== Nixon Computer ==

GAME CLEAR No. 171 -- Plumbers Don't Wear Ties: Definitive Edition

video games game clear limited run games 3do ps5 playstation

Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties: Definitive Edition (2024, Multiplatform)

Remaster of: Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties (1993, 3DO/PC)
Original Developer: United Pixtures
Original Publisher: Kirin Entertainment
Remaster Developer: Limited Run Games
Remaster Publisher: Limited Run Games
Clear Version: PS5
Clear Platform: PS5
Clear Date: 6/3/24


Why should I care?
Sometimes you gotta play the shitty games that suck ass.

Take your damn clothes off!

Look, if you don’t already know about Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties, I can think of no better introduction than the episode of Angry Video Game Nerd devoted to the game. It’s almost certainly how most people that do know about it found out about it, and it’s also probably fair to say it’s the reason this remaster even happened. And honestly, man? That’s wild.

Of course, it’s also because Limited Run Games’s CEO Josh Fairhurst went out and bought the damn IP so he could make this shit in-house. That’s also crazy! But I have to imagine he wouldn’t have taken such a bet if James Rolfe’s AVGN episode had not raised awareness of this game by probably orders of magnitude.

I highly recommend watching that video. I’m not going to make much of an attempt to capture the indescribable in this post; Rolfe has done the work for me. Even if AVGN really isn’t your thing, you owe it to yourself to see just how bizarre Plumbers is. And for what it’s worth, the rest of this post is kind of going to assume you did either that or watched a longplay.

As I mentioned in my post about E.T. for 2600, it’s sort of absurd to talk about the “Worst Game of All Time” in a world where the floodgates have burst open due to lax release policies of modern storefronts. Steam, in particular, is simply inundated with porn games. And in that light, Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is sort of an interesting precursor.

See, unlike SEGA and Nintendo consoles, the 3DO had extremely developer-friendly licensing fees for games sold on the platform. This meant weird shit like this was a less risky proposition to put on the console. Combine that with its CD-ROM drive that permitted storage and playback of (relatively) high-resolution images and full-motion video, and you suddenly have a potential market for an “adult” gaming platform.

So director Michael Anderson and his cast made this utterly bizarre product for the doomed console. It’s difficult to imagine anyone achieving any sort of arousal by way of this game’s insane softcore porn angle, but it does seem like that’s genuinely what they were going for. With a plot, pacing, and characters that make The Room look like Citizen Kane, it really just has no redeeming qualities other than being deeply, deeply odd.

If you know what you’re doing, you will make a grand total of eight choices in this ~35-minute “visual novel” (or interactive slideshow, if you prefer). That’s the power of CD-based gaming! While the shitty porn games clogging the Steam library are easy enough to filter out by way of user reviews and the like, it’s easy to see how limited retail space taken up by garbage like this might’ve contributed to torpedoing public perception of the 3DO.

Yet of all the scant 3DO games to be playable today, this is one. I think that’s partially because of all the actual, visible humans involved. Yeah, there’s tons of slop on Steam now, but seeing the faces of the real people that worked on and acted in this game adds a level of intrigue. Everyone was like “yeah this is a cool and normal thing to be making.” And you can see them. There’s tons of dreadful games that have been made largely anonymously. Not so here.

And as I’ve already alluded to, this Definitive Edition is obviously also product of virality, which all things considered is still a very new social concept. I think a lot about how people like AVGN, perhaps without intending to, helped form oft-repeated narratives regarding ’80s and ’90s video games. Although I’ve not played it myself, I’ve seen some argue vehmently that the negative reputation he helped create for Castlevania II is undeserved. Meanwhile, his horrified highlight of this largely forgotten game saw it brought back in fully playable form and with retrospective interviews to boot.

I don’t really have a point or thesis on that matter, it’s just something I chew on. My interest in this game is possibly more of an engagement with my nostalgia for Angry Video Game Nerd than with the history of the medium or curiosity about the 3DO or whatever usual bullshit I would play this sort of thing for. And that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with that. It just makes me think. :)

Frankly, I still don’t know if it was worth my time to play through this game myself when I already saw pretty much everything that was worth seeing in the AVGN video — but I do know that poring over the features unique to this Definitive Edition is time well spent. The bonus galleries include dozens of images and deleted scenes as well as a litany of interviews from the developers of this remaster, star Jeanne Basone, and other games history talking heads (including Rolfe himself). It’s clear Fairhurst and Co. wanted to tackle this as a genuine preservation product. Say what you will about the value of that, but I think behind-the-scenes looks are always a worthy endeavor. It’s certainly more than we got with the recent, full-priced remasters of great games like Metroid Prime and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. I know I’m back on my bullshit when I say this, but that’s a shame.