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Fire Fighter (Atari 2600)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  SirOrlando (235)
Written on  :  Oct 26, 2005
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Summary

An exciting, educational children's game where you get to be the hero and save a person from a fire!

The Good

It teaches young players mathematical concepts by presenting a fun, real-world application of conceptual geometry, as the player is required to use the joystick to rotate the ladder to just the right angle. If they have angled it correctly, they player will then be able to reach the correct floor by extending the ladder. As game play commences, the warehouse fire increases in strength, and the flames gradually rise higher and higher. This forces our terrified victim to ascend the building one floor at a time. The rate of increase and the height of the building (determined by the difficulty level selected) are factors that must be taken into consideration by the player as he or she determines which floor of the building they are going to extend the ladder to. As if that wasn't enough, there are a variety of other variables, including the intensity of the fire, the speed the victim is moving, and the amount of time it takes to extend the ladder and climb up it. If all factors are considered correctly, the fireman (controlled by the player) will be able to run up the ladder and rescue our victim.

When our victim is saved from the fire, a happy rendition of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow!" is heard, thereby congratulating the player for a rescue well done!

The graphics are decent for the time period in which the game was created, and the flames of the fire are animated believably.

It's a lot of fun to be able to spray water upwards to douse the flames! And for young children, another lesson is learned... to overcome the flames, it is necessary to make sure you are spraying at the TOPS of the flames, rather than the base of the flames. Furthermore, the water supply is limited, so the player must be conservative with how much water is used.

All things considered, it is a very original game, and is definitely educational for young children... the audience for whom this game is intended.

The Bad

Our frightened, hapless victim never dies! Even if you WANT him to consumed by the flames, he will escape death indefinitely! I know this, because I tried all the harder levels in an attempt to find a skill level in which our victim truly became a victim! If you sit there and watch, doing nothing to assist him while in the throes of his dilemma, one would think that death is inevitable. As the minutes pass by, he will continue to flail his arms back and forth in a dramatic show of great fear and terror, but ultimately nothing happens!

If you are patient enough to let the flames grow to completely engulf the entire building, our trapped person will eventually climb onto the roof, still waving his hands in a desperate attempt to get the fireman's attention. If you wait longer still, the flames will eventually burn themselves out, never quite reaching the victim. Once the fire is spent, our terrified victim will drop suddenly to the bottom floor. I'm guessing that his body must somehow be made of fire retardant rubber, because he continues to wave his arms back and forth, seemingly unaware that he has just dropped multiple floors, no doubt making contact with jagged floorboards and burning embers along the way. In the end, our warehouse victim appears unharmed, continuing to cry for help.

So even if you WANT to have the building burn down, it won't. The paint appears unmarred, and the structural stability of the warehouse seems solid and intact... in fact, it looks as though the building wasn't even aware that flames were licking away at its walls and floors. This fact seems to remove any motivation that putting out the flames is urgent.

The TIMER, large and glaring at the bottom of the screen, has been ticking away the minutes and seconds. It may seem at first to be the only element left that might prove a challenge to the game. After all, setting a time limit seems like a good way to create a challenge for an otherwise challenge-less game. But like everything else in the game, TIME also seems to never run out. Regardless of the fact that the instruction booklet's frantic, sensational writing approach seems to promote the urgency that time is your enemy, and to delay is fatal, the game doesn't ever seem to end!

I let it sit for 45 minutes once before giving up! Even though our victim is still waving his arms about, desperate to get saved, he seems unaware that he is on the bottom floor and could easily walk out any number of openings that must have been opened by the fire, he is oblivious to everything but his hopeful rescue.

Whether you do everything you can to save the frightened victim as quickly as possible, or let the fire burn completely out, seems to make absolutely no difference in points. As well designed as the rest of the game is, it would have been nice if more challenge had been put into Fire Fighter!

The Bottom Line

When it comes to well-designed games vs. poorly designed games, people have touted "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial" as one of the very worst video games ever. Whether or not such a label is fair, "E.T." has certainly become infamous in gaming history as the "worst game" ever created for the Atari 2600. Certainly it is not be among the top gems created for Atari's longest running gaming console, but the worst? I must disagree, as there are PLEANTY of games that I would personally rank lower. Among them, "Firefighter!" by IMAGIC.