Pipe Mania

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PC, PSP, PlayStation 2
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Empire Intertactive

About Sanford May

I'm a freelance writer living and working in Dallas, Texas, with my wife and three children. I don't just love gaming; I'm compelled to play or someone would have to peel me off the ceiling every evening. I'm an unabashed shooter fan, though I enjoy good games in any genre. We're passionate about offline co-op modes around here. I'm fool enough to have bought an Atari Jaguar just for Alien vs. Predator, yet wound up suffering Cybermorph for months until the long-delayed "launch title" finally shipped. If it wasn't worth the wait, you'll never convince me.

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NDS/PSP/PS2/Wii/PC/XBLA Preview - 'Pipe Mania'

by Sanford May on Sept. 2, 2008 @ 6:18 a.m. PDT

In Pipe Mania you must lay down a pre-ordained set of pipes on a tiled grid in order to keep the constantly flowing Flooze moving for as long as possible without it spilling out. The game requires quick thinking, hand-eye coordination, forward thinking and keen spatial awareness.

Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Empire Interactive
Developer: Empire Interactive
Release Date: September 30, 2008

Planned for the end of this month, Pipe Mania is expected to lead puzzle fanatics and nostalgia-gaming buffs into a cozy, if fast-paced and thumb-twitching, autumn. With a thoroughly updated Pipe Mania (also known as PipeDreams in the U.S.), Empire Interactive continues its mission in reviving and expanding upon classic puzzle titles. The new title, based on the casual computer game Pipe Mania, which was originally delivered in 1989, will be available for — deep breath here: NDS, Wii, PSP, PS2, PC, and Xbox Live Arcade.

Empire Interactive's PJ Snavely and Ben Wilkins participated in a press event in order to give gamers the inside track on what to expect from their game which will both upgrade and reinvent one of the all-time hits of puzzle gaming for today's popular gaming platforms. At first blush, tinkering with a much-beloved Pipe Mania seems to be a tall order. Not only has the central game design appeared on numerous legacy platforms and in several sequels and expansions, but in the intervening years, the Pipe Mania paradigm has cropped up in various seemingly unrelated games. (If you played BioShock for Xbox 360 or Windows PC or you're looking at it as a holiday must-have for your PlayStation 3, you'll know all about the game's "hacking" puzzles. All of those BioShock puzzles are rooted in Pipe Mania's design, albeit presented in a simpler form, artistically suited to the title in which they reside, and with unique rewards specific to the gameplay of that groundbreaking, critically acclaimed FPS.)

The whole point of Pipe Mania is to lay pipe in various shapes, to allow liquid to pass from point A to point B, around various obstacles, and without accidentally blocking your pipe structure or looping it back on itself. In the words of the new Pipe Mania's developers, this game is not a traditional puzzler, not a "stacker" based on something like random falling pieces, but a game that requires forethought. In Pipe Mania, you see the form and use of each piece coming up in the queue and, quite quickly, you must assess numerous branching scenarios, planning for the most efficient use of the next piece in the queue when it must be played. It seems simple enough, and it is, at first, but layouts of consecutive levels, or stages, become increasingly complex. It becomes even more stressful because a new, suitable piece of pipe must be laid at the end of the line before some rapidly moving liquid reaches it.

Differing from the original game, the new Pipe Mania will include new types and shapes of pipe, new modes beyond the traditional arcade mode and co-op, two-player mode. New modes planned are competitive play, a brand new story mode, a story mode called world mode, new challenges interspersed through the game, and a substantially greater number of levels (250 to 300 levels, dependent on platform, up from its predecessor's 64 or 128 levels). Arcade mode also differs in that it now features a never-ending series of puzzles you have to keep solving in order to keep advancing, which is the only way to keep playing in that mode.

World mode has been designed into the new Pipe Mania as a type of "trainer" for the game, to help offset the original title's daunting initial difficulty level. It's designed to be successfully completed by anyone who cares to put in a reasonable amount of time at it, and also to avoid a tedious, classroom-style experience. World mode introduces and describes Pipe Mania gameplay concepts in the context of a narrative story.

All of Pipe Mania original levels are present, with graphics updated to acceptably suit the contemporary home console, PC or handheld on which it will be played. Likewise, having originally been a game controlled with a computer mouse, Pipe Mania's control scheme has been individualized for each contemporary platform. The developers noted, for obvious reasons of the stylus's mouse-like control, the NDS version was the easiest control transition, while Sony PSP's unique gamer interface provided the greatest challenge; they are, however, confident that the PSP version of Pipe Mania will deliver a comfortable, intuitive and eminently playable control mechanic that sacrifices nothing for PSP owners.

Puzzler fans should look for the new multiplatform Pipe Mania, which is the ultimate edition of a true classic. It'll be a great short-session, pick-up-and-play title, perhaps while you're waiting in line or riding the train to work. Depending on your personal time investment and preference for this style of gameplay, Empire Interactive's Pipe Mania may well become your greatest wintertime obsession.

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