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Pipe Mania Package Art
GENRE
Puzzle
DEVELOPER
Razorback
PUBLISHER
Empire Interactive
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
No
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
No
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Pipe Mania

If there's one thing that is totally undesirable, it's having green sludge flood your home. No matter the environment, the desert, a factory, an island, or even in underground sewers, it's a generally accepted fact of life that having things covered in the aforementioned green sludge is pretty much a bad thing. Fortunately, in the Nintendo DS version of Pipe Mania, that is exactly what will be prevented -- providing the person playing the game has wit, skill, and dexterity.

visuals

The graphics of Pipe Mania will be instantly recognizable to anyone who's played the game before, or as one of its earlier incarnations (it was notably called Pipe Dream at one point, among other assorted names). Differing shapes of pipe are laid out among a grid. In Pipe Mania for DS, these pipes tend to alter appearance depending on which level one is currently in, and can occasionally change into other shapes, such as open-ended pipes, conveyor belts, and railroad ties.

The characters are drawn in a watercolor-styled motif that is echoed by the levels to an extent. More importantly, navigating the menus is quite easy with the stylus due to the large layout and clear buttons, and equally so with button control. During play, the lower screen features the action while the upper screen serves as a "status" screen, showing the upcoming pipe pieces, score, time remaining (in certain stages), and other assorted bits of information.

audio

While Pipe Mania doesn't necessarily feature a soundtrack most people might want to purchase and listen to during spare time, neither is it a particularly painful experience. Blasts, bursts, squishes and explosions are what the sound effects primarily feature, and combined with the steady beat of the background music, they lend the game a driving industrial feel.

gameplay

Despite many, many name changes in America (including the aforementioned Pipe Dream, the game has also been known as Wallpipe, Fun2Link, Pipeworks, Pipe Master, Oilcap, and DragonSnot, among other names), Pipe Mania has always been the same game underneath: keep placing pipe fittings to keep the "flooze" from spilling, overflowing, or reaching a dead end. That's the basic goal.

The DS version of Pipe Mania takes things a bit beyond this, however. The game constructs a story around master plumber Alfonso Sr., who made a very large fortune fulling his "pipe dreams" and now owns a private island. Unfortunately, that no-good varmint Buffalo Bob is going around messing up the plumbing everywhere, so it's up to Alfonso's children Junior and Fawcett -- the player's choice as to which -- to prove they're worthy of their father's legacy and save the day. While it also includes a conversion of the original edition of Pipe Mania, this "World" mode is the star of the show. Other modes and levels are unlocked by beating levels or achieving certain scores in the main stages.

In addition to Classic and World mode, the game also features Arcade mode, where the game grid is constantly moving, and Bonus, in which the stages are more like puzzles in and of themselves. Specific pieces must be placed or rotated; speed is the key to winning in this mode. The extra modes really add some life to the title, and the additional unlockables -- like character art, movies, and Pipe Mania trivia -- provide more reason to shoot for high scores.

While the game can be played with the stylus, utilizing the buttons works far better, especially for those used to playing traditional puzzle games on consoles, although Pipe Mania has been playable on PC for over a decade, as well. An in-game tutorial explains how the system works and introduces new concepts so new players won't feel too left out.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

Pipe Mania is a decent reinterpretation of a classic game, and as a puzzler, ranks pretty high on the historical hierarchy. Ultimately, how much someone can enjoy Pipe Mania for DS depends on how much fondness one has for the original game. A full-featured single player experience somewhat makes up for the complete lack of any multiplayer modes, and the characters and story are a charming addition. Puzzle fanatics will most certainly want to check this one out.

final score 7.8/10





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Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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