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Let's Play Fireman provides a challenge for older players that surprisingly draws on both the storytelling and motion controls of Elite Beat Agents DS. While not as hard hitting as the Fireman edition of Sam Power DS, the challenge and the educational information is stronger here.
Minigames come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What unites the genre is the speed with which players can pickup the games and the relatively short time required to complete a level or two.
Let's Play Fireman is unique because of its proper fire safety educational qualities and cartoon story telling art style. This presentation manages to take the game in more of an adventuring direction as players work through a series of fire related emergencies calls.
Nevertheless these proceed as standard minigame fare. Players pick the next emergency, driving a vehicle to the scene before embarking on the main extinguishing or rescuing minigame.
The driving is controlled by a combination of stylus and buttons. A quick flick enables players to change lanes to avoid traffic whilst corners are negotiated via a line tracing mechanic.
Once at the scene movement is automatic, leaving the player to use stylus to look around. Fires are then put out by holding a should butting and aiming with the stylus. This is then complicated by a shape on the screen that needs to be traced in time with a white mark. The controls create a sense of involvement in the action, and as the player progresses their complexity works to create a genuine challenge for even accomplished players.
Young players will be attracted by the Firefighter theme, but it will be the slightly older and more experienced who generally get the most out of the game. Whatever the case, the game's visuals create a real feel of drama. My four year old called me over to help save a cat from a tree. His involvement was obvious as he quickly showed me what we needed to do. The graphic novel storytelling made the game immediately accessible to him even if the finer controls would take a little longer to grasp.
As two players team up locally, or online against the hoards the tension of diminishing bullets and health packs soon starts to divide the party. Having just lend some bullets to my friend playing Shiva, I'm aghast they were then wasted gleefully dispatching some minor horrors. Striped of ammo, I'm left to face the hoard with just a knife. The tension and frustration the game generates is both fitting for it's style and great fun to experience.
The game takes a little while to get to grips with, and the unskippable story sections mean that sessions last at least five minutes. Stringing a few of these together will create more than an adequate gaming session for youngsters.
After some missions we find the educational content, narrated as explanation of the mission just completed. That these are also unskippable, they extend the time required by a few more minutes.
Very young players will struggle with the exacting stylus tracing controls. Those a little older will enjoy the challenge found here, as the strong firefighter theme.
Intermediates will appreciate the attention to detail on both the story telling and the educational information - although this can be a little Americanised at times.
Experts may balk at the adoption of the Elite Beat Agents style and interface. Whatever the case this is unlikely to be a game that will appeal to these players unless they have some specific interest in the subject matter.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
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