With a name like that, how could it not be good?
DSiWare has no shortage of puzzle games, with more added almost every week. Most of these games fall under the radar and never see real coverage. While a lot of them deserve that fate, there are good games among that group.
Working Dawgs: A-Maze-ing Pipes is one. Despite an atrocious name, it takes a simple, familiar concept and puts a little twist on it that kept me coming back for more.
The concept of connecting pipes from one point to another, one piece at a time, the basis of many games over the years, is the objective again here. You get a certain number of pieces at the outset, and navigate a board dotted with a number of obstacles between the faucet and drainpipe. Your inventory includes straight pipes and those at right angles, as well as others like cross pipes that allow flow in both directions. You can use wrenches to remove pipes that you’ve placed, or were already on the board, and add them to your inventory.
You play this game against a clock, which starts the water flowing when it runs out. If you get everything laid out early, you can turn it on yourself to receive an added bonus to your score. The one mechanic that, while unrealistic, provides a real hook for the gameplay, is that you actually get more points for each piece of pipe you lay, meaning it’s in your best interest to get to the goal in the most roundabout way possible. If you play the same level once, getting to the goal as quickly and efficiently as possible, and then again by using every piece you have available, the second time nets you a much higher score.
The game keeps itself interesting by making bigger and more complex levels, as well as introducing multiplier tiles that increase the score of every pipe set after the one that initially crosses them. Racing the clock to find the best way to hit all the bonuses and use every piece you’re given provides a good challenge, and I found myself playing levels over and over in order to perfect my route and increase my rank.
A few minor problems take away from the fun gameplay. My biggest complaint is that there’s no way to view a level before starting; many times, with particularly complex levels, I would end up playing several times without laying a piece just to get an idea of what I was working with. It’s also annoying that you can’t rotate a pipe piece after you’ve laid another, which can get you into situations where you have to use a wrench you needed elsewhere. The icon you have to tap to start the water early is also very small, and sometimes hard to hit, which can be frustrating when the points you lose because of it become the difference between silver and gold rankings.
Despite all that, though, Working Dawgs is a worthwhile puzzle game. The scoring system adds a layer of nuance to an old concept, and can hook you if you like going for the perfect run for the high score. Don’t let the awful, awful name make you ignore this good game.