Welcome to Best of Gams Pass where each week I’m going to pick out a game available on Game Pass and explain why I think it is worth playing. While I’ll certainly include some of the bigger titles available on the service, I’ll focus more on other games that you might have overlooked in the hope of leading you to a hidden gem.
Peggle 2 made its way onto Game Pass fairly recently thanks to EA Play getting rolled into the already gigantic library of titles. And what a brilliant addition it is, a colourful explosion of goodness that is fine-tuned to make you smile. Over the years since its initial launch in 2013, Peggle 2 has become a game I go back to regularly when I’m looking to just kick back and relax with something simple yet satisfying, easy yet tricky. While people argue over whether Peggle 2 is a good sequel or not, for me it’s easily the best of the available Peggle games.
But what is Peggle 2, aside from being more cheerful than your grandma who hasn’t seen you for a few weeks and has been cooking all day in order to ensure you leave looking like a human meatball? Peggle 2 is a puzzle game where you have a simple goal: get rid of all the orange pegs on the screen. Blocking your progress are loads and loads of blue pegs that will need to be cleared out. At the top of the screen you’ve got a cannon filled with exactly ten balls that you can fire down the screen, hopefully bouncing your shot off of multiple pegs along the way.
That’s the basic concept, but there are some added complexities to think about. First, you can get extra balls by scoring enough points during a shot. Every orange peg you clear builds up a multiplier which makes the blue pegs worth more, so it’s good Peggle strategy to clear out a bunch of the orange pegs as early as you can, especially when chasing high scores in order to complete optional goals or just to beat your friends. On top of that, there’s a moving bucket on the bottom of the screen and getting the ball in that grants you extra points, and a bonus ball. You can also score extra points for a bunch of different shots, like 25,000 points for performing a long shot between orange pegs.
Then you have the five Peggle Masters (two more are available for a few quid each) to choose from. These characters are a charming bunch like Bjorn the unicorn who occasionally farts rainbows and a Yeti who loves to display his censored butt to the world. Each of them boasts a special power that is activated by hitting the special green pegs. Bjorn, for example, is the most new-player friendly because he gets a pointer which gives you a much more precise idea of where the ball will bounce. A trickier character is creepy ghost-girl Luna whose power lets her shots pass straight through blue pegs like a ghost floating through walls.
You know the saying, easy to learn, hard to master? Well, that’s Peggle 2. You can jump in and start launching balls at the scenery with minimal thought and still have a brilliant time as you watch the ball pinball its way down the screen racking up points as it goes. There’s something weirdly satisfying about watching the pegs light up and the little sounds they make and seeing all the character animations play out. And yet, there’s depth to Peggle 2. Watching someone play Peggle 2 is very different than watching someone whose really good at playing Peggle 2. There’s skill in judging your shots for maximum points and consistently getting the ball in the bucket. There’s skill in knowing when to use an ability and how to make the most of that ability. If you want to spend the extra time and effort to get good at Peggle 2, you’ll be rewarded for that.
When you hit that final orange peg the game suddenly explodes into a cacophony of sound and colour, intent on making you feel like you’re on top of the world. Orchestral music like Ode to Joy and William Tell Overture blasts out of the speakers and straight into your soul while your chosen Master celebrates on the side screen. The floor turns into a series of holes worth 10,000-100,000 bonus points, although if you manage to clear every single peg then each hole will be worth the full 100,000 points. And those points get combined with your existing score in a crescendo of noise. It’s indescribably glorious stuff, so joyous that for a few brief, wondrous seconds you feel like your Mum is actually proud of the person you’ve become, that you can face down any problem, that world peace could be achieved and that it’s all going to be alright. Honestly, it’s a blood additive feeling. Don’t be surprised if you start chasing down orange pegs like a crack addict looking for a fix.
Peggle 2 is a fantastic, casual puzzle game that I can’t recommend enough. And its small file size make it pefect to leave on your Xbox so that you can jump in every now and then for a few games without worrying too much about it taking up valuable space. It’s even better on a Series S or Series X with that SSD, In fact, I think Peggle 2 has permanently been on Quick Resume since I got the Series S so that I can bounce back in when I’ve got a few spare minutes or want to play something but don’t fancy starting something new or something big. Do yourself a favour, go play Peggle 2 and then lament the fact that there’s still no Peggle 3 or a big Peggle 2 expansion pack.
Oh, and the original Peggle is available on Games Pass, too, so you can check that out if you’re after even more Peggle goodness.