Pipe Mania Preview
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-08-18 Nintendo DS Puzzle E (Everyone) Empire Interactive

When Pipe Mania was released in 1989 for home computers, players immediately fell in love with the simple concept behind the game, with that concept being to construct a system of pipes long enough to transfer a specific amount of goo (or flooz, if you'd prefer) across a certain distance. After almost 20 years, thanks to the folks at Empire Interactive, the Pipe Mania (or Pipe Dream, as later reincarnations are often known) formula is returning once again to allow players young and old the opportunity to play through this ever-popular genre of casual puzzle gaming.

After hearing about the game through a conference call with Empire Interactive's Ben Wilkins and P.J. Snavely, I'm happy to say that this is one franchise that I am very happy to see return.

Being released on the DS, PSP, PS2, and the PC this September, Pipe Mania is a puzzle game that's quite different from other, more simple puzzlers. Where other puzzle games may require rapid fire clicking, tapping, etc., Pipe Mania instead challenges players to use their hand-eye coordination and a substantial amount of forethought to play the game.

To put the gameplay into simple terms, players take on the role of plumbers who are trying to transfer a certain amount of liquid, goo, etc. from one side of the game board to the other using randomized pipe pieces of various shapes and sizes. All of this is to be done without spilling a single drop of goo and within a certain time limit.

Being that the pipe pieces are randomly generated, no two paths will be the same from level to level, even if you find yourself retrying a certain level multiple times. However, this isn't to say that players will have no idea whatsoever as to what to expect, as there is a "preview" function in the game that allows players to see which pieces are coming up next, very much like how Tetris will tell you which piece will drop next.

And while this may sound like a standard porting of the original Pipe Mania from the 80's simply developed for modern day systems, the gameplay doesn?t seem to be as copy and paste as it may outwardly appear. As players make their way through levels, they will run into new and different types of pipe pieces, as well as different types of goo that behave in a variety of ways. All of these new upgrades are set to add a lot of challenge to this pick-up-and-play formula.

Furthermore, the game will contain new modes such as a story mode and a competitive head-to-head mode. Also, the game is much larger than its many predecessors containing (depending on the platform) anywhere from 250 to 300 levels.

Pipe Mania will also offer many other bonus games that change the basic gameplay rules, such as levels that will give players a predetermined set of pipes that must be put together in a precise fashion in order to complete the level.

The story or world mode, however, is arguably the most important addition here, and will contain helpful new characters that provide a great way for unfamiliar players to jump right into the gameplay. The first section will introduce players to the basic rules of the title, with the second section moving you into the sewers.

Afterwards, similarities to the original game become few and far between, as you are eventually transferred to a railroad setting, allowed to use bridges and other new enhancements, and are faced with the integration of outside items, like rubber ducks that must travel down the goo river, if you will, from one side of the game board to the other. Other themed areas and bonus levels will be included as well, allowing for (presumably) dozens of hours of gameplay overall.

Even though the game is being released on more modern platforms, every version will be presented in 2D. While the exact reasons as to why weren't disclosed in the conference call, Wilkins did make a point of mentioning that the original game itself was in 2D, and that this choice would not only allude to the original title, but would also clear the screen of any added clutter often found in 3D games of this type.

With so many game modes, including arcade and various versus options, along with the easier story mode, Pipe Mania is set to appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers of all ages, whether they were familiar with the original titles or not.

Check back with GrrlGamer after the game's release in September for a full review.