Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties: Definitive Edition Review – Finding Joy in the Terrible

If you’re a gaming historian or someone who was into gaming commentary channels on YouTube in the early 2010s, you’ve heard of some pretty obscure titles. Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is more than likely one that lives in your head rent free if you had the (mis?) fortune of watching anything on it. Or maybe you’re a rare case and owned a 3DO and its entire library. I won’t judge.

Like a B-movie stuck in the bottom of your local video store’s dollar bin, the game had remained elusive for decades. With its release console being difficult to come by and unbelievably expensive ever since release (it was $699 on day 1), many could not get their hands on the “worst game of all time”. Outside of a DOS file that took a lot of work to make available, it was next to impossible to play this game.

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But now, thanks to Limited Run Games, the game is now accessible to all in a remastered format. In a move that I, for one, never saw coming. After years of letting my curiosity about this game dwell in the back of my mind, I finally had the chance to play it, all in wonderful 4K. Does that mean the game itself is wonderful? That’s an answer I embarked on finding.

How We Got Here

Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties was an adult-oriented FMV (full motion video) adventure game made by United Pixtures in the early 90’s. Hailed by some as “the worst game ever made,” it was released in 1993 and eventually faded into obscurity. That is, until the early 2010’s, when James Rolfe resurrected its public interest. Many people who frequented YouTube in those days are surely familiar with the Angry Video Game Nerd. Which, in case you aren’t familiar, AVGN is a web video series known for highlighting some of the worst games in history.

To make a long story short, his infamous Nerd character broke down the title, and brought it to forward in the gaming zeitgeist in the process. His video has currently amassed 9.5 million views, to put it into perspective. Never before have so many people wanted to play such a terrible game. Despite demand though, this DIY experiment spent years without an official re-release. That is, until Limited Run Games acquired the rights and took it upon themselves to give it one.

You can actually watch multiple videos about the game’s history in the special features.


Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties follows John and Jane. John is a plumber whose mother has been trying to get him to settle down and have children so she can be a grandmother. Jane is a currently unemployed lady looking for a job while her father is on her case about the same thing as John’s mom.

On a fateful day, they meet outside of the office Jane has an interview at. It claims to be a romantic comedy, and depending on your definition of either of those descriptors, it fits the bill. Regardless, it is definitely entertaining. In this story, it is up to you to make the decisions that lead to the potential couple’s resolution. Will they fall in love, or will they go their separate ways? It’s all unpredictable, it’s hammy, and it’s definitely special.

Pick a Path – the Gameplay

As I stated in the introduction, this is a “choose-your-own adventure” (I loosely use that term) title. That leaves the gameplay to be beyond simple. Think of it as the great grandfather of Telltale’s adventure games like The Walking Dead, if you’re generous.

As the characters’ story plays out, you’ll make each of their choices. Don’t worry about picking the wrong one, because the director will interject if you mess up. After being scolded for your mistakes, he’ll let you try a scenario again until you pick the “right” choice. This leads to some crazy 4th wall breaks and head-scratching moments. The fun in this game is found in its D-movie level presentation, not it’s riveting action.

We’re here for the dialogue.

Side-Quest – Plumb the Depths Mode

A new addition to this re-release is the Plumb the Depths mode. This Wolfenstein-looking dungeon crawler mode has you exploring a maze to spend your “plumb-bucks” on bonus and behind the scenes content.

You’ll need to watch out for the vengeful Mr. Thresher, Jane’s interviewer and could-be boss, while exploring. You can fight him with the plungers you collect within the maze, though, so he’s not a huge threat. Aside from that, there isn’t a whole lot to the gameplay. But like I said, that’s not what we’re here for.

Fun fact: My favorite screenshot from the game came from this mode.

Graphics(?) and Sound

Graphics in this game are… retro, to say the least. Most of the game takes place in a slideshow format, so there isn’t a lot to see graphically. Just a collection of photos taken in the early 90’s and upscaled for modern television resolution. Shading has been “corrected”, and the images have been smoothed out, although you can view the original ones if you like. Some images are deep-fried and edited to hell, and some just don’t make sense in any context. It’s almost like something from Adult Swim before Adult Swim. Regardless, it’s a piece of gaming history that is now preserved for newer generations of consoles. That’s not something many games are lucky enough to receive these days.

I don’t know about you, but I think the graphics do still look realistic.

The sound is in a similar boat. It’s clear it was recorded in a different time, and there’s a certain charm to that. There’s no way anyone could really clean up the mixing, as it seems it was all mixed and exported as the same audio file. To put it bluntly: you’re gonna need those subtitles. One thing that drove me crazy in the funniest way was the abrasive buzzer sound. It sounds off when you’re about to be confronted by the director. Those familiar with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will feel like Dennis in the Family Feud episode. Complete with an overwhelming need to curl up in the fetal position and writhe in defeat.

The buzzer you hear before you see this guy is absolutely soul-crushing.


Okay, hear me out on this one. There is replayability here. Between the different endings and details you won’t notice on your first playthrough, you’ll be coming back at least a couple times. And if that doesn’t bring you back, you’re undoubtedly gonna show this to friends. How could you not? It’s an insanely weird title that many have only heard of before this year. And if you have to endure the weirdness, your friends should to. Just make sure you share a sense of humor. You don’t want to endure social awkwardness on top of this. I promise you.

After the Ties Settle – Conclusion

Ah, Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties. Ever since the Angry Video Game Nerd introduced me to the game, a part of me desired to play it. I always wanted to play through it myself, never being satisfied with long play videos or reviews. Like a cryptozoology petting zoo, I accepted that I would never get a chance to live that dream. Thanks to Limited Run Games, I was proved wrong. And frankly, it’s exactly what I had expected, in all it’s shoddy glory.

Thank you to the original team that spent 7 whole days filming this weird piece of… art? And thank you to Limited Run for making it playable on my PS5. That’s a statement I never thought I would be typing. And to answer my original question of “is it wonderful?”, yes it is, in some of the most odd ways imaginable. Objectively though, it’s like drinking spiked homemade punch in a dog bowl. You may be skeptical at first and it’ll taste a little funny, but it’ll give you a story to tell your friends. Just don’t be surprised if those friends judge you after hearing it.


  • A once-in-a-lifetime experience
  • Reminds you just how far we’ve come
  • A piece of gaming history


  • Dated in nearly every way (arguably part of the charm)
  • That damn buzzer sound effect
  • Only an hour to 1.5 hours long

Plumbers Don't Wear Ties: Definitive Edition

Objectively Bad. Miraculously Iconic.

A game so bad it was bound to build a cult following. Makes me wonder how there hasn't been a video game adaptation of The Room. Regardless of score, I recommend this game.

Trevor Walker
Reviewed on PlayStation 5. A review copy was provided by the developer.