Hands on with the all-new Pipe Mania DS

Don't let the flooze flow free

Hands on with the all-new Pipe Mania DS
| Pipe Mania

How do you deal with a sequel like Pipe Mania? Originally released in 1989 for the Amiga, it's since been ported to pretty much ever other available console, even Xbox Live Arcade, selling over four million copies in the process. Indeed, the concept is so engrained in gaming folklore, it's turned up as a mini-games in the likes of BioShock and Resident Evil. But how to make its topdown Tetris-like manipulation of shapes and time relevant for a 2008 audience?

Empire Interactive's answer seems to be a mixture of something old, something new and something borrowed (as you can see in the video trailer).

As you might expect, the first tutorial level that we got a hands on (at the Leipzig Games Convention) was much like the original. You start off with a topdown level in which you have to connect the pre-located starting and finishing positions with the random pipe shapes you're provided with, one after the after.

The longer and more complex the pipe you make, the more points you'll get when – after a certain time delay – the green flooze begins flowing from its start point. Equally, you'll lose points for any pipe shapes you don't use and if your flooze leak meter fills up because you haven't completed your pipe in time, it's game over. Adding to the puzzle are special objects in the level, which generate extra points if you use them. Equally, there may be objects that force you take a route you wouldn't otherwise take, or boss characters who will try to mess up your pipe plan mid-game.

So far, so much old Pipe Mania.

Something new – at least in the World mode – is an overarching story, which sees you choose either a boy or girl avatar and set out save your father's home, the Isle of Ducts, and restore order from the various chaos-loving bosses who have taken over. It feels a bit tacked on, but considering the average age of the DS and PS2 audience is probably justified. Besides, there are the Arcade, Bonus and Classic modes for those us who are a little older.

Still, what should make Pipe Mania stand out are the different levels, which move on from the green flooze to other utility flows including the sewers and, more significantly, electricity, factory conveyor belts and railroad trains. These are more interesting because you end up simultaneously trying to direct multiple streams. For example, in one of the railroad levels, we had to lay down tracks for red and blue trains, which ensured one was sped up and the other slowed down so they didn't collide at a pre-positioned piece both had to cross in order to make it to their respective end points.

To that extent at least, our time with Pipe Mania was a little more frantic and a little more difficult than we had expected. But that extra challenge also resulted in more satisfaction when each level was completed. In addition, the way you unlock levels as you go means as you get better, you can go back and improve your point scores on levels you only managed to complete through the skin of your teeth.

Due out on September 26th for DS and PSP, we're looking forward to extending our plumbing tendencies with Pipe Mania.

Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.