possible, and as such they require a lot more thought than the fire-and-forget nature of traditional Peggle. There’s an element of skill involved at all times, of course, though it rarely extends beyond the trajectory of a ball’s first bounce. Thereafter, you’re in the hands of the Peggle gods. While it’s tempting to take the credit for a shot that cleared half the screen, scored 100,000 points and bounced off the lip of the bucket that patrols the bottom of the screen, off a wall and back in for a free ball, you know you had little to do with it.
But Peggle’s secret is the way it makes you feel about these successes – and it’s here that this most feels like a true sequel. Clear out a level and the resulting Ultra Extreme Fever is a bigger festival of light and colour than ever, and Xbox One’s Game DVR popup serves as an extra pat on the back. The accompanying crescendo is no longer limited to Ode To Joy either – each Master has their own piece of classical music. Meters fill and refill with cascades of colour. Bonuses send your score rocketing while the William Tell Overture builds to a thrilling climax. It’s like winning a fruit machine jackpot on stage at the Last Night Of The Proms.
In the first game, this dopamine rush helped you overlook the rather obvious role played by lady luck. Here, its remit has expanded, also helping you get over that spartan Master select screen, ensuring you forgive the rather sparse single-mode multiplayer component, and making you forget that the new Masters’ powers have a whiff of gimmickry about them. Peggle 2, then, is still Peggle, but there’s little to justify the seven-year wait or its spot in Xbox One’s launch window. And while it may not ask you to shell out 69p for turns, it’s seemingly only a matter of time before you’re invited to pay for modes and Masters that in the past would have been part of the package from day one.