Game Review: Pipe Dream
Pipe Dream

Pipe Dream Title Screen

  • Publisher: Bullet-Proof Software
  • Developer: LucasArts/Distinctive Software
  • Released: September 1990
  • Game Type: Puzzle
  • Players: 1 or 2 Simultaneous
  • Product Number: NES-4P-USA
  • Rarity: B (Rare)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 8

    Box Scan
    Pipe Dream Screen 1 Pipe Dream Screen 2

    Pipe Dream is a puzzle game that's familiar to PC users. Originally conceived by LucasArts, it has appeared across many different platforms under many different names. The NES got their own version of this game courtesy of Bullet-Proff software, but how does it measure up on the Gray Box?

    The game's premise is simple. You're an employee at a generic plumbing company and you've been put in charge of a strange white chemical known as flooz. It's your job to keep the flooz from flodding the area by building a pipeline for it to flow through as long as you can.

    The game consists of over 64 levels, and the object of each level is to build a pipeline for the flooz by laying down one pipe segment at a time, trying to create one long continuous pipe. Each level is setup like a gird, and when you begin you see the start piece from where the flooz is going to come out of. You have to start laying down pipe pieces by basically stamping them onto the playfield, and you can place a pipe anywhere on the gird. The pipe pieces come in several formations: straight pipes, elbow pipes, and crossbars. The computer deals them out in random order, though you can see the next five pieces to come on the screen. After several seconds the flooz will start flowing out from the start piece, and once it starts it will not stop. Each level has a minimum amount of pipe pieces the flooz must flow through for you to advance to the next level, so you have to keep the flooz moving by extending your pipeline with the pieces you get. Remember the pieces cannot be rotated, so you have to really think about how to place them. Every piece the flooz goes through gives you points, and you get bonus points if you use the crossbar to make a loop (causing the flooz to go through the crossbar twice). If you get a piece you can't use, you can place it to the side and connect to it later. You can also replace a pipe piece you laid down by sitting another on top of it (refered to as "blasting" the pipe) but you get deducted 50 points evey time you blast a pipe, plus it takes several seconds for the switch to be made. Once the flooz reaches the end of the pipeline, the round ends and you recieve ny bonus points you earned. However you also get penalized for every piece on the playing field that you didn't use. If you managed to reach the minimum distance, you move on to the next level, but if not, you lose a life (a wrench) and have the do the level over.

    As you get to the later levels, you start getting some special pipe pieces, such as one-way pipes (indicated by an arrow). Some stages also have reservoirs, which slows down the flooz for a brief time, pumps, which cause the flooz to tempoarily speed up, and tunnels which allow you to wrap around to the other side of the board. In addition some stages have end pieces you can build toward for double the bouns points, but remember you must still meet the required distance. At any time (preferably when you already have the minimum distace) you can also press SELECT to shoot the flooz out at top speed. It ends the level quickly but any pipe the flooz goes through in the fast mode nest you double points. After every four levels you take part in a Tetris-like bonus round, where you're dropping pieces down fromt eh ceiling to make the pipeline. This game does let you set several options before you begin, such as game type (normal, tournament or one-shot), game speed and starting level. Two players can also play simultanteously; you both lay down pipes at the same time and you can either play cooperatevly (work together to lay down the pipeline) or competitively (try to get the higher score).

    Graphics & Sounds:
    Like most puzzle games, the graphics of Pipe Dream aren't very elaborate but they get the job done. You only see the playfield and the pipes, but the pipes do have a nice look to them and the colors change with every level. It's also easy to see the flooz flowing through the pipes so you're never lost on where it's going. Just like the visuals, the game's audio isn't special but still adequate. You can choose from three types of background music, and while the second tune isn't fun to listen two, the first and third tunes actually sould pretty good and manage to fit the game action (you can also turn the background music off). The warning music that plays when the flooz starts geting close to busting of your pipeline is also nice. The sound effects, such as the boom of pipes being blasted, are also pretty decent.

    Not much to say about the controls. Just move the marker around and push A to drop the pipe piece. (The B button is not used at all). The controls are simple to use so there's no problems here.

    Challenge & Playability:
    The major part of any puzzle game is the gameplay, and Pipe Dream does not dissapoint. The game is a blast to play. It's simple design makes it easy to get into and it also has a good learning curve. The first few levels are pretty easy, allowing beginners to find their legs, but before long the cart gets challenging, espiecially when the flooz starts flowing more rapidly. The later levels will definetly strain your brain, forcing you to think ahead, and many times you'll have to improvise. The levle select feature is a nice touch, allowing puzzlemasters to go to the tough levels right away. This game also has that addictive charm and offers different ways to go about it; you can either try to move through the stages quickly or go for high scores using the different methods of getting bonus points. Sometimes the game can get frustrating, especially when you can't seem to get the piece you desparately need in the higher levels and you have no way of saving yourself. The two player mode is a nice touch as well, though it can get confusing at times.

    In the end Pipe Dream proves to be another great puzzle game in the NES line. This game is fun, addictive, and features simple gameplay that anyone can get into, but also features differnet skill levels to challenge both novices and experts. The variety of ways to play and the randomness ensures you won't get bored with it pretty quickly. Plus trying to devise complex pipelines never gets old. Bottom line is this is a puzzler that NES gamers sould definetly check out and not flush away.

    - Review posted on January 31, 2007