|Publisher: Virtual Programming Genre: Puzzle & Trivia|
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: G4 @ 800 MHz RAM: 256 MB|
It's been around twenty years since the original Pipe Mania was released for the Amiga. Since then, dozens of remakes have been released that haven't really added to the gameplay in any significant way. The most famous recent use of the title was the hacking game in BioShock, which took the original game and rendered it down to just the core mechanic of getting a fluid of some sort through a pipe. Now, Virtual Programming has released another remake of this classic for the Mac. Is it just another clone or does it wash in something of its own?
In this case, definitely the latter. This modern Pipe Mania is surprisingly complex at times and even brings in cooperative and competitive play. It's slightly hampered by the small number of people willing to play, but it remains extremely fun to play with friends. This is mainly due to the combative additions to the gameplay like special attacks and damage to your opponent's network. Of course, there's still quite an advantage to using a mouse vs. using the keyboard, but that's something that has hampered hotseat play for years.
The first and largest addition to the core Pipe Mania mechanics is the campaign mode. Each zone you explore in the quest for connecting the pipes of the world adds a special condition you have to deal with and tends to require some pre-planning to properly defeat. The largest example of this is the train zone. Your train has a start and an end, so it's possible to rearrange the track in a way that creates an infinite loop that you can then use to rack up tremendous amounts of score. This is required in order to beat a few of the levels and especially to get a gold star for all the levels of zone, so you'll have to learn fast.
You can also take a trip over to the electricity-themed zone. It hosts a "flooz" that shoots through the pipes faster than you can see with your naked vision and only slows down for the reservoirs that are either scattered across the map or added randomly to your piece queue. Due to the fact that you generally can't finish the entire course before the electricity races through it, you have to race the clock to get the path through as many reservoirs as possible to allow you to finish the course on time.
It doesn't stop there, though! You also get introduced to splitters later. These evil contraptions either take your stream and split it into multiple colors or take two streams and merge them into a single color. In either case, getting the pipes to cross over each-other or go around each-other in a way to make this possible takes a lot of planning and an extremely fast execution. Once those are added plus a couple other challenges like regular attacks being launched at you or multiple starting points for streams, the game gets downright difficult and extremely hectic.