This is a late post for Try An Old Game For The First Time And Write About It Week. It was delayed because I have been playing lots of old games for the first time and wanted to pick an interesting one.
Many games feature fire as a hazard, but very few let you control a fireman tackling a blaze. The arcade game Fire Trap springs to mind, with its Crazy Climber style controls. And there is a reason I have not played The Firemen on Super Nintendo before – it’s rare. The US release of the game was cancelled and it sold poorly in Japan and Europe. But thanks to emulation this game has gained a cult following.
The game is set in the year 2010 (what was the distant future and is now the past) and a major chemicals company is hosting its Christmas party. The headquarters is a large tower block, including a research department and the basement. Something goes wrong and a fire starts.
The first teams on the scene are firefighters Pete and Danny, with backup from their surveillance team who stay outside the tower. A second pair of firefighters is also committed to the fire, before the backup arrives. The building’s architect arrives during the game to give advice on the level layouts.
Pete is armed with an axe, while Danny has his backpack. This carries water and has a hose. The water tank can be refilled from various sources. The hose can spray in a jet or down at the ground to deal with different types of fire. Pete will help out by tackling fires close to him, in a clever piece of co-operative AI. More importantly, there are survivors to rescue – and these can only be secured by clearing the fire around them. Malfunctioning robots and machines in the tower add to the problems, along with blocked routes and places where the duo must crawl.
The graphic style is very pleasing, giving a clear overhead view of the action. The control panel is clear and includes the radio messages from the rest of the team. These are vital to progress, as they explain what is happening and where Pete and Danny need to go. The map shows the current floor of the building the player is on, with colour coding to show where fire is active and where to go. Large arrows also prompt the player to the next section.
Best of all is the way the fire spreads and changes, working both as a hazard and an opponent to fight. The flames work really well and the puzzle-like layouts give plenty of gameplay. The ticking clock gives real urgency to proceedings too.
There would be a PlayStation follow-up, The Firemen 2: Pete & Danny, but that was never released outside of Japan. If you have never tried The Firemen, it’s a great alternative to just shooting or fighting. And we salute all the brave firefighters who put their lives in danger to save ours.