What is true horror? Is it the heart palpitations as the Alien breaths into the locker you’re sinking into? How about the the sweaty palms and laboured breathing that accompanies any trip to Outlast’s Asylum? Some purists might even argue true terror is the roar of a chainsaw as it gobbles up Leon Kennedy’s neck. All those are incorrect. You’re yet to know true mind-destroying terror until you have tumbled into the twisted evil that is Peggle 2.
Yes, the bright and cheery puzzler with unicorns, primary colours and Ode To Joy. Book a trip into a nice padded room, because a trip through Peggle’s madness will alter your soul.
The unicorn farts rainbows, the descent begins.
Peggle doesn’t want you to know it’s true aim – to insidiously terrify you to an early grave – straight away, that’s why it teases the soul-bending lunacy slowly. Its first, overt wink to the incoming madness is Bjorn the Unicorn, de facto mascot for the series and an all around normal horned-horse. Until he starts ripping massive rainbow farts. The science is implausible at best. Probably should stop thinking about it, it can’t get any weirder than unicorn rainbow farts…
A goat’s head explodes as his corpse’s taunts you with your own mortality.
When you finish a level in most games, you are afforded a moment of celebration. Peggle 2 starts revealing it’s true colours by turning that celebration into an unexpectedly horrifying and demented show of exploding heads. When you win a level with Jeff the Troll, we get to witness one of the goat’s on his shoulder head turn into brain pate. For added what-the-flippery, it goes up in a mushroom cloud, his beheaded corpse motionless till his head pops back up once your score has been totted up. Peggle cares not for reason, just pure and utter madness, in the form of decapitated and then resurrected dead goats.
A yeti shakes his pixelated arse at you, daring you to stare into the void.
When it comes to the character of Berg, his victory dance is meant to be an innocent bum wiggle. But what’s psychological horror without all that’s pure being horrifically tainted. This being Peggle 2, it morphs it into something ungodly by pixelating out his buttocks. Because why would a bit of fur being wiggled need pixelating? Well, that’s because somehow his dance is mentally scarring without pixelation. When he’s dressed like a baby – of course he is – and wearing a diaper, it has two rather unfortunate lumps protruding that’s meant to be his jiggling arse. Careful with that nightmare fuel, PopCap.
Gnorman’s skill shot is called Major Discharge, reminding you that you’re nothing more than a diseased meat bag.
For a moment – a brief, wonderful moment – Peggle eases up and let’s the terror simmer. You can’t really play this game calm, but Gnorman seems to be a bastion of normal in this godforsaken assault on your sanity. That is until you see his style shot, which is called ‘Major Discharge’. Popcap might pretend this is a pun based around his electricity powers, but you know what it’s saying. You know the taunting has begun again. Peggle 2 is infinite, we are but flesh and bone. There is no escape from it’s blackened soul.
Gnorman creates a robo-shell that Buffalo Bill would be proud of.
Gnorman, bastion of relative normality that he is, also has a rather disturbing line in weird robot suits to dress himself up in. His feminine robot suit shouldn’t really be as bleach grabbingly awful as it is, but it looks like he took design tips from Leatherface and Buffalo Bill. Everything about it is just… off. Why would Gnorman need a pouty mouth covered in lipstick? Or a hairstyle for that matter? Because there is some horrible movie monster evil bubbling behind those cold robo-eyes, obviously.
One of your Peggle Masters is the ghost of a dead girl, because mortality waits for no-one.
By the time the final character is introduced, you would have thought Peggle 2 would have ran out of ways to chill you. Alas, you would be sadly mistaken. It’s only fitting for a game that makes Silent Hill look like Mario Kart that your final avatar is the ghost of a young child. In case you were under any misconceptions of her untimely death, she actually rises from her grave. So, uh, yeah, you’re playing as a dead child. The fact ‘In The Hall Of The Mountain King’ hums away in the background just adds to the sense of hopeless despair.
Luna’s smile is the last thing you’ll see as your sanity departs.
Yes, there are such things as friendly ghosts as Casper will be quick to remind you of. Luna is not one of them. She seems to be a straight up serial killer, her creepy smile and flashes of dead teddy bears an indicator Luna enjoys nothing more than a good murder. Oh and when a bird flies onto her shoulder, it instantly drops dead. Luna will literally the suck the life out of anything that gets too close to her.