Pipe Mania
iPhone App
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Pipe Mania

Our Review by Benjamin Foster on July 29th, 2009
Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CHALLENGING
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Are you ready to lay some pipe? Pipe Mania is a revamped port of the classic computer game that puts your plumbing skills to the test. Puzzle games are a dime a dozen on the iPhone, but this is in the upper tier and perfect for fans old and new.

Developer: Virtual Programming Ltd
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

I remember this game as Pipe Dream, one of the original Gameboy games released back in the day for the brick sized model. I remember seeing ads for it in all the video game magazines of the time, and even though I never got a chance to play it, I always thought it seemed well suited for the Gameboy’s handheld format. Apparently it was originally released for the Amiga, and then ported to just about every computer and console in existence. I don’t know how I’ve missed it so many times throughout the years, but I have to say my initial instincts were correct. Pipe Mania is fun, challenging and is a perfect fit for a handheld like the iPhone.

The game opens with a charming bit of animation introducing you to the various characters you’ll encounter in the game. The clip was unfortunately cut short by an accidental screen press, but as a student of animation I was impressed. The graphics and presentation are top notch.

One thing I really liked is the way the games tutorial stage pointed out each icon on screen and explained what its function was. Too often games will throw you to the wolves and leave it to you to figure it out yourself. Three months later you’ll be saying “Oh that’s what that does?”

For those unfamiliar, the basic game requires you to connect various pieces of pipe to each other in a timely manner before “flooze” comes crashing through and spills all over your game screen. The pieces are presented in Tetris style fashion, and you’ll find yourself quickly cycling through them (and losing points in the process) to get to that specific piece needed to proceed. There is a genuine feeling of panic as you hear that faucet start to turn and realize your plumbing is in disarray and you’re headed for a disaster.

Since this is my first encounter with the title I don’t know how ambitious it is compared to the various versions released through the years, but there is a lot to do here. In typical fashion you compete in a World/Adventure mode to progress through the game and unlock treasures and other modes of play. There are escalating obstacles and play mechanics introduced in each new level. One that was particularly frustrating was a disembodied hand that would smash down to damage my pipes and require me to repair them. It took my attention away from the puzzle and by the time I got the repairs done my screen was covered in flooze. Luckily they weren’t all this merciless and most were actually quite clever. Un-lockable modes include Classic which contains all the levels of the original game and a Bonus Mode which throws puzzles at you in bite-sized portions.

Pipe Mania is challenging, and it could be because I’m new to the game but I found it harder to quickly calculate if a piece would fit than if I was playing a game of a Tetris. Not to compare this to Tetris but that is the gold standard when it comes to pick up and play puzzle games. There is also a bit of a learning curve at hitting the right place in the screen that you want to place your piece of pipe. I often found myself accidentally putting the piece one square above or to the right and destroying my thoughtfully laid out work. Of course these issues probably have more to do with me being new to the game than to the actual play mechanics, which are implemented very well. Even though I had problems I found myself coming back for more, which is a sign of a truly great game. I guess I have been missing out.

I have to believe any troubles I had were due to my inexperience with the game, judging by Pipe Mania’s success over the years I’m sure everyone else has got it down by now. This is a great port, and it’s dressed up about as nice as a puzzle game can be. It is deep and has lots of modes and levels for you to conquer. For $4.99 you really can’t ask for much more.

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iPhone Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

Pipe Mania screenshot 1 Pipe Mania screenshot 2 Pipe Mania screenshot 3 Pipe Mania screenshot 4 Pipe Mania screenshot 5
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