i haven’t played any game boy games this year, and i’ve been meaning to play pipe dream for a while because its core gameplay has made an appearance in other games, such as bioshock (where it appeared as a mini-game when you’re hacking machinery), and the 3DSware title mario and donkey kong. the original game was apparently called pipe mania and first appeared on amiga in 1989 and was then ported to many different platforms, including NES, but i had a copy of the game boy version which is probably pretty similar.
the gameplay is probably familiar to most people and is easy to pick up: join a random assortment of pipe pieces together to control the flow of “flooz”, a presumably toxic substance. at first i thought the goal was to get the flooz to the edge of the screen, but this isn’t the case. instead, you have a target number of pieces to join together in each stage. the point system is well balanced: bonus points are awarded for going over the minimum requirement, making loops, using tunnels that go from one side of the board to the other, and using certain pieces (either of a certain type such as pipes where flooz can only flow one way or pipes that are pre-set on the board), and points are deducted for pieces you have left over on the board, or if you substitute a piece for one you’ve already placed (and doesn’t already have flooz flowing through it). there are five difficulty levels, which is simply defined by how many upcoming pieces you can preview, and three types of music. every fourth stage you beat you’re awarded with a little cutscene of a cute little worker fixing a pipe, and a four-letter password. stages get progressively harder with more pieces pre-set on the board and higher requirements to complete the stage, but otherwise it’s just more of the same core pipe-laying action.
there’s not much more to say about the game. it’s an innocuous little time waster, and making loops and otherwise racking up points is fairly satisfying. it doesn’t rank among my favorite puzzle games ever, but it’s quite well balanced and fairly enjoyable overall. apparently a version was released on DS that adds enhancements, such as pieces that are angled in two directions and pieces you can add other pieces on top of, and that sound like it would polish the gameplay even more, but after spending a couple of hours on this game i don’t really feel the need to spend much time with its successors.
control the flooz with these pipe dream links:
– FAQ at gamefaqs with details on the scoring and passwords
– entry on wikipedia
– nintendolife’s review of the version that appeared on DS