Nintendo has already shown how successful bite-sized games on the DSiWare download service can be, with a slew of 200 Points titles regularly littering the 'Most Popular' list in the DSi Shop. In fact, Nintendo has even been using DSiWare as a sort of Virtual Console for its Game & Watch line, merely putting the original versions on there for 200 Points per release. Now, though, Playtainment has brought French developer Yullaby's Fire Panic to the portable download channel, aiming to emulate the basic charm of the 30-year-old series that gamers have been lapping up lately, whilst adding some polish that Nintendo has left off.
Fire Panic reveals its retrospective roots as soon as it loads up, with its extremely catchy Game Boy-esque tune pumping away in the background and its basic, yet colourful and stylish 2D visuals. Yullaby has not only done its best to capture the look and feel of Nintendo's classic Game & Watch range, but has also gone for the classic 'Game A' and 'Game B' setup, offering two maps to play on. Fire Panic puts players in the role of organiser for the fire services, conducting the movements of fire trucks around the Eastern and Western sides of a city full of either very unfortunate folk, or total pyromaniacs, plagued by constant outbreaks of fire.
As with the iPhone and iPod Touch versions, a path in laid out around the road network via use of the touch-screen, in this case using the DS stylus to draw the quickest route to the biggest threat at any particular time. In the first mode, the roads are all handily interlinked meaning getting both vehicles to zoom to the rescue is not a complete nightmare. Once within the vicinity of a blaze, water will automatically begin to spout outwards, swiftly dousing the billowing flames. Whilst it may seem like you have an endless supply of water to hand (well, 'to hose'), caution must be taken and a return to base, even briefly, to fill up the water tanks is a wise choice. Time is of the essence, though, since a cavalcade of catastrophes awaits the young firefighters.
In keeping with the Game & Watch theme, the second map in considerably harder than the first. Here there's only one fire engine available, plus several dead ends that will cause players to pull their hair out as they madly attempt to scramble around to extinguish the next impending disaster as quickly as possible. Rather than merely darting about to reach the fires, though, Fire Panic gives players the chance to gain bonus points by rescuing kittens and saving the city's inhabitants from aggressive killer bees, merely by stopping at their homes for a second or two. As with any balanced game, though, any positive opportunities are evened out by extra challenges; in this case tornadoes that fan the flames of terror, aliens that lay waste to random structures, and even an appearance from the legendary Godzilla, on top of water supplies starting to run low and a nuclear power plant constantly being ablaze.
One thing to bear in mind is how Fire Panic is almost one-third of the price on Apple's App Store and includes Facebook integration that allows players to share their high scores with others via the online leaderboard, so anyone with either an iPhone or iPod Touch would be wise to get the marginally superior version. However, DSi-only owners should not feel too aggrieved as they will not be missing out on an extremely crucial element nor particularly be paying over the odds, since 200 Points is the lowest price-point on the DSi Shop after all. Anyone up for the tough challenge at hand, thinking that they can handle the necessary lightning fast stylus skills should certainly take a closer look at this, instead of many of the Game & Watch series currently littering the DSiWare service.
Anyone can easily jump in and play Fire Panic thanks to its easy to control system and basic core gameplay.
Simple, back to basics visuals, purposefully retro, yet filled with plenty of bright colours throughout.
A great little funky Game Boy-esque tune that develops the longer it plays, complementing the stylised action perfectly.
Whilst there is heaps of challenge included, keeping players coming back to beat their high scores, it lacks the online leaderboard featured in the cheaper iPhone version to encourage further replay.
Yullaby has managed to not only mimic Nintendo's Game & Watch series perfectly, but has exceeded expectations by surpassing several of the classic range that has already been churned out onto the DSiWare service so far for the same price.