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The Firemen

Over the years, disaster games have managed to carve a niche out for themselves. Whether they focus on earthquakes, sinking ocean liners, or something else entirely, these sorts of games, while not hugely popular, have earned a dedicated following. A particularly fine entry in the subgenre is Human Entertainment’s SNES title, The Firemen.

As the game suggests, players take on the role of a pair of firefighters as they scale a large corporation’s headquarters, putting out massive fire that has spread to every floor while rescuing those still trapped inside. The player controls a veteran fireman named Pete who is assisted throughout the game by a rookie named Danny who is controlled by the computer.

Pete operates the firehose, which has two settings. The first is a powerful stream that can be fired over a long range and is used to put out particularly intense fires, while the second is more of a spray that spreads widely but has a much shorter range and forces Pete to much slowly. The spray setting is more useful for putting out smaller blazes that blanket a wide surface area on the floor and haven’t had a chance to intensify yet. Pete also has a limited number of what amounts to a water grenade which are best thrown at very large fires or bosses as they have the best potential for putting out the most intense hotspots.

And yes, you did read that right, there are bosses in The Firemen. These manifest themselves as super intense fires that have taken on a life of their own. Players will usually come across these in particularly large rooms at the end of a stage. The bosses move around the room quite a bit and will have a number of mechanics for players to deal with whether that means dodging attacks, prioritizing which way to use their firehose, switching to priority targets that spawn on-screen, and what have you. Each boss will keep players on their toes as they tend to have a fair number of mechanics to them.

In fact, the whole game is quite a nice challenge. As one makes their way to the higher levels in the building, the sheer amount of fires that have to be put out increases noticeably, with explosions, malfunctioning robots, bursting pipes and the like making the mission all that much more difficult. Moreover, players need to start prioritizing which fires they’ll put out completely and which ones they’ll simply carve a path through in order to simply advance to the next room. Each stage has a time limit, and if someone tries to put out every single fire, they will run out of time. Given the size of each floor in the building, this makes picking one’s battles an absolute must. As such, good judgement is just as important in The Firemen as good reaction time. Finally, the game doesn’t use health packs. If Pete’s hit points run out, that’s it and players need to use a continue if they want to proceed. The game also doesn’t give players very many continues, so one needs to be very careful not to run into the flames very often so they aren’t dying all the time.

Thankfully, the game does its best to make imminent threats as visible as possible. The vantage point that one plays the game from gives a good view of the action and if Pete and Danny have to go into a covered are, they are surrounded by a small circle that zooms in on them and helps players to better see what’s going on around them. Moreover, the game looks very nice. Levels have a lot of detail, as do Pete and Danny. Also, as is common in a number of SNES games, bright, vibrant colors abound in The Firemen, that being said, given that everything is on fire, this kind of makes sense! Even the levels are reasonably varied, though not too much given that players are scaling a building one floor at a time, and this will necessitate a certain degree of uniformity in order to maintain visual cohesion throughout the game.

Oddly, this game never came out in North America, instead only seeing releases in Japan and Europe. It’s a shame, as a lot of people missed out on The Firemen. So, depending which region you’re in, getting your mitts on a copy may require importing. There are a lot of disaster games to choose from out there, so picking somewhere to start can be tough, but its hard to go wrong with The Firemen.

- IroIro
June 27, 2019
Genre: Action
Platform: SNES
Developer: Human Entertainment
Publisher: Human Entertainment
Released: 1994

Firemen SNES Image 1

Firemen SNES Image 2

Firemen SNES Image 3

Firemen SNES Image 4