Down The Pipe

A few years ago, Davey Sludge and The Death Squad began to release a series of Spectrum games themed around toilets. The production quality of these titles wasn't high (although that didn't stop Retro Computers including them on the ZX Vega!) and I didn't find any of them much good. When they stopped, it was a welcome release (no pun intended) although they had found their share of fans, apparently. There's no accounting for taste.

Down The Pipe is an interesting variation on Davey Sludge's 'Turdesley' character. Designed with Jonathan Cauldwell's Shoot-'Em-Up Designer, it's a vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up in which you're in charge of a turd, working its way through the pipe system from the toilet through the sewers and presumably out into the deep blue sea.

It's monochrome, it's stupid and it's odd... However, you can't deny that it's got some of the best AY music you've ever heard, some awesome sampled sounds (Is that Timmy Mallet saying 'Ah yeah?!') and the fact that it's free is also a point in its favour.

The game itself is pretty standard shoot-'em-up stuff. It scrolls downward, and some waves of loo paper, bog brushes, bleach products and other nasties appear from the top of the screen rather than, as you might expect, from the bottom... making for quite a confusing playing experience. The area in which you can manoeuvre Turdesley is very tight, and every collision with a nasty (or the insides of the pipe) takes a few slabs off his energy bar.

Personally, I found it all a bit too vexing, and a bit too juvenile, to persevere with for long. The graphics are nowhere near as good as the music and I'm not sure whether Turdesley was actually being missed to the extent that he needed a shoot-'em-up spinoff. Still, it's a free, mindless blast that, whatever its faults, could never be accused of taking itself too seriously.