I had a bit of cognitive whiplash when I saw Peggle 2 this afternoon. Its predecessor is a game that’s everywhere. Your mum or even grandmother probably plays it, or something heavily inspired by it. The browser version of the first Peggle is what helped its viral spread but there I was playing it on an Xbox One development unit.
From a gameplay perspective, Peggle 2 isn’t on the next-gen vanguard. The game plays pretty much the same as it has before: players shoot balls at a board of coloured pegs — some of which have special effects like revealing bounce trajectories — with the aim of clearing the board. But Peggle is coming out on Xbox One first and the widescreen version, which I was told wouldn’t work on a phone, allows for some presentational differences from its Peggle predecessors.
The new art style looks more like hand-drawn cartoons and the Peggle Master characters will show off contextual animations on the left side of the screen when you pull off awesome or terrible feats. The sound design felt more expansive with the bleeps and bloops of the gameplay offering unique results for different impacts and scenarios. Down to your last ball with a daunting set of remainders on the board? A taut crescendo swells behind you. Not great for the nerves but a welcome change nonetheless.
I played with three Master characters this afternoon — Bjorn, Berg and Luna — out of five will be available at launch. As it has in the past, Bjorn the unicorn’s Master ability let me see the first three bounce my shot would take. Loveable Yeti Berg’s Deep Freeze ability froze the board and made the clusters of pegs more brittle and reactive so that pegs would slide with the right impact. Creepy-cute ghoul girl Luna had the most interesting power, which turned blue pegs in to ghost pegs. You could shoot right through them and aim at the important orange targets but would still earn points for passing through the physical space where the blue pegs would be.
The Popcap representatives on hand said that Peggle has a huge Xbox 360 player base but added that there aren’t plans for cross-platform play for Peggle 2. Your grandmother probably won’t buy an Xbox One just for Peggle 2 but if Microsoft’s next-gen console happens to be in the house, you might be fighting her for time on it.