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By Chris De Herrera 
Copyright 1998-2007
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Bob the Pipe Fitter Review 
By Allen Gall, Copyright 2002
Revised 2/19/2002

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Hexacto's promotional material describes their newest offering as a "wacky new game of concentration, skill, and pipe fitting." With Bounty Hunter Pinball and Slurp, this small Canadian company has shown a level of quality and attention to detail that has made them a notable addition to the small but growing stable of Pocket PC game developers. I fired up the game expecting it to be a flashy and colorful game along the lines of Pipe Dreams, territory albeit already covered by Ziosoft's 2000 release, Fun2Link.

I wasn't disappointed. Bob the Pipe Fitter is actually an interesting combination of Tetris and the aforementioned pipefitting game. Game play is of the simple-yet-addictive variety which made both of this game's spiritual forefathers so popular. You're a pipe fitter, and your task is to "fit" various shapes of pipes as they fall from above. Your goal is to arrange the falling pipes in such a way that they connect and remove themselves from the board before the "pile" reaches the top. At first, you will need to connect groups of four, but as the game progresses, the pieces will fall faster, and you'll be challenged to create links made of more pieces. There are also bonuses: if, after you've made a connection, the remaining pieces fall in such a way to make another connection, you'll get extra points, and you can make a "bomb" that will remove surrounding pipes by connecting four elbow-shaped pipes into a square. Fortunately, there's an in-game help screen which will tell you everything you need to know to get started.

Try to match the pipes before they reach the top of the screen!

As with Hexacto's other games, it's the finishing touches that make Bob the Pipe Fitter shine. The graphics are sharp and colorful, with a nice "3D" effect. The sound effects are clear and pleasant. The shape of your next pipe is indicated in the top right section of the display, and when you make a connection of two or more pipes, they turn blue. Probably the neatest thing about the game is the animated "boss" figure on the left side of the screen, who yells at you in a vaguely Italian accent and provides commentary on the quality of your work, often telling you to speed up and challenging you to make better connections. Fortunately, you can silence the boss if you find him annoying, or if you're playing the game in public and want to avoid getting any strange looks. His comments will still appear in captions. Part of any good game is spectacle, and these nuances in Bob the Pipe Fitter hearken back to the glory days of coin-op machines and the Commodore Amiga.

I did notice a couple of problems with the game on Pocket PC 2002 devices. On my Ipaq 3835, I was unable to map the controls to the directional pad. Also, I had difficulty entering my name after achieving a high score. However, Patrick Minotti of Hexacto informed me that these issues were being addressed.

Hexacto really couldn't have gone wrong by combining Tetris and Pipe Dreams. If you enjoyed the latter two games, Bob the Pipe Fitter will almost certainly bring a smile to your face. Bob the Pipe Fitter is available at all the major Pocket PC software distribution points, and the game sells for $12.95. Hexacto currently has a promotional deal that allows you to purchase this game along with Slurp, another puzzle game, for $19.95.

Allen Gall is a freelance game reviewer and the games editor for CEWindows.NET. If you have a game you'd like Allen to review, you can e-mail him at [email protected]

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