Dachinko

If you’ve got a hankering for some Pachinko fun, this new offering from Gamecask may just do the trick. Dachinko offers ball-launching gameplay with huge addictive qualities and a very distinct graphical style.

Each of the 55 levels on offer play out in a Pachinko machine, with balls ready to be launched into a series of pegs, seesaws and spinners. Players choose the power of each launch via a handle at the bottom right of the machine, then sit back and watch the ball fall through the obstacles and hopefully land in the appropriate jar.

There are three different jars to land the balls in, which each have their own purpose. The green jug is your main target, giving out extra balls as prizes and allowing you to complete the level if enough balls are collected. The yellow jug decreases the pressure in the machine – pressure that builds up as your balls miss the target and fall into the bottom of the machine. Finally, the blue jar awards extra points.

The first few levels are a little too empty – they’re meant as tutorial levels to ease you into the action, but instead they come across as rather dull. Fortunately, the action soon gets going properly, and the level design is a real treat, offering a variety of different obstacles and clever paths to take. Levels can occasionally feel quite daunting initially, but soon you’ll get into a rhythm and really enjoy yourself.

As with the likes of Peggle and Caelum, once the ball has been launched its path is completely random, and you don’t have much input into where it goes. Right-clicking allows you to nudge the machine and slightly influence the ball’s direction, but barely. Yet watching the balls fall and getting lucky now and again is really very addictive stuff – plus, it’s perfect for playing while doing something else at the same time.

Every 10 levels, you’re treated to an ‘artistic performance’ from the game’s main character, which really show off the unique graphical style that Dachinko possesses. It’s not that the game looks all that fantastic as such – more that it gives the feel of a real Pachinko machine.

Apart from the regular mode, there is also Casino and Relax. Casino is a lot more difficult than the normal levels, but just as addictive – there are cups marked 1-9 along the bottom of the screen, and you need to make balls fall into the appropriate cups in an attempt to fill in a 3×3 grid, earning yourself more balls and extra points. As you’d expect, Relax mode is a nice distraction for firing off lots of balls at once and watching them bounce around while achieving huge point scores.

While the levels are great fun to play, it’s a little annoying that only one level is available to play at a time. You need to complete each level to unlock the next one, and it would have been nice to have a few levels available at a time in case a particular level is troubling you. The extra modes are also locked for a good couple of hours of play – again, it would be nice to receive these a little earlier on.

Certain levels can also prove far too difficult, and you’ll eventually end up firing off all your balls over and over again in the hope of getting lucky and being able to move on. Seesaw placement in particular can be a real pain.

Dachinko provides plenty of addictive Pachinko gaming with a lovely authentic feel. Pick up a copy and prepare to say “just one more game” a fair few times. There’s a demo available for anyone wanting to try before they buy.