Bjorn harbours a secret desire to be a crime-fighter. Brilliant, you think. Let's see if his Super Guide - a power which tells you where the ball's going to go from its first bounce, great for scoring the long-shot bonus - has somehow evolved to fit his dreams. Perhaps it's more glittery, or comes out of his eyes like a laser. It doesn't. So you downscale your own dreams, and wonder it he'll put a mask on at any point. He doesn't.
The other dreams all raise a smile; whether it's the gentle xenophobia of Claude's rampage through Paris, Splork's hunger for a perfect 300 in bowling, or Tula's heartbreaking dreams of being able to simply move around, there's a sweet and unpredictable mix of dreams on offer. When Tula resigns herself to a lifetime of immobility, it's a moment of bleakness to rival the movies of Todd Solondz. [Is it. - Ed]
But there's nothing new in the game. There's nothing new in the levels. No bumpers, trampolines, magnets, none of the stuff I was dimly hoping for. Any new challenges? No - it's the same series of 35-peg to 55-peg challenges, duels and marathons. Perhaps PopCap has worked with Valve and Steam, like it did with Peggle Extreme, to introduce online duelling? No. You'll still be sharing palm-sweat with your friend. Maybe Claude's flippers have been fixed to make them less tediously wall-hugging? The answer, as I'm sure you're beginning to suspect, is no.
In some ways, the board design is a little disappointing, too. Renfield's levels have the inaccessible boxiness that Tula's had in the first game, and this really doesn't flatter his Spooky Ball special power at all. You're going to have to wait until the challenge levels to feel the full and awesome force of the pumpkin. Incidentally, here's a fun fact - when PopCap was designing Renfield for the first game, he was originally going to be a ghost. But because you only get to see the character's head during the levels, he looked like a Klansman. Hence the pumpkin.
I'm not being completely fair - there are two new things. There's an Aced award, for high scores. This adds to that trophy-collecting aspect of the game, that'll appeal to the incredibly patient, bored and compulsive. More importantly, there's a new Peggle Master. Marina the Squid is a solid Peggler, and her new power - a lightning bolt that travels from the first peg hit to the bucket - has a small skill element that's lacking in the genetics of the game. It's also well-suited to her levels, making her round one of the most enjoyable. Her dream is to join the Peggle Institute, which is a great way to end the Adventure mode. Everyone's happy. Except for Tula, whose application for a motorised plant pot appears to have been turned down.
I'm far from a Peggle hater, and the last thing the world needs is a Peggle backlash; I loved Peggle Deluxe, I cheered for Peggle Extreme, and seriously considered putting a series of commentated duels on YouTube. The phrase "that's liquid Peggle" remains a private joke, and I've spent happy lunchtimes cheering my deranged friend Steve onto winning that third and stupidest trophy for 100 per cent clearance on all levels. Peggle Nights is still a great casual game. It's just a game that PopCap has released before. It's like draughts and checkers. You don't need to buy the board and pieces twice to play the same bloody game.
6 / 10