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Pipemania logo  Zzap! Sizzler

Empire, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99
Pipemania Aren't pipes wonderful things? You can smoke them, play them to make beautiful music, and pump water, gas, and sewage down them (although these activities are not recommended with the same pipe!).
In Pipemania however, you must simply join them together. Straight bits, bendy bits, crossovers, ones which only flow one way: they all must be assembled into as long a pipeline as possible for the yellow gunge which emanates from the 'start' pipe to flow through.

Sounds easy enough. The trouble is, your pipeline must stay within the confines of the screen. And you don't even get to choose which pipe section to use next. A supply of random sections scrolls down in a window to the left of the play area: you must use the one at the bottom in order to access the nest. If you've placed a piece in the wrong place, you can 'bomb' it by laying a new section on top – though this incurs a 50-point penalty.

Obviously, you need a few seconds to prepare any pipe at all, so at the start of each round there's a short time allowed before the gunge emerges. When you've laid a very long pipeline you can even make the gunge flow faster for double points. The round ends when the gunge reaches the end of the pipe. To get to the next round you must make the gunge flow through the required number of pipe sections. Don't go laying pipe recklessly though; 100 points are deducted for each unused section laid.

In some rounds there are also deadly obstacles such as fish (?!) to avoid, plus bonus pieces (for extra points if the gunge flows through them) and reservoirs which take a while to fill, giving you extra time. There may also be gaps in the playing area wall – when gunge flows through one, it reappears from the opposite side of the screen (providing you've got a pipe there!).

Every four rounds you're given a password (to return you to this point if you die) and you get a go at the bonus level. Here, pieces appear in turn at the top of the screen – press fire to make them drop, hopefully creating a long pipeline from the start-piece at the bottom of the screen.

For novices there's an easy Trainer mode, while professional plumbers can play on Expert level where there are two (differently coloured) section supplies to choose pieces from. There's also a Competitive two-plumber mode in which both players plumb simultaneously, each having his own separate section dispenser and score.

Zzap, Issue 60, April 1990, p.p.16-17

Scorelord Pipemania is one of those games you really have to play to believe how addictive it is. A mere one life to complete four levels of the game before getting that all-important password is just so sadistic – we really must have a challenge on this game soon. The number of times I've nearly blown a circuit when I've died on the fourth in a series of levels is beyond counting. If I knew where programmers, Assembly Line, were based I'd reduce them to hamburgers in seconds! But you just keep coming back, because it's so enjoyable to play. Unlike most puzzle games the emphasis is on arcade reflexes as much as thinking, as each new piece comes up the rush to place it somewhere is frantic. And when you've got two people playing… well, Phil) the thieving, selfish, protoplasmic slime) is still talking in a whisper after I very nearly throttled him for ruining one of my lines. 'Co-operation' he kept on saying, before replacing my pieces so he could get the most points!
As for differences between the two versions, the Amiga has a much greater variety of graphics, not that they're particularly stunning or useful considering the price. The C64 makes do with some tastefully restrained graphics that do without any multiload irritations. In short, this is an utterly fiendish game that no Commodore owner should be without. Forget shoot-'em-ups and beat-'em-ups: this game is going into the arcades, and once play it you'll know why. Buy it now!

Robin Hogg I've had so much fun playing Pipemania. The perplexing, pipe-placing action is so incredibly addictive, and even when you lost it's not that frustrating – the action is so panic-inducing you usually end up laughing at all the stupid mistakes you've made under pressure. Two-player games are even more fun, and although competitive you really need some degree of cooperation to stand a chance – Phil and The Scorelord kept bombing each other's pieces and ended up with woefully low scores! The excellent bonus levels add extra variety, while the password system allows you to get further through the levels with each attempt. With its fast arcade action Pipemania is more than just another puzzle game and will appeal to all gamesplayers.

Phil King This is the best puzzle game since the classic Tetris. The concept is simple, but fiendishly difficult to master as you construct a huge spaghetti junction of pipes, frantically trying to outrun the dreaded gunge! The graphics aren't that impressive but they're clear and serve their purpose well; as does the gradually accelerating 'one note jam' sound on the Amiga, while C64 sound is limited to tunelets and sparse but informative FX. Unlike many other puzzle games, Pipemania isn't limited to the same style of screen: for getting onto higher level you are rewarded with not just different graphics but lots of extra features. The excellent expert and two-player modes are the icing on the cake. Brilliant.


Lots of options including useful password system and brilliant simultaneous two-player mode.
Well designed for maximum clarity. A bit lacking in variety, though.
Nice assortment of spot FX and tunelets.
Let me have another go!
Excellent two-player mode will keep interest high (as well as causing loads of arguments!).

An amazingly addictive puzzle game.


Same as C64.
Functionally clear with more variety than C64.
Panic-inducing 'one not jam' sound, adequate FX.
Er… it's a bit addictive!
The emphasis is on fun rather than frustration, so the appeal is long lasting.

If plumbing's this much fun, we can't wait for the next burst pipe!