And Round Again
Make looped pipes in the sky until the lemon tree runs out of lemons or the snail with the clock says you're out of time. The preceding is not the result of too much allergy medication; it's a concise description of "And Round Again," a fun little game from Michi.nu which reminds me of several games I enjoyed in the late 1980s on my Mac.
The premise is simple. Various-shaped pieces of pipe appear on the screen. You place them and rotate them, trying to join them together to form closed loops. When a loop is made, it vanishes, and you score points based on the size and complexity of the loop. There's some serious tactical challenge here--do you go for the quickest, simplest loops you can make, or construct vast sprawling pink intestines, hoping to get the piece you need to close it off in time?
There are two challenges here. First, you have only a limited amount of time to place each piece of loop, as indicated by a clock on a snail. If the time runs out before you place it, it vanishes, and a lemon falls from a small tree. Three lemons down, and you're out. You can also lose by "running out of sky," making the screen so crowded that there's nowhere to place more pipe.
To add depth and fun, there are special pieces: expanders which stretch to fill gaps, morphing pieces which can change shape to fill your need, and "frozen" pieces which stay on the screen even after the loop they're part of has vanished. Sometimes these specials are helpful, and sometimes they're hindrances. So it goes.
The graphics are very simple, with much less flash and dazzle than, say, a PopCap game, but they convey information and get the job done. The game has the intellectual appeal of a puzzle game and the fast pace (at higher levels) of an action game, making it a fine diversion for casual gamers or people looking for something to play while on hold.
The game is traditional, old-fashioned shareware, meaning only your sense of ethics--not any timers or level limits--compels you to pay.
Note: The first time I ran Round and Round under Vista, I experienced a game-stopping bug; however, the bug could not be replicated after system restart, nor did it ever appear under XP. It may have been due to problems with my test system, as the developer has stated they haven't had reports of the behavior, either.