Games with environmental appeal usually flounder. Mario Sunshine for example has been remembered with disinterest and while Rainbow Rapture was cute, it was also somewhat demented. So when I stumbled across Pipe Trouble at SXSW, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
When I read that music was provided by members of a band whose naughty name rhymes with ducked up, I figured there had to be something here.
Pipe Trouble is built around the classic Pipe Mania formula that many of you probably have forgotten about. Pipe Mania was the inspiration for Bioshock’s infamous hacking mini game and it is now the inspiration for Pipe Trouble. While it is hard to really deviate from that established formula, Pipe Trouble uses it’s personality to really flesh the game out.
As I said, this is an environmental piping game but instead of working off of the side of a fat cat industrialist or a dirty hippie, the game works to meld the two together. Doing environmental damage obviously ticks the hippies off. Usually nobody cares about angry hippies, but these are the proactive PETA loving environmentalist hippies. You don’t mess with these guys or they’ll protest your pipeline. Make them angry enough, they’ll blow the thing sky high.
That’s kind of the brilliance of the game. Everything lies in balance. The environmentalists will block your pipeline if you bulldoze enough trees or if you kill a poor little animal laying pipe. So you don’t want to do that. On the other hand, gas is pumping and you have to get the job done. You could try to navigate out of the game by going around and through trees, but you only have so much money on a project. While you might think that you have enough room to navigate around woodland creatures, you have to hope the pipe offered matches up. If it doesn’t, then you are burning cash to get rid of it.
This balance makes for a really interesting dynamic with Pipe Trouble. Here lies multiple levels of gameplay techniques on top of a simple formula. This makes for a nice bit of added complexity to gameplay from something that could potentially have been tedious as we saw in Bioshock’s case. The cutesy aesthetics and humor push it a step above.
Pipe Trouble released on March 10th for Android and iOS devices at the asking price of $1.99. A portion of all proceeds go to the David Suzuki Foundation.