Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Submission #1995: Explosion Pills's NES Pipe Dream in 02:23.35

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Game name: Pipe Dream
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Pipe Dream (U).nes
Emulator: (unknown)
Movie length: 02:23.35
FrameCount: 8601
Re-record count: 560
Author's real name: Andrew Crites
Author's nickname: Explosion Pills
Submitter: Explosion Pills
Submitted at: 2008-05-30 02:33:51
Text last edited at: 2008-05-30 02:33:51
Text last edited by: Explosion Pills
Download: Download (2429 bytes)
Status: decision: cancelled
Submission instructions
Discuss this submission (also rating / voting)
List all submissions by this submitter
List pages on this site that refer to this submission
View submission text history
Back to the submission list
Author's comments and explanations:
Pipe Dream is an obscure puzzle game that requires quick reflexes to save the floor from the flooz (ok, there's no real story). I use frame-by-frame movements to set up the pipes for the flooz to flow through as needed and at maximum speed. The speed of the run is dependent upon how fast the flooz moves, so I play at max speed and select the turbo setting on the first frame in every level.


Game objectives

  • Emulator used: FCEU_16
  • Aims for fastest time
  • No deaths


Pipe Dream is a game that is apparently not very well known as is evidenced by its near absence from the internet. While it doesn't have the appeal of tetris, it is still an interesting puzzle game that requires fast reflexes and lots of planning. There are three game versions: A is sort of like training mode. You can only play limited levels and cannot alter the speed. Game C is a challenge game. You play one level and go for a high score. I choose game B, because you go through all 16 stages and you can modify the speed. I crank it up to speed 8, pick music 3 (which my sister who always hogged Pipe Dream NEVER let me pick!) even though you won't hear much of it, and go.

The point of Pipe Dream is to have the white goo in the pipes (called flooz) go through a certain number of pipes (abbreviated as DIST) before reaching the end of the last pipe or hitting a dead end. You can continue playing even after the DIST is zero to get a better score, but this wastes time.

Fast as Possible?

You are basically dependent upon the speed of the flooz, so I put it on turbo (press select) at the first possible frame in every level to ensure that the flooz reaches the end as soon as possible. I get through all 16 stages successfully. Similar to Super Mario Bros., Circus Charlie, and other NES games, this one starts over again at a harder version of level 1 after you complete the 16th stage.


It takes a frame to move the pipe. You can move it every other frame by "turboing" the directional buttons, which is humanly impossible. Holding the button down does move the pipe, but it has a huge lag after the first press as seems to be customary in similar games. Pipes are placed with A. This lags for about 30 frames (I didn't find out exactly because it is not important to speed). If you place a pipe on top of another pipe (cannot be done on a pipe with flooz in it) the original pipe explodes and the new pipe is placed. The exploding creates HUGE lag during which you cannot place more pipe.

At the end of the level, if there are any unused pipes, they are all exploded individually, which eats up time. Therefore, I make sure that every pipe in the line is used. Similarly, any bonus points gotten from crossovers costs time as well. I purposely go into the End pipe in one level (not necessary) just for kicks.

Every four levels, there is a bonus stage with an effective DIST of zero.

Pipin' Hot

This video is full of more fast-paced pipe placing action than you can shake a stick at. To keep things interesting, I try to pull off a lot of close calls (many of which were not on purpose) and feature the game's prominent glitches.


The game has two major glitches:

1. You can continue to move the cursor even after selecting to place a pipe. This is obvious even to a human player if you hold down a direction while pressing A, but it grants a huge advantage in frame-by-frame as you can move the cursor every other frame, which lets you move something like eight panels while the first pipe is still being placed. I use this pretty much constantly.

2. Seen at the very end of levels 14, and several times in 15 and 16. With frame-precision, if you place a pipe on top of a pipe that the flooz is just about to flow through (and is able to flow through), The pipe you are attempting to place disappears. This lets you get rid of pipe pieces without huge bomb lag or messing up your lines. I could have used this throughout the run, but I save it for the end to keep things interesting. Also, it is necessary at the end -- at least for my solutions.

Could a plumber do it?

Achieving what is done in this video requires frame precision. Sometimes, I make it to complete the line just in time while moving the cursor every other frame. I believe in level 9 and 16, there is a pipe that makes it into the line by one frame. With different pipes, easier (though not faster) patterns may be achievable, but as far as I can tell, the set of pipes is determined from power on. Nothing I did changed the order of the pipes within or between levels (though since it is unimportant, I didn't try very hard).


  • Levels 2, 4, 10, and 13 were easy to make.
  • Levels 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 15, and 16 gave me some trouble.
  • You may notice in lv 9, I need a left-to-down piece desperately for most of the puzzle, and at the very end, I get three in a row..WTF??

This movie is fast-paced, cool looking, and quite short! Well, hope you agree.

  • By the way, turning on turbo makes an awful sound, so I recommend watching this movie with sound off.

Similar submissions (by title and categories where applicable):