Caelum puts a fresh spin on pachinko

If you’ve played PopCap’s Peggle then we don’t need to tell you how much fun pachinko can be. ApGames is putting its own spin on the pachinko concept with an upcoming game called Caelum, and we got our hands on a preview demo to tell you how it’s shaping up.

In the original game of pachinko (which is a mainstay in Japanese gambling parlors), a ball is launched into a playfield of different pins. As the ball falls, it bounces against the pins and changes direction by chance. If the ball hits certain areas on its way to the bottom, points and jackpots are earned.

In Caelum, you aim a ball from the top of the screen, then click to launch it downwards through a field of different colored orbs, with the goal of clearing all of the red ones by touching them. You get several balls to accomplish the task, and orbs that are touched disappear from the playfield.

The ball is lost when it disappears off the bottom of the screen, but if you’re lucky it will hit a scrolling bar that bounces it back into play. Side bumpers add to the excitement by affecting the direction of the ball in different ways as it bounces off.

This is the basic concept, but Caelum adds a few fun twist into the mix. For one thing, you can subtly nudge the entire group of orbs left or right with the mouse buttons once the ball is in play, much in the same way that pinball wizards will gently push on the sides of a pinball machine to finesse the ball to fall a certain way.

There are also power-ups that can be unleashed, such as a fireball that destroys everything in its path, Gravity Control (which causes the ball to follow the movements of your mouse), and an explosive ball that destroys nearby orbs upon impact.

At launch, Caelum will have 50 levels with two difficulty settings, as well as 20 challenges and 15 trophies to earn. The demo was missing story panels so we can’t tell you what the game will be about, but it seems to have an outer space theme. Given that there’s a constellation of stars called Caelum, that seems to make sense. (Fun fact: Caelum is also the Latin word for chisel.)

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