Xbox One Review: Peggle 2 hits nearly all the right pegs

One of the greatest tragedies in Windows Phone gaming is that PopCap’s original Peggle never made it onto the platform. Originating as a PC game, Peggle eventually made its way to practically every platform under the sun except for Windows Phone – including the Xbox 360.

Still, at least we know PopCap loves Xbox consoles. The long-awaited sequel Peggle 2 launched earlier this month as a timed Xbox One exclusive. The new console needs games and Peggle 2 happens to be one of the most enjoyable games around. A bit of polish got lost in the rush to launch, but the new Peggle still deserves your attention.

Detailed review with video after the break!

Take it down a peg

Peggle combines the game of Pachinko (shooting balls at pegs for points) with Pool-like aiming to create a game all unto itself. 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 (a very red orange) 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.

The more orange pegs you take out during a level, the higher the score multiplier on the right side of the screen goes. As an individual ball bounces around hitting targets, it also fills a score meter on the left. Should the shot rack up enough points before leaving the screen, you’ll earn one or more free balls for your trouble.

As players take aim and bounce a shot around the field, a bucket moves back and forth along the bottom of the screen. If your ball lands in the bucket, you’ll gain an extra ball. This often happens by chance, but really strong players can intentionally cause the ball to ricochet from a peg and into the bucket. By earning balls from points and bucket shots, players can recover from a bad situation and end up beating even the toughest levels.


In the original Peggle campaign, players progressed through 50-odd levels. Every few levels they would play as a new Peggle Master – cartoonish animal characters. After beating the game, you could play a separate Challenge Mode in which old levels received new, harder goals. A lot of people called it quits without touching Challenge Mode though, including me.

Peggle 2 creates a more cohesive experience by wrapping everything up within the new campaign. There are five sets of levels – one for each Peggle Master, now with a short story sequence between each set. Following the five main sets, players will take on a super tough sixth batch of celestial levels using the Master of their choice.

Every normal level in the campaign now has three Optional Objectives to complete. Two of those challenges will always be clearing all pegs in the level and reaching a certain Ace score. The third challenge varies by level. A good player will often complete one or more challenges on his or her first attempt, but some challenges will take many, many tries to knock out. At least you’ll earn a special outfit for the level’s Peggle Master if you finish enough of them.

New to the campaign are Peggle Trials. After the fifth level of each Master’s standard level set, you’ll always encounter a special trial level. These include such challenges as making a Super Long Shot or destroying a batch of pegs with a single ball. Once the player beats all of a Master’s standard levels, a batch of 10 trials will then unlock for that master. Beat them all to unlock a new outfit for that set’s Master, plus an Achievement.

All told, the new campaign is more interesting and filled with replay value than before. Instead of finishing it once and forgetting about whatever unlocks afterward, you’ll be more motivated to replay levels and take on Trials this time out.

Peggle Masters

The first Peggle offered 10 Peggle masters to play as, but the new game cuts the roster down to five. Bjorn the unicorn returns with his trusty but not flashy Super Guide ability. The other four masters: Jeffrey the Troll (a Big Lebowski parody), Berg the Yeti, Luna the Ghost, and Gnorman the Gnome are all-new. Each has an original special ability, with Gnorman’s proving the most useful overall.

Their new characters look great, with cartoon-quality character designs and lots of amusing animations. Opinions on how they sound will be mixed. Gnorman and Jeffrey’s voice samples get on my nerves. PopCap’s sound team usually turns in a perfect performance, and the new music and overall sound quality certainly lives up to their reputation... Just not those awful grunts that Gnorman makes.


Peggle 2 launches with a single competitive online multiplayer mode. Before anyone cries foul about the lack of local multiplayer, know that the first Peggle on PC has no multiplayer at all. PopCap added local multiplayer to the iOS version, but otherwise it has never been a core feature of the game. Peggle is all about going through the campaign and trying the various side challenges on offer. Playing against others (in versions that support it) is just a bonus.

That said, PopCap recently announced that the iOS version’s popular Duels mode will come to Peggle 2 in the near future. Duels will allow two players to compete on the same playing field either on the same console or online. Should be fun!

I wish I could tell you how good the current multiplayer mode is. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work for many players – including me. Instead of traditional matchmaking or browsing open games, Peggle 2 offers two options: Smart Match or Private Game.

Smart Match (which evolved from a similar feature in Street Fighter IV) basically makes matchmaking take place in the background while the player does other things. You can play single-player or just sit at the title screen, and before long a match will come up.

Choose to accept the match and you should be in for some delightful online Peggle action. But for whatever reason, my console never successfully joins a game. It sits there for an excruciating 90 seconds in which I can do nothing, not even cancel the matchmaking attempt. Finally, the message “Failed to Join a Game” pops up. You can see the process in our video review below. Hopefully PopCap fixes these connectivity woes when they add Duels mode.

Update: In March 2014, Peggle 2 received a multiplayer update that fixed Peg Party and added Duels mode (playable locally or online). Check out our impressions and video here.

Room for Improvement

Besides the partially broken multiplayer, Peggle 2 shows a few other rough edges as well. Colorblind mode (a standard option in the first game) is nowhere to be found. How will hamsters and horses be able to enjoy the new game? Oh, I guess colorblind people are out of luck at the moment too.

An omission that affects all of us is the lack of leaderboards. Peggle is traditionally a score-based game, with much of the replay value coming from besting not only the Ace Scores but also one’s personal best scores. Peggle 2 has no leaderboard support at all, so you can’t even see your own high scores, let alone other players’. Leaderboards are such an obvious feature, I can only assume PopCap left them out due to the launch game rush. Let’s hope they show up in the game soon.

One last annoyance: this game records clips constantly! It happens so often that it must be a bug. You can't turn off sharing within the game, either. The only way to prevent it from spamming your friends is by turning the console's video recording off entirely.


The new Peggle has 28 Achievements worth a total of 1,000 GamerScore. The only tough ones involve finishing every Trial (reasonable) and completing all 180 Optional Objectives. The latter will take many hours of attempts – I’ve spent more than an hour on a single level before. Luckily the game is crazy fun and the GamerScore rewards are so much higher than the original Xbox 360 Peggle’s.

The Optional Objective Achievements have been glitchy for some players, though reportedly they will still unlock if you keep playing enough levels. See this guide for details.

Overall Impression

Peggle 2 is exactly what most gamers want from a next-gen sequel: everything that we loved about the first game, a few structural improvements, and vastly improved graphics and sound. The new campaign does a great job of encouraging players to go after the Optional Objectives and Trials. Most importantly, the gameplay is as fun and approachable as ever.

As long as PopCap adds the missing features and gets online multiplayer working for everyone, Peggle 2 will become just as much of an enduring classic as the original. Every Xbox One owner should have it. Let’s hope this one comes to Windows Phone someday as well!

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • Wish it was in Windows phone
  • Makes me jealous of xbox users:(
  • Yeah.wish i could afford one..
  • Ps4 priced 730$ in india...and i dont think xbox will be priced less :(
  • The joke at my house is that I've got a $500 peggle machine, as I could care less about fps games. Gonna buy Ryse and DR3 today.
  • LOL
    What about Forza, then?
  • Dead Rising 3 is awesome. The free demo doesn't do it justice. It just never gets old slaughtering throngs of zombies. Ryse is also way underrated. Very cinematic.
  • *couldn't
  • I want Xbox one!
  • I have one, and I am disappointed. There's lots of room for improvement and games. Just wait and save yourself some money and frustration.
  • Could somebody explain me how the heck is this related with windows phone?
  • We started out with a nice Windows Phone connection right at the beginning of the review. But WPCentral covers all Microsoft platforms: Windows Phone, Windows 8, Xbox consoles. If you're not interested in non-WP articles, just don't read ;em.
  • Okay, thanks for your answer though :)
  • Guessing you didn't read the beginning of the review before commenting?
  • That is a rather silly thing to say. Imagine if wpcentral wrote a review of something far related to windows phone, like a router or internet service. Would you then suggest that we simply don't read it? If people were interested in reading xbox one game reviews then they should visit any of the hundreds of blogs devoted to games reviews. I would hate this website to become a Microsoft platform blog rather than focusing on windows phone. Already i purposefully read articles from other websites because i don't find wpcentral to be focusing on windows phone stuff.
  • It's silly to say that we cover all Microsoft platforms? But we do. We've been doing it for like 2 years now. There *is* such a thing as going too far beyond a site's core concept, but most of us don't believe we've overstretched our boundaries. I'm sorry you're not interested in non-WP stuff, but the quality of our WP coverage hasn't diminished as the volume of non-WP coverage increased. Our writing quality is usually better than other sites, so you get a better read here than at most other places. ~ ~
  • You're late to the party
  • Wpcentral is going down the pan :(
  • Oh BS it is, I don't know of another WP site that puts in the effort they do.
  • Thanks Mark! :)
  • I agree. I love the coverage here. Plus the lines have blurred and there's lots of convergence between WP, Xbox and Windows. You sort of have to cover all 3 in order to help convey Microsoft's vision.
  • After playing the hell out of peggle last week (thanks to the $0.99 deal last week) I can honestly say its a shame it never made it to WP.
  • I want Peggle on WP too. How about we start tweeting @popcap and @EAMobile and ask them to bring Peggle to Windows Phone with Xbox integration! #SaveXboxWP Peggle 2 looks fun, but I'm going to wait to buy it for Xbox One until they add in local multiplayer, fix the online multiplayer connection issues, fix the overzealous automatic game clip recording 'feature' (it even annoys me as a current non-Peggle 2 owner with many friends who have it because whenever I go to Upload to view friends new game clips I'm inundated by dozens upon dozens of stupid pedestrian Peggle clips), and add in leaderboards (seriously, how is that not in the game already?).
  • This will be my first Xbox one game
  • A shame about the cut demo policy. Required demos is why I own ~100 arcade games on 360. My purchasing of these games will be -significantly- less now on Xbone. I guess that'll make my wallet happy though.
  • Yeah, I hear you. Demos are a must for me to buy 98% of any game or app I buy (with the rare exception of a game that gets universally positive reviews right out of the gate). The only Xbox One game I had at launch was Killer Instinct because it came free (with one character, so like a glorified demo). I tried it out for a week or two, realized it was an awesome game, and then bought the full game. I was intrigued by a lot of the other games--Ryse, Dead Rising 3, Assassin's Creed, Forza, Battlefield, Call of Duty, etc.--but none of them had demos, so I stuck with KI (a great game, mind you). Then Capcom released a demo for DR3, I tried it out, and soon bought the full game (even though the demo is too restrictive and doesn't do the full game justice). As for Peggle 2, I suggest you play the free PC demo of the first Peggle. You'll get a pretty good feel for how the game is. Be forewarned, though, will see it's really fun and addicting game, so be prepared to drop the $12 on the Xbox One version!
  • Totally understand why you guys would like demos. But if you're interested in trying Peggle 2 out, you'll find everything you need to know by playing the demo of the first game on Xbox 360 or PC. The gameplay hasn't changed - it just got prettier and the campaign got reorganized a bit. Seriously, it's almost impossible to like the first game but dislike the second - unless perhaps you're colorblind.
  • Peggle 2 is perfect for xbox snap.  Watch Football and play Peggle 2 during commercials and half-time. That said, I would not say "vastly improved graphics " -- they are different, they have better shading, but not exactly anything that is "vastly" improved.  Different, yes, better shading, yes -- but that is about it. Overall, it is very playable and fun, but feels very unfinished.  I hope they make updates available soon
  • That's a really great point: It's one of those games you can kind of play with your attention half elsewhere, like watching a snapped TV show (especially sports, like the upcoming NFL playoffs!). Can't do that on a PS4 yo.
  • You don't find the screenshots above look vastly better than this? Peggle Xbox 360 screenshot The pegs themselves look the same, but the masters are now large and fully animated characters, the backgrounds vary by level and feature multiple layers of parallax scrolling, the UI is laid out better, and everything runs natively at 1080P. There are new and improved particle effects too. The original Peggle was never designed with HD resolutions in mind, despite starting out as a PC game.
  • Twelve bucks seems kind of steep for Peggle.
  • It will take you longer to play through all of Peggle than the duration of movie at your local megaplex. It's worth $12.
  • There's certainly more hours in peggle than there is in ryse.
  • The first game launched at $20 on PC! $12 is also just $2 more than the first game on 360, but the production values are much higher in this one. Also, every other downloadable Xbox One game costs more than $12. Peggle 2 is the most affordable of the lot, and also one of the best.
  • This article didn't mention the constant crashing. My roomate and I beat it to 100% completion last night, and in that time, the game crashed about 10 times. Luckily, it only happened once when we were one shot away from beating a difficult challenge.
  • If it had happened to me, I would have mentioned it. Sorry to hear you guys had problems.
  • Hasn't crashed once for me either
  • The spam video feed rubbish is something that needs fixing. FIFA is just as bad. It would have been a much better feature if every punched out save et al, was not recorded.
  • I love the game but man they need to fix the whole Game Recording, they should make it an Option you can turn off within the game.
  • Have to agree about the game recording.  I much preferred the original's method of giving you the option of replaying a point afterwards, and from there recording it with a caption if you wanted to.  There's no real need for it to record an actual video and eat up hard drive space (albeit temporarily - you have to go to each video and choose "save" if you want to keep it), when the first game just had to remember some variables about the shot and remaining pegs, and reproduce it.  Let us use Game DVR to record things to a video if we want to. Online play has worked fine for me, but it does have a tendency to drop me in the middle of an ongoing match with Bjorn, so I usually have to 'play along' until the end of a match I know I'm not going to be competitive in, before I can choose a master and start a round from the beginning.  Odd.  "Duel" mode should be a welcome addition. I suspect/hope more level packs and Masters will be available as DLC.  I've got all the Achievements already, but I'll gladly play more Peggle. ;)  (DLC might have more Achievements too?).  And I'm hoping we'll see the game come out for Windows Phone too!  (I've already messaged @popcap and @eamobile to express this - others should too!) ;)  
  • Great comment, Cyber K9. I'm looking forward to the DLC as well. :)
  • I'm loving Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
  • For a console brand which is associated with shooters, the One is starting with some pretty charming titles !