Pipe Mania

Pipe Mania Preview for PS2

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Connect the pipes before it's too late
Connect the pipes before it's too late

Connect the pipes before it's too late

Here's a fun way to spend an afternoon: Fill you pockets with loose change, then seek out your nearest arcade - there aren't too many of these places left nowadays, so you may have to visit the seaside. Once you're there, ignore the battered old Double Dragon cabinet and take a good look around. In some dark corner of the room you should find a dribbling old man with filthy clothes and matted grey hair. Ignore the urine stench, and pay your respects: this man is what we refer to as a Veteran Gamer.

If you give him your coinage and let him play Pac-man for a bit, he'll tell you his stories of days gone by. He'll speak about his war with the Space Invaders, and regale you with tales of Dizzy - Prince of the Yolk Folk. With a teary eye, he'll recall the moment when Peter Molyneux invented the god genre, with Populous. And if you ask him nicely about puzzle games, he may mention the words "Pipe Mania."

Back in the fluorescent 80s, Pipe Mania was one of the world's most popular puzzlers - with ports available on every big format, from the ZX Spectrum to the Atari ST (stop laughing - they were huge at the time). To the current generation, the title's frantic gameplay will be something of a complete unknown - although a rough equivalent can be found in BioShock's hacking mini-games. In essence, the idea is that you're presented with a grid of squares, with an entrance pipe. After a short period of time, water (or "flooze," as the game calls it) begins to flow out onto the grid. Your job is to build a course for the liquid, keeping it contained for as long as possible using a series of pipes, in tetris-style shapes. That's it in a nutshell, but this description fails to convey the sheer panic of advanced levels - when the speed of the flooze increases and you find yourself flailing around for the one pipe that will save your bacon (and your high score).

pipemaniabox -

We hope this guy makes it onto the remake's box art

Back in the day, the sole aim of the game was to rack up points. As you might expect, Empire Interactive's forthcoming revival of the series will add a series of tweaks and reformations while retaining the core concept and gameplay. In the past, allowing the flooze to reach the end of your pipes resulted in instant failure, but now the player is given a small reservoir which begins to fill if your track is incomplete; only when this overflows is it time to start again. This concession in difficulty will be balanced out by the inclusion of new hazards, the most prominent being enemy characters who attack your pipe networks with special powers. While you're laying down new pieces, you'll be forced to go back and fix leaks caused by these bastard saboteurs.

Empire is promising over 70 levels, spread across five different game modes - including one with a full narrative (a crucial element of any puzzle game). You won't just be messing around with pipes either: seven themed worlds will set you various tasks, from laying down electric cabling to building a track for a runaway train. The changes between scenario will affect gameplay, rather than just being a mere palette-swap; the locomotive levels reminded us of an ancient out-of-control-choo-choo puzzler by the name of Guttang Gottong - if you remember this, you're either very old or the kind of person who enjoys digging up extremely rare games.

With multiplayer modes and the chance to play the original title, it looks as though Empire is giving Pipe Mania a thoroughly comprehensive revival. It'll be out at some point this year on PC, Wii, PS2, DS and PSP - although there'll be no Atari St version, sadly. There's no word yet on whether the box-art will feature the terrifying bloke whose screaming face decorated the original release. Fingers crossed!

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4 Comments

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Machetazo's Avatar

Machetazo

Good to hear from you. Great news about the original gameplay being included, I'm really pleased you were able to confirm that. Irritate me...Not so much, it's just that "previews" without the author's own opinion, come across as a bit..They're not the best of their type.

You touched on what I was eager to find out, in your reply, as well: how these new elements affect the framework - positively, or negatively.

I don't have a DS, but I agree that this seems made for a portable, really; so I'll look for the PSP version, when the game's released. (I can imagine the Wii version being a bit fiddly, and the pace of the game starting to work against the player of that version.)

Thanks, Neon! :)
Posted 17:25 on 02 September 2008
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

Hi Machetazo,

Cheers for your comments... First up, I can confirm that the original Pipe Mania will be included in the new titles. The new game modes, from what i've seen, are still very close to the original feel - but it's a nice inclusion nonetheless.

I actually only got a brief go on the new game at Leipzig, hence the lack of any detailed gameplay description... I personally didn't want to label this preview as being a "hands on," for that very reason. But we did anyway. Apologies if that irritated you!

What I can say from my brief encounter is that the gameplay seems very close to the first game - the new additions don't mess things up, as is often the case with revamped puzzlers. If you liked the original, then you'll almost certainly liked this. The DS version is going to (obviously) offer stylus support; I reckon that may be the platform this does best on.

I'm still disappointed about the lack of the screamy man though!

- Neon (my real name, i'm afraid. Hippie parents....)
Posted 09:49 on 02 September 2008
Machetazo's Avatar

Machetazo

hah. that's "simple in concept, addictive puzzler" :)
Posted 17:49 on 01 September 2008
Machetazo's Avatar

Machetazo

First, I'm happy that this is being released. Everyone ought to be able to give this simple, addictive puzzler a try. I very much hope that a "classic" mode is included, so that people can also give the original gameplay a go, before getting into Empire's additions.

I imagine "Neon", that you'll be most disappointed to learn that screamy man from the original boxart has been omitted for this new game, in favour of a cartoon plumber, and his mate! http://www.game.co.uk/EnlargedImage....id=333598&js=1

I, on the other hand, was disappointed to not see any reference in the article to your own experiences of playing the title, or any mention of a known release date.
Posted 17:48 on 01 September 2008

Game Stats

Release Date: 26/09/2008
Publisher: Empire Interactive
Genre: Puzzle
No. Players: 1-2
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 8,120 27
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