In a way, this hurts.
It hurts to shower praise on “Peggle 2” (Xbox One; $15.00; Rated E) because there hasn’t been all that much to praise about the Xbox One console so far. It’s a fantastic machine, but there aren’t enough games for it yet.
“Killer Instinct” is an excellent but unfinished fighter; “Ryse” is a fantastic demonstration of the console’s graphic potential; and “Forza Motorsport 5” is a beautiful racing game with a questionable in-game purchasing strategy.
And yet, “Peggle 2” may well be the best that the Xbox One has to offer so far.
It hurts because “Peggle 2” is really no different from the original “Peggle,” at least in a functional sense. If you’ve played “Peggle,” you’ve basically played “Peggle 2.”
If you haven’t played either, here’s the gist: You shoot small metallic balls out of a cannon at the top of the screen. You don’t get to control the speed (pretty fast) or starting the placement (dead center), just the angle at which the balls exit the cannon.
Starting with 10 balls, you have to hit 15 orange pegs to win a level and move on to the next one. The ball bounces off the pegs when it collides with them, and the key to success is making sure it bounces into the correct pegs.
As you travel through the game, you meet five “Peggle Masters” who each grant you a specific power to help you on your way to hitting all the orange pegs you would ever want. Proper use of these powers will propel you to either easy victory or high scores.
Much of the player’s time is spent watching. Once you fire the ball, you’re essentially helpless to do anything until that ball falls off the playing field. It’s not fast action.
Anybody from the smallest child to the most experienced gamer can play it. Not only that, but anybody can be successful at it.
That’s the brilliance of a game like “Peggle,” and by extension, “Peggle 2.” If you lose, you may as well try again, because chances are pretty good that you’ll win on the next try.
So you do try again. And again. And again. And just like that, it’s 3 a.m.
The addictive qualities of “Peggle 2” are enhanced by the game’s tendency to change just as it’s getting boring.
If you’ve had about enough of hunting down 15 orange pegs at a time, maybe you can take down all of the pegs instead. Maybe you can try to win with more than one master’s power. Maybe you can perfectly place a shot so it slides down a series of brick-shaped pegs.
The game keeps track of all of the special challenges you pull off, and there’s a full 1,000 points’ worth of achievements to unlock by doing these challenges – if you’re into the whole achievement thing.
“Peggle 2” is an Xbox One exclusive title as of now, and it’s as good a reason as any to take the plunge and invest in the new console.
But it’s a bit ironic, because a game like “Peggle” really does not need the souped-up graphics specs of the Xbox One. “Peggle” isn’t visually impressive, and the Kinect motion-control features are nothing to linger on.
“Peggle” doesn’t dazzle – it’s just a good game. But in the end, a good game will always win out over good tech.
New This Week: “The Lego Movie Videogame” (multiple platforms) is the latest in TT Games’ wonderful franchise of Lego games based on movies. Only this time around, the particular movie (“The Lego Movie”) is actually about Legos.
Got that? No? It doesn’t matter – if it’s anything like TT’s other Lego games, it’ll be plenty of fun anyway.