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Fire Panic - DSiWare Review

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DSiWare | Yullaby / Playtainment | 1 Player | Out Now | 200 Nintendo Points
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21st June 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Did you want to become a firefighter when you were younger? I bet you thought it would be so cool to make rescues, and save people's lives. Whether you were in it for glory or the thrill, I doubt you'll be prepared for what Fire Panic presents you with. This 200-Point title is actually developed by Yullaby, the team responsible for the great WiiWare puzzler, Magnetis. Since I'm a big fan of the game, I was looking forward to trying another one of their projects. And I'm pleased to say that Fire Panic delivers on what many long for in a DSiWare title these days: challenging, addicting gameplay for a reasonable asking price.

    Your main goal in the game is to put out the fires located throughout the city. Players have to make use of their multi-tasking abilities to control two different fire engines. To get them moving, you simply draw lines from the sprite to your destination by using your stylus. When they are near a bursting flame, water jets will automatically spurt out from the vehicle. Naturally, these hoses don't have an infinite supply of water - when your jet's power decreases, you'll begin to see a flashing icon and hear a dinging noise. When this happens, you'll need to head back to the fire station in order to refuel, represented by blue water drop icons.

    Everything is presented in top-down view. There are two different districts that you can tackle (Western & Eastern), each with their own road layout. Both areas feature various landmarks including a docking area, factory, hospital, stadium and more. The level variation acts much like the 'Game A' and 'Game B' options found in the Game & Watch titles on DSiWare. Case in point: The latter area features a slightly-different points system and is ultimately more challenging. Whichever level you play on, though, you'll find the game to be quite immersive and gripping.

Staying true to the name of the game, action picks up rather quickly and at times, it really is a literal panic to manage all of the fires popping up in the city. Whether you appreciate this style of gameplay, however, will be up to you. Although the visuals might suggest otherwise, this game isn't just for casual players. In fact, those longing for a challenge will be even more pleased than other games who may get frustrated easily. I personally found the difficulty to be very motivating, especially because of the fact that clearing all the default scores on the leaderboard is no easy task. This aspect alone will give you adequate reason to keep coming back to it.

    Although this is a simple game at its core, there's some hidden depth as well. Players can score up to five points maximum per fire, but the number of points earned depends on the number of fires you put out in succession. If you can put out multiple fires without moving your vehicle in the process, you'll earn more points than you otherwise would travelling to each one individually. Keeping this in mind is key if you hope to earn a good score, and this method of scoring is great, especially for those who play with a strategy in mind.

    Fire Panic also has a good sense of variety. On occasion, little event bubbles will pop up in different locations on the map, representing citizens who are in need of your services. You'll be asked for help a cat up a tree, deal with a swarm of bees, and more. Passing over these is optional, however it's very rewarding since each one will increase your score multiplier up to x10. After this point, new events will appear for a much shorter time frame, making it more difficult for you to maintain this high rank. 

As if dealing with rampaging fires and side-quests wasn't enough, there are also big "disasters" that pose a threat to your progress and will only make your life more difficult. These come in the form of either a tornado, or even a UFO. For the first disaster, the large trail of wind can not only spread fires if they get caught in its path, but if an engine gets in the way, it'll spin out, rendering it useless for a good amount of time. The UFO is more unexpected, and it will target a specific area where there's fire burning and intensify its strength significantly. If you won't act quickly, this can cause your game to end very quickly. I really loved these gameplay elements, and it certainly would've been great if there were more disasters. Like perhaps a thunderstorm that helps you, acting as a reward for making it past certain score intervals.

    The graphics look great in this game - full of colour and a good amount of detail as well. There are three different music tracks (one for the Main Menu, and two for gameplay) and the stage themes convey the frantic nature of the game quite well. The entire game has a very zany feel to it, whilst still managing to be clean and distinguished. Probably the only issue I had was with the leaderboards themselves. I would've preferred to have two separate leaderboards. Splitting them up would've further added to the level of motivation in aiming for a high-score. Some may also dislike the fact that these are not online-enabled but honestly, how many third-party DSiWare titles feature this support anyway?

    Fire Panic is definitely a worthwhile purchase that does well as a DSiWare release. It fits right in with the Game & Watch titles in offering a replayable experience that you can always come back to for short bursts of challenging gameplay. Although the difficulty level may appear too high for some, others will be able to appreciate the rewarding system as well as the focus towards developing hidden strategies. It's simple, yes, but it has a lot going for it to make it a worthy addition to your DSiWare library.

23/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Great mechanics for a simple concept, good sense of strategy and variety, rewarding scoring system, could've had more disasters
Presentation 8/10 - Sports a great look, full of life and detail, map is presented in a top-down view, music in the game is very suitable 
Enjoyment 4/5 - Level of challenge may be hard to deal with for casual gamers, addicting in short bursts, motivating high-score table
Extra Content 4/5 - Two different stages with different difficulty levels, local rankings, a great purchase for only $2 

Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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