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Pipe Dream (PC) artwork

Pipe Dream (PC) review

"While it lacks the elaborate back story of a Mario game (omg savu tha princez??!??!), Pipe Dream provides a solid time wasting experience for those tired of Solitaire and Bejeweled."

Mario is the video game world’s most famous plumber. However, in all of his years of starring in wildly successful blockbusters, he actually hasn’t done any plumbing. I’m sure this lack of viewing Mario’s plumber crack greatly disappoints the Nintendo fans I regularly post to on message boards, but the world is no doubt a safer place with one less gassy Italian stench clouding the air.

Since Mario is strangely absent from the plumbing game genre, the onus falls squarely upon Pipe Dream, a quirky puzzle game that comes preinstalled on many Windows PCs. While it lacks the elaborate back story of a Mario game (omg savu tha princez??!??!), Pipe Dream provides a solid time wasting experience for those tired of Solitaire and Bejeweled.

Unlike some other puzzle games, you do not control adorable dinosaurs, blue blobs with creepy eyes, or a multicolored beach ball. Like Tetris, you’re just controlling the action; you don’t have an on-screen persona, thus neglecting us of a sweaty hairy plumber type. You lay pipe (teehee!) in a sewer system, directing the flow of toxic waste. This type of waste is generally produced by Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez in the form of productions like Glitter and Gigli.

Yet I digress. The pipes come in various shapes - think of intersection signs. There are four ways, elbow curves, and one lane straight-aways. Strategically placing the pipe allows the neon green slime to ooze through. After you divert enough of the flow, it stops and you move on to the next level. As you advance through the levels, the sludge comes out faster, and obstacles which you can’t place pipe over stand in your way. The fun ends when the ooze outruns the pipe, or if you plan improperly; i.e. a toxic flow into the walls or already built pipe. The longer you survive, the more points you receive.

Like most puzzle games, a seemingly simple concept is much more difficult and addictive in application. Make sure your mouse is clean, because you’ll need free and easy movement to drop the pipes into their correct place. Planning is vital since pipes can not be spun around as in Tetris. The state you receive the pipe in must be the same as when it is laid down. Old pipes can be built over as long as they do not contain slime already, but doing so incurs a penalty to your score.

Since planning is an important aspect of Pipe Dream, there are special features that aren’t often seen in other puzzle games. Instead of showing just the next pipe to be played, several are shown, allowing you to plot accordingly. Also, because of the nature in which the game is played, there is a delay at the start of a level in the flow of the ooze. Otherwise, it would just start immediately, ending each game in seconds.

There are two issues which prevent me from elevating Pipe Dream to the upper echelon of puzzlers with Tetris. There are too many “beginner” stages. Expect to complete about eight stages before breaking a sweat. A fast forward button helps to lessen the time spent in these stages a bit though. The other problem is that Pipe Dream seems to get old and repetitive fast. An endless or time trial mode would have helped out immensely. Both problems are relatively minor though, and should not cause too much strife. Or gonads, for that matter.

As you have probably guessed, Pipe Dream is not a technologically impressive game. Puzzle games are notorious for a lack of eye candy, as are old freeware games. There is plenty of green and white, with some brick patterns to “spice” things up from time to time. The music consists of whatever you decide to play in the background. This suits me fine, since I have infinitely more taste than some geek lurking around with a C+ book.

Take Pipe Dream at face value - a fun little puzzle game to play while downloading and listening to MP3s, due to its light toll on system resources. In this context, Pipe Dream is incredibly easy to load up and play. Indulge in this little known puzzle classic and you won’t be sorry!

sgreenwell's avatar
Staff review by Stephen Greenwell (August 30, 2003)

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