Tetris is the best puzzle game of all time, but Peggle 2 comes pretty darn close.
Despite how popular and accessible the puzzle genre is, it’s a hard genre to stand out it. Puzzles represent perhaps the single oldest kind of “game.” It’s therefore hard to stand out with a special puzzle game idea that feels both familiar and fresh.
Tetris has thrived thanks to its easy-to-understand but highly addictive block-stacking and line-clearing gameplay. Another one is much more underrated, but just as good: Peggle 2. Taking inspiration from pinball and pachinko machines, EA and PopCap games created one of the best puzzle game’s ever in the early 2010s.
It’s included in your Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, so you need to give it a shot if you haven’t yet.
The goal of Peggle is simple. You have 10 balls you can shoot onto a board with 100 pegs, and you must hit and clear 25 orange pegs scattered across the board before you run out of balls. A moves back and forth of the bottom of the board, and if your ball lands in it you get another free ball to use.
It’s a simple game to comprehend, but it becomes even more rewarding and entertaining once you start to take the game’s other systems into account. You get points for every peg you hit, with orange pegs and one purple peg serving as multipliers for the points you can earn when hit. There are also several playable characters whose special abilities can be used when a green peg is hit.
For the magical unicorn Bjorn, the ability just gives you a better idea of where you’re shooting the ball as it shows its path. Other characters have abilities that can destroy, phase through, or push pegs around to help increase your point count and chances of winning.
While the concept behind Peggle 2 is quite simple, there’s a lot of hidden depth to aiming your shots right, using powers at the right time, and maximizing the points gained with every shot you take. Even though there are a set number of levels, the slight randomization of the pegs every time you play and multiplayer will keep you playing for quite a while if you can get some friends to try it with you.
All of this is wrapped in a slightly irreverent but cute fantasy aesthetic. You’ll grow attached to the quirks of your favorite characters and how they react to the final orange peg being hit. You can’t help but smile every time Bjorn starts headbanging or ghost skeleton girl Luna’s jaw falls off when you hit your final peg and your points are being counted up.
Peggle 2 has charm in spades, and that only bolsters the unique puzzle game concept. Peggle 2 isn’t endless; it has a finite number of levels and trials for players to experience. That’s why it’s a shame we haven’t gotten a new Peggle game since Peggle Blast hit mobile in 2014. If you do want more Peggle, the first game in the series is also on Xbox Game Pass.
Still, Peggle 2 is one of the most finely crafted puzzle games on Xbox and certainly PopCap’s best game.
How to play — Peggle 2 is part of the EA Play subscription service, which is integrated into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. As a result, you can try Peggle 2 for yourself on a console or via the cloud as long as you have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. Otherwise, it costs $11.99 on Xbox One, Xbox 360, or PS4, which is still worth it for such an enjoyable game.
Peggle 2 is available now on Xbox Game Pass.