Until I played Pipe Mania, I never realized how much of a slacker Mario really is. It is true that Mario has assumed the role of many occupations over the years, but you never see him doing any plumbing work, his true career. But if Mario never branched out into different job fields, he would probably be in a game like Pipe Mania.
Pipe Mania has been around for nearly 20 years now with ports on nearly every system. But no matter which version you play, one thing is a definite; plumbing is a messy and difficult job. It is kind of strange when you take a step back and analyze the concept of becoming a virtual plumber. Who would want to unclog a virtual drain when no one wants to do it in real life? Luckily, Pipe Mania is more of a puzzle game than an actual sink and toilet fixing sim.
You play as the kin to the previous head plumber on Duct Island. Because the previous plumber, your father, is worried about the well being of the island he puts you in charge of redirecting the icky green ooze to its proper place. Not that a game like Pipe Mania needs a plot to drive gameplay, but it is a fair attempt and displays the developers’ goal of creating an entertaining game.
The gameplay is simple. Connect different shaped pipes to guide ooze (dubbed Flooze) from its origin to the drain without any spillage. This is a lot easier said than done. The challenge of the game comes from the time limit and the randomness of each pipe piece. Later stages of the game even introduce other obstacles like reservoirs, random crap that blocks your path, and requiring a minimum amount of pipe that must be connected. Just like the versions of Pipe Mania before it, this enhanced remake still carries the heavy difficulty level.
Giving the game extra incentive, achievements can be used to unlock new game modes and other bonus content. This will surely keep the game in DS systems for a while. It is unfortunate, however, that this title lacks any semblance of a multiplayer mode. On the other hand, the PSP version does support two players. Why this mode wasn’t included in the DS version is quite a mystery. Luckily, the original Pipe Mania and several other modes are playable in this new DS rendition. But with a game like Pipe Mania, it is a shame that there is no option to create your own puzzles and swap them with a friend or even better, through the Nintendo WiFi Connection.
Built into the main menu is a tutorial option. While this mode will get players up to speed on the ins and outs of gameplay, the game never really tells you how to deal with pieces that you do not need. In fact, this is probably the game’s biggest flaw. Because each stage has such a pressing time restraint, it is hard to plan several pieces ahead. Instead of being able to swap or store certain pieces, the player must always lay down the piece that is next somewhere on the screen, even if there is no more room or it doesn’t fit anywhere, resulting with a penalty of a lower point total. Yes, this is the basis on putting this game into the puzzle genre, but sloppily dealing with each and every piece is a little too unforgiving.
Pipe Mania is an entertaining game, but it is sure to push your patience. The game has a ton of achievements to unlock along with many additional game modes to dabble in. Due to the overall design of this game, not having a puzzle editor or multiplayer mode is a bit of a let down. Not having the ability to store unwanted pieces for later use is more on the frustrating side, but this is really what gives this game its difficulty factor. Even though the overall package feels like it could have been so much more, there is still enough single player game to please DS players.