Electron User1st November 1988
Published in Electron User 6.02
Pipeline is set in the far future where in an effort to supplement the Earth's dwindling supplies of sulphur, a mining operation was established on lo - one of Jupiter's moons. However, recent volcanic activity has surrounded the robot-controlled mining platform with a sea of burning sulphur.
So desperate is Earth's need for the precious element that you have been despatched to lo to collect every single drum of sulphur and close down all four mining platforms.
Arcade adventure games have become something of a trademark for Superior Software - classics such as Ravenskull and the Repton series have proved popular with many Electron and BBC Micro users.
The dimensions of Pipeline make Repton look like a screen from PACMAN. If you were impressed when you first examined the map of Repton 3, prepare to be amazed by the Pipeline layout - each of the four levels is twice the size of a Repton scenario.
Ever conscious of the value for money that is offered by the budget software houses, Superior has beefed-up the Pipeline program into a top notch all singing, all dancing software package. Not only do you receive the best arcade adventure game on the market, you also get character and level designers and a mission generator. Superior is even offering to market the best original game created with these utilities.
At first glance, Pipeline very much resembles Ravenskull - the action is viewed from above while a space-suited hero scuttles around a beautifully drawn, yet frequently deadly, maze.As you appear at the start of level one it doesn't take long for you to realise that you have materialised inside a completely sealed compound. Ignoring this fact for the moment you begin rounding up sulphur drums.
By the time you have collected all the available sulphur you have also found a remote control unit and a set of blueprints. The remote control has little effect, but the blueprints teleport you to the inner reaches of the mining platform.
The "inner reaches" in which you appear just happens to be a room with two exits - the first guarded by a control robot, the second blocked with a locked manhole cover. It is at this point that you are expected to discover the significance of the remote control unit - it moves manhole covers.
Examination of your immediate surroundings reveals a distinct lack of sulphur drums - it is now time to enter the pipeline. This is a complex network of pipes through which the sulphur is normally pumped. Since the platform is no longer active it can be used as a means of getting from A to B - unfortunately you have no idea where position B is located.
Grasping your courage with both hands you step into the pipeline. Using multi-directional scrolling of breakneck speed the display traces your passage through the twisted network of pipes. If you are lucky the terminus will not consist of a bubbling sulphur pit or an oncoming fireball.
There are 16 different objects to be found in a maze, including mallets, space burgers, spanners, magnets, lasers, explosives, detonators and one control robot. As you might expect, Superior is very cagey as to the function of these objects, but I managed to find a use for a couple of them.
My initial guess at the use of the space burger was that it would reset the countdown timer - it didn't. In actual fact it gives you the ability to manhandle the large wooden crates. Using your new found strength you can access previously blocked pipelines, or trap moving fireballs within alcoves.
Following a 10 minute session of bashing everything in sight with the mallet, it was the crates that proved susceptible to its subtle persuasion. The explosives/detonator combination proved singularly ineffective in every location that I tried - except one. And even then I couldn't see what I had achieved by blasting the wall concerned.
Pipeline is a masterpiece of brain twisting entertainment. If Rubik ever turned his hand to computer programming he would produce something like this.