Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is quite a unique… stain on the gaming industry. It’s a visual novel adult oriented comedy that first released way back sometime in 1993 for Windows, however the game was available is very limited quantity. A year later, during Q3 1994, the game debuted on the failed Panasonic 3DO gaming console and has been dubbed one of the worst games (if you can call it that) of all times. I still get a kick of the AVGN episode about it. Fast forward to 2021, Limited Run Games decided for some reason (game preservation would be a good reason) to revive this unique piece of multimedia of the 1990s. Did time help redeem this game? Let’s find out.

Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties: Definitive Edition is set in the early 1990s in Los Angeles, where our two protagonists, John, a plumber and Jane, are being pressured by their parents to meet someone, settle down and start a family. Their days start off innocently where John’s mom is insisting he goes on a date with the woman she set him up with. On the other side of things, Jane, seen as a daddy’s girl, is discussing with her dad as she gets ready for a job interview. And then faith intervenes where both John and Jane run into each other in the same parking and the man instantly falls in love with her. Will they end up together, going their separate ways or will Jane’s day be ruined? It’s up to you to decide!

As mentioned above, Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties: Definitive Edition is a visual novel experience where players are required to make choices at certain point in the game in order to guide both characters’ path. A nice touch here is that if your choice leads down a dead end, the narrator (either a dictator look-a-like or a crazed karate woman) will give you a chance to go back to the decision in order to make a different choice. This is a beneficial as most visual novel will boot you back at the start to begin anew.

Once you’re done with the “story” (I use that term loosely), you can tackle a fun little labyrinth where you’ll be chased by the creepy employer who’s interviewing Jane. As you explore the maze, you’ll pick up toilet plungers you can use to throw at the creepy man. If he catches you, you’re “dead”, but the plunger allows you to prolong your experience. You can only pick up 3 at a time. Also while doing the story, you’re awarded in-game currency you can use to purchase/unlock mini documentary like videos about this game.

While the game is a visual novel, it has more of a FMV visual because instead of anime characters, it’s real people. But instead of experiencing a movie like experience like Wales Interactive’ masterpieces, this game progresses through image stills. Both the narrator and in-game characters will drive the story by explaining what is going on and well the conversation between characters based on your decisions. And yes, the game looks 90s as hell… and it’s even bad for 90s visuals. And yes, the voice acting is somehow even worst and less believable. There’s even a sequence where they clearly forgot to turn off the mic as you hear casual mocking banter.

So what are the problems here? Well aside from the horrible voiceover work, cringey 90s visual and over the top, unnecessary risqué shots, pretty much everything I’d say. Consistency is also a problem; as the game begins there’s a montage showing the two protagonists taking a shwoer in their respective homes. While John, it looks normal (whatever normal is for this game and was in 90s), Jane can apparently take a shower and wash herself without water. That’s quite a feat.

Even after finally experiencing this for myself, I keep asking if it was a real, serious project or a joke from day 1. It’s really difficult to some extent to judge something from the 90s that was already bad then, and try to give it a fair assessment given all the progress we’ve made. If you enjoy the genre and/or are curious about a product that was even questionable to its time, Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties: Definitive Edition is definitely worth the investment just to experiment it for yourself. And honestly the labyrinth mini-game is actually pretty fun while the mini-documentaries are quite insightful. Game preservation should definitely consider really bad games, but whether you’re curious enough to see what the hoopla is about is on you.

  • 50%
    CX Score - 50%



  • Game preservation for life
  • Hilariously bad


  • Cringe-y bad
  • Nothing makes sense
  • Isn’t flattering of the 1990s

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