Peggle 2 Sylvain Dubrofsky and Paul Acevedo
Sylvain Dubrofsky of PopCap Games and Windows Phone Central's Paul Acevedo

Microsoft’s Xbox One console is in stores now and doing very well; we even gave it a highly detailed review last week. Early adopters have more than twenty games to choose from, most of which are actually quite good. We’ll be reviewing more of those titles very soon, but in the meantime let’s look ahead at the next great Xbox game to go on sale: Peggle 2!

PopCap’s Peggle 2 is one of the upcoming Xbox One titles we played during our visit to Electronic Arts headquarters just before Thanksgiving. If you’ve ever played the original Peggle on Xbox 360, PC, DS, or phones (sadly it never arrived on Windows Phone), you should know why we’re excited for the sequel. Peggle 2 launches as a timed exclusive on Xbox One this Monday as an $11.99 download.

Head past the break for our video interview and hands-on footage of Peggle 2 in action!

Taking down the pegs

Peggle is a deceptively simple game. Each level consists of an assortment of colored pegs and bricks for players to destroy by firing balls at them. Blue pegs just give points, purple pegs add to your score multiplier, green pegs activate your character’s special power, and all orange pegs (they look red) must be cleared to finish the level.

Players have ten balls with which to take down all those pegs. You aim and fire the ball from a launcher at the top center of the screen. Once it hits a peg, the ball bounces around realistically, hopefully striking other pegs before it falls off the bottom of the screen. Hit enough pegs in one shot, or get the ball to land in the moving bucket at the bottom, and you’ll earn a free ball instead of depleting your supply. These mechanics combine skillful aiming and reflection judging (much like pool) with a fun element of chance.

Improvements galore

The original Peggle was always designed for 4:3 monitors, so even the great XBLA version didn’t take advantage of its widescreen presentation. The new game runs at a native 1080P resolution and really benefits from the wider presentation. The playable Peggle Masters occupy the left side of the screen, where they react to gameplay and animated like real cartoon characters. The backgrounds themselves are lush and filled with parallax scrolling. Everything has so much more life than before.

This sequel allows players to select between five Peggle Masters, including the returning unicorn Bjorn and four new ones. Bjorn still has his advanced aiming ability that provides a detailed guideline while aiming. The new masters have more complex and creative abilities. Luna the ghost girl, for instance can fire shots that pass through blue pegs in order to reach the orange pegs behind them. Berg the yeti’s special shots cause pegs to move around and bump into each other, knocking out whatever they hit.

Peggle 2 for Xbox One

Peggle 2 plays just like the first game, but its campaign mode works a little differently now. Each Peggle Master still has his or her own set of 10 levels to play through. After clearing a set, these levels can be revisited in any order with the Master of your choice.

Standard levels have three optional objectives to go after, such as clearing all pegs or making specific types of shots. Every master also offers 10 Trial levels with pass-or-fail objectives. Complete the Trail mode or complete enough optional challenges and you’ll unlock new outfits for the Peggle Masters.

The online multiplayer mode first introduced in the Xbox 360 version makes a return as well. We haven’t tested it yet but playing Peggle with friends can never be a bad thing.

Almost here!

Peggle 2 for Xbox One

Peggle 2 first appeared on PCs in 2007, so this sequel has been a long time in coming. Xbox One players will be able to play it first, just like the upcoming Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare. Both are timed exclusives and welcome additions to the Xbox One lineup. You might not buy a powerful new console just to play a small-scale game like Peggle 2, but you’ll definitely be missing out if you don’t add this one to your collection.

Peggle 2 arrives on Monday, December 9th. It will cost $11.99. Grab it from the Games Store on your console or once it becomes available. We’ll have a full review soon!