The Firemen - A Low-Scoring Review in Dire Need of Criticism

The Firemen - An SNES Game About Firemen

image

Personifying fire is a bit like poetry talking about love. It's inevitable, frequently done, and impossible to miss in nearly every form of media.

What The Fireman for the Super Nintendo does differently is personifying the fire in such a way that it appears as a practical enemy. To the point where The Firemen is nearly indistinguishable from other top-down action games of the same type. Other titles come to mind like The Legend of Zelda or Terranigma.

Which almost feels like a crimson slash for the game. With average graphics, and unusual story, and nothing too remarkable in terms of technical aspects, the game can't really stand with its head held high. The secret to this game lies in the little things, and the little things manage to amount to a lot.

The graphic work is highly stylized, and bears a remarkable resemblance to Robotek. The Super Nintendo is capable of more than the game puts out, and what effects appear are rather minimal, almost trying a little too hard to keep itself cartoony. The sprites themselves are large, without a lot of detail, and connecting the sprites to the faces in the dialog boxes is impossible at a glance. For the size of the sprites, there really should be more detail. Disregarding that hiccup, the fire effects are simple and uncluttered, and really let the player know what they should be extinguishing, and what they should be saving. This is more than enough for the purpose of gameplay, but the lack of polish on the interface and sprites really is disappointing. Especially given the limited number of graphical effects throughout the game's duration.

Because it isn't that long. The entire game is five stages, which is completed in about an hour (depending on player skill and speed). Although, given that the game is much like an arcade, it couldn't be too much longer. Especially considering there is no native way to save progress. This setup works well given the pace of the game, and the number of continues really challenges the player to practice the mechanics hard enough to progress through the end. Further bolstered by the difficulty, which is set pretty high. Even gamers have to flex their gaming muscles to progress a considerable amount in-game.

Moreso since the game limits itself to 2 continues. Despite that, it's never difficult enough to be frustrating, and if anything else, is disarming enough to gently scold the player for failing rather than forcing the player into fits of controller-snapping rage. If anything, this game has the best kind of difficulty, which is the kind that taxes the player's ability patiently, in a brisk, well paced, and charming way.

image

Though the charm sometimes manages to cripple itself given the slow story-telling. The game has a story, which while simplistic, tends to involve a lot of dialog. This dialog is well-translated and really characterizes the protagonists and the setting well. It would be good, except for that the game is so short. Coupled with the difficulty, multiple playthroughs will involve a lot of repeated dialog, which is slow to progress and completely unchanging. It's a frustration, though by no means is it game-breaking. Frustration aside, the story is naturally compelling, if not occasionally unexplained. While it's not perfect, it's far from bad, and even welcome considering the alternative to no story at all. Though it would have benefited from a skip button.

Problems arise, though, where The Firemen personifies the fire. The fire itself doesn't act as fire. It's not slow-moving, or spreads out in all directions. It's monstrous, to the point where it is exactly alike monsters. It follows movement patterns like snakes, or sparks through the air not at all unlike bats, or any number of things. There are even boss fires.

Let that one sink in: Boss fires.

Fires that act as major bosses. So massive that they withstand steady streams of industrial-strength water for minutes at a time, move around with sentience, fling fireballs at the protagonists, dodge water streams, but do not spread organically. If anything, the whole game suffers from this personification of fires as living creatures. It takes a lot of disbelief suspension to get by this particular quirk, but like many other flaws, is only a minor quibble.

This game manages despite these things, and excepting strange behavior from the elements, is remarkably fun. The earlier mentions to The Legend of Zelda and Terranigma were as much compliments as they were statements. If a game, about firemen, can be as stand out, amazing, and highly praised as The Legend of Zelda, is a game that does it right. The line between "homage" and "rip-off" is often decided by the quality of the game, and if this game is any indication, there's nothing wrong with being alike another title. Especially when it's done so well. It's a game that not only endures, but excels. As much for its flaws as for its victories, and a game that's so remarkably humble about it, it somehow flies completely under the radar.

It's hard not to applaud The Firemen for everything it does right, and even the things it does wrong. Stamp collectors know that it's a flaw that makes something valuable. For a game so quiet and meek, it's a rather powerful statement. Which is really such a good statement for The Firemen. It's wonderful, it's amazing, it's simple, and it's fun. For what it's worth, it's a gem, and certainly something worth experiencing. Frustrations, flaws, and all.

Hm... I'm not sure how good I am at critiquing things, but since you asked...

I'm not sure sentence fragments are the best formats for transitions between paragraphs. Maybe you should add them as part of the previous paragraph? The way it is now kind of seems like you forced a line break into the paragraph and interrupted the train of thought.

Also, without giving it a number score a lot of people(I'm proud to say I'm not part of this group) aren't going to know whether to get the game or not(which many use against Yahtzee). It's something that I think irritates a lot of people but can be easily fixed.

Edit: Er, the other reviews don't seem to have them, so maybe it's not a big deal? Not sure. I might be underestimating people again.

Edit 2: Is that guy in the picture attacking the fire with an axe? You could have made a joke about that. A little more humor probably wouldn't hurt. Also, try using different fonts to break monotony.

I have removed my words from this site.

Where to begin?

I like the introduction. It's an interesting way to begin a review of a facetious (I presume, based on the review) game, and competently attracted my attention. However... Everything after that just feels like a soliloquised attempt at justifying those two scant sentences. You dedicated two paragraphs to the concept, which you concluded with a perplexing "... only a minor quibble". The introduction indicated that the concept of personified fire was to be the crux of your review, but the execution results in it feeling like a rather pointless exercise in overly-analytical literary pretentiousness. Had you interwoven that idea throughout, relating it back to every other point you made, would have made the whole review much more enjoyable.

I agree with what joethekoeller said in regards to the tone and style of the piece. I won't reiterate everything he said, but I will say this:

Your final paragraph is barely over three lines long and contains seven full sentences. It's a thoroughly disjointed way to conclude a lengthy review, and, honestly, were I not familiar with your previous work, it would have left me with a very poor impression of you as a writer. The core of a review is here - the opinion, the critique, the general information - but it sorely needs editing to shine through. Your natural eloquence and firm grasp of grammar are let down by what reads like a rushed, and consequently heavy-handed, attempt to craft something unique with that wonderful introduction.

Edit: In case you're interested, I ran it through the Fog Readability Formula and it got a grade level of 11 - it would be difficult for most people to read and comprehend.

oppp7:
Also, without giving it a number score a lot of people aren't going to know whether to get the game or not.

There are a great many reasons to not use numerical scores. In my (admittedly not stellar) review, for example, I disliked the game but still enjoyed playing it; there is no logical way to communicate that through an "x stars out of y" scoring system. Regardless, NewC's opinion and recommendation of the game is well summarised by his conclusion. A score would have been entirely ancillary.

Diagonal Horizontality:

oppp7:
Also, without giving it a number score a lot of people aren't going to know whether to get the game or not.

There are a great many reasons to not use numerical scores. In my (admittedly not stellar) review, for example, I disliked the game but still enjoyed playing it; there is no logical way to communicate that through an "x stars out of y" scoring system. Regardless, NewC's opinion and recommendation of the game is well summarised by his conclusion. A score would have been entirely ancillary.

Ya, I realized that no one else had any in their reviews, but I've heard a few people criticize Yahtzee for this so I figured it might be an issue with some people. But I felt that going into detail about a game is a better approach because it lets people decide based on their personal tastes rather than someone else's.

Here you go, Nuke. Like you asked:

The biggest issues with the review were blunt when I first received it. The lack of any use of the BBcode/formatting sure hindered the review from the start, and combine that with the post-into being uncharacteristically confusing, and you lost most readers near the start of the review. Your intro and conclusion were solid, but awkward wording and grammar problems made through me into confusion.

Lines like "...is disarming enough to gently scold the player for failing rather than forcing the player into fits of controller-snapping rage" or "Which almost feels like a crimson slash for the game." in particular just sound awkward when spoken aloud.

However, Boss fires did interest me enough to pick up (okay get an emulator) the game. Still, a bit of polish and rephrasing would whip this up quickly.

 

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked