Wednesday, April 04, 2007

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Pipemania (Mobile)

Product Number: 123
Where can I buy it: Text ‘PIPE’ to 88188

Playing Pipemania is like stepping back to 1989 and enjoying a far simpler time. Gone are the various complex mechanics of most modern games, and in their place comes a simple premise which provides more entertainment than most button mashing console releases. Taking the role of a plumber even Mario would be jealous of your job is simple… to control the flow of water long enough to get through to the next level.

Of course this simplicity comes from original Pipemania (or Pipe Dreams for our US readers) which was released in 1989, and in many ways this is its spiritual successor. Play is remarkably simple and each level requires you to lay down a number of pipes which must connect to a central flow of water. The pipes you use are all manner of different shapes and new types are introduced as the game goes by to increase the variety.

To help keep the play tight and frantic a strict time limit is applied to each level and points are deducted for any pipes which are laid down that do not connect to the main flow of water. Rather ingeniously once the time limit runs out water starts flowing through your pipes but play continues and you can still lay pipes until the water falls out of the end of a pipe. Once you know these extra seconds are coming the possibility of last minute combos often proves all too alluring and the fantastic risk vs reward conundrum comes about (do you risk destroying a good pipe layout to get some extra points?). Later the game adds some twisted pipes that slow down the water to the mix and it’s at this point the creativity of the level designers really should be applauded.

Whilst your high scores are listed for every level there’s also a rafter of hidden modes which can be unlocked to further increase the games replay-factor. The first of these is ‘Puzzle” which is an even more focused and stripped down version of the main game. In this mode the focus is on laying down a predetermined number of pipes to connect from one end of the map to another. To give you some focus walls are used to guide where you can lay pipes and extra score points are dotted around to lure you in different directions.

Then there’s random mode which chucks a series of jumbled up levels at you with random pipes and asks you to get from the start pipe to the end pipe. In essence this is a real test of skill as you have to make the most of every possible piece and try to plan multiple routes to the goal although as with any game of this type there will always be times when the right piece just doesn’t seem to come. Or rather humorously it comes and you use it in the wrong place instead…

Last of all there’s the ultimate simplicity of classic mode which pits you and a timer against a random series of levels with no bombs or hazards to contend with. It’s the most relaxing version of the game and the water is at its slowest to give you time to think and plan large combos. Despite this the challenge is never lost and an end high score table helps to keep the competitive nature of the game going strong.

Although story mode can be criticised of being a little on the easy side (if you keep placing pipes the one you want is bound to come) it soon starts to become challenging with the addition on hidden bombs and ever increasing pipe quotas. And with the added challenge of puzzle and random mode you’ll be playing this for a long time to come.

Read more on Pipemania (Mobile):

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