Seeing as how Mario’s too big-time to do any plumbing these days, it falls to a fresh-faced unknown to get busy with the pipes and wrenches. What’s this young whippersnapper’s task (well, your task)? To guide a noxious substance known as Flooze from tap to drain by slotting segments of pipes into a grid.
The concept’s not exactly new – Pipe Mania first appeared in 1989 on the Amiga. A graphically updated version of the original is on this cart, while the story mode adds some variety (you can lay train tracks and electricity cables instead of pipes) and changes the rules – if the Flooze starts splurging out of an unfinished pipe you’ve now got a few seconds to get it back on track before it’s game over. The stylus is well suited to manipulating bits of pipe, but other than the novelty of reskinning the levels as railroads or the internet, this is essentially the same 20-year-old game.
That said, after a few levels – once new pipe parts are introduced and grid layouts get more complex – you’ll have learned to plan ahead, and then you’ll be caught up revisiting earlier levels to wring the maximum points out of them. Pipe Mania doesn’t immediately grab you in the way that puzzlers such as Tetris or Zoo Keeper do, but its focus on planning and lateral thinking slowly draws you in. Irritating bursts of music aside, this is a nicely presented and absorbing next step for puzzle fans who fancy a change from tile-sliding and colour-matching.
Sep 30, 2008