Procedural Pipes: Tiny Plumbers

the red is blood. mostly snail blood.

Beep, bloop, boppity-beep goes the music. Jump, splat, zap go the Tiny Plumbers. Goombas didn’t burst into a shower of garish red pixels when Mario jumped on their bonces but otherwise, a quick look at this odd little indie platformer could have you thinking it’s little more than a tired spoof. There are even different suits to change into, pipes to travel through and princesses to rescue. However, beyond the obvious references, which are not simply aesthetic, there is plenty to discover. Most importantly, it’s not obvious from the trailer that the levels are procedurally generated. And wait ’til the sky police chase the hovering plumber, their sirens/screams drowning out everything and betokening doom.

It’s yet another game that’s still in alpha, with a $5 preorder giving access to this and all future builds. The final release will cost $10, making an early purchase equivalent to five entire dollars materialising in your pocket. Perhaps I should also tell you that the game is from RobotLovesKitty, who made Neverdaunt 8Bit. Yes, I will tell you that.

The controls feel a little loose but I think this is shaping up quite nicely. There aren’t enough procedurally generated platformers so they all remind me a little of Spelunky and then I’m happy for the rest of the day. I just wish there was a demo. I always wish there was a demo.


  1. Emmanuel says:

    Yay, fake extra pixelated Mario Bros

  2. kyrieee says:

    I’m a sucker for indie platformers but this doesn’t look like a 10$ game :S

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Neither does VVVVVV or Super Meat Boy. But they sure play like it. And Terraria looks like it should be free but plays like it should be $30. And that’s why you don’t judge Indie platform games on looks alone.

  3. psyk says:

    Once this sort of thing used to be free :(

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Now come on, those extra-fat pixels don’t grow on trees you know.

      Thankfully, they are still free if you look in the right places (legally).

    • MadTinkerer says:

      This sort of game was never free. Except maybe Spelunky, briefly.

      Procedurally generated text based Roguelikes based on existing code bases and maintained as a hobby/exercise? Yes, those are free.

      Non-procedural flash/other existing engine platform games with maybe one new mechanic which are made and not maintained because they don’t require maintenance? Yes, those are free.

      Procedurally generated platform games that require you to invent new algorithms for each mechanic, come up with all the code and art assets yourself, and maintain them for an indefinite period of time? Why the FUCK should they be free?

      An old junky car bodged together from existing designs and parts in a garage as a class exercise is something that shouldn’t come with a hefty price tag. A car engineered from scratch is something that should come with a hefty price tag. Otherwise, go over to a car dealership and complain that “that sort of thing used to be free”.

    • Harlander says:

      So procedural content generation + graphics is the threshold point which justifies charging for something?


      (I’d have gone with the more general-purpose “being able to get people to pay for it justifies charging for it” myself.)

    • jrodman says:

      I’d say the stone soup model seems often more viable than the small bussiness model for this kind of project.

      Really, is someone going to make this kind of thing their day job? If so, I’ll be both shocked and impressed.

  4. fuggles says:

    I find this slightly confusing. They are clearly homaging mario in the name and every enemy type (shells, blocks, bullets oh my!) but by making it procedural will create some, I imagine at best mildy entertaining levels. If you compare this to Mario where every level has been crafted, tested and refined and the project goal seems to be making a worse mario game.

    I guess my view is that you shouldn’t try to ride the coat tails of something when you don’t have to. Be proud of your own work, and please can we move on from rubbish retro 8 bit graphics now? There were some lovely 16 bit graphics. Part of why Spelunky is great is because of the rules and the game, not just that it is procedurally generated.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Spelunky’s mechanics also give it some of the Nethack magic for dealing with procedural difficulty spikes, like bombs and ropes and quite a lot of player agility with the right items.

      Also it actually looks nice. This isn’t pixelart; this is just lazy.

    • Doctor Nil says:

      Actually, this gameplay trailer does it a lot more justice. Not bad actually, not bad at all!

    • George Foreman says:

      Doctor Nil that was evil!!

      Also, what I played of the game wasn’t too bad for $5. The only issues I had with the game were with the aforementioned floaty jump physics, the randomness of trying to fly with the cat suit, and how the bullets were a tad bit too powerful (there’s no way to get rid of them other than dying and then passing them up).

  5. changjing says: