Review Date: August 10, 2010
Developer: Ap Games
Publisher: Ap Games
It's impossible to talk about Caelum without mentioning Peggle. The two puzzle games feature remarkably similar gameplay, so much so that at first glance it can be hard to tell which is which. But where as Peggle is a bright, cheerful, and fun experience, Caelum is much more slow and relaxed and, unfortunately, doesn't add enough new to lure players away from the maddeningly addictive Peggle.
Pegs In Space
The concept behind the game is simple, and very similar to pachinko. You're presented with a screen full of pegs -- called orbs in the game -- and a number of balls. The goal is to use the balls to eliminate all of the red pegs. But you once you make your shot you have no control over the ball, so the key to the game lies in strategically setting up your shots. Each level, of which there are 50 in total, is set up differently. Sometimes the orbs will be stationary, other times they'll be moving. Some orbs have different characteristics, with some giving you access to special abilities while others can be pushed around into others.
If you ever played Peggle in any of its many forms, the game will feel intimately familiar. There are a few twists that differentiate Caelum from its PopCap developed counterpart, including the aforementioned pushable orbs. But there's also a floating panel at the bottom of the screen that will reverse the direction of any ball that happens to hit it, forcing it back up to the top of the screen before falling back down again. Aside from that though, the only real gameplay difference is the ability to nudge the screen as if you were playing pinball. Unfortunately, while a neat idea, in practice it's pretty much useless.
A Robot in Need of Some Personality
While its gameplay is addictive, another reason that Peggle has become so popular is due to its personality. With bright colors, cheerful music, and even a unicorn, Peggle was simply a happy experience. Not so for Caelum. Its space theme is bland and uninteresting, even with a story to support it. In between each level you'll be greeted with the diary entries of ROB, a creatively named robot, who is apparently clearing red orbs in an attempt to solve a global energy crisis of some sort. These entries are short and sometimes humorous, but for the most part they feel completely unnecessary. Thankfully, they are also completely skippable.
This distinct lack of personality extends to the sound and visuals. Caelum looks a lot like Peggle stripped of all that made it look interesting. There's no huge explosions when you beat a level, and ROB is a poor substitution for the team of adorable animals that made up Peggle's cast of characters. The music is suitably atmospheric, but lacking in variety. It feels like you're listening to the same exact song over and over again.
The Bottom Line
If you're going to create a game that's so similar to one as well loved as Peggle, than you'd better at least bring something new to the table. Unfortunately with Caelum, Ap Games has failed to do this. It's a solid bout of pachinko action, but it doesn't do near enough to differentiate itself from the competition. The new additions aren't enough to make it enticing. Unless you are in dire need of a new pachinko fix, chances are you'll be better off waiting for inevitable next Peggle game.