Planes: Fire & Rescue (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Lex Firth 17.12.2014

Review for Planes: Fire & Rescue on Nintendo 3DS

At this point, it would be strange if a Disney film were to be released without a videogame tie-in. In the last couple of years alone there has been Frozen, Brave, and Wreck-it Ralph arrive on consoles, as well as a tie-in for the first Planes film, which surprisingly impressed the team on the DS. Now it's the turn of the sequel, Fire & Rescue, but sadly it doesn't quite fare as well.

Most noticeable right out of the box, Planes: Fire & Rescue does away with the first game's racing and replaces it with (guessed it, right?) fire-fighting and rescue missions! It's an interesting concept and one that may spark interest among those who aren't even fans of the film - a premise like this in a flight game is admittedly fairly rare - but the game fails to stick the landing.

Fire & Rescue's main problem is that it's an incredibly tedious experience. On paper, flying around Piston Park putting out various fires and rescuing stranded hikers should be thrilling and heroic. In practice, it involves Dusty Crophopper (the crop-dusting protagonist of both Planes films) flying in awkward circles around hard-to-see flames, moving over to the nearest body of water when his tank empties. Rinse and repeat. It's made worse by the fact that Dusty controls terribly: once he starts moving, he can't be stopped, making it difficult to pinpoint fires exactly and almost impossible to fill up the tank in certain bodies of water.

Screenshot for Planes: Fire & Rescue on Nintendo 3DS

The rescue missions are, however, a massive improvement. There are actually a number of characters to play as, two of which are helicopters that can pick up obstacles, deer, and even the stranded hikers themselves. The gameplay itself is nothing more than a few button commands and quickly becomes boring but the other characters at least control better than Dusty and can even be used to put out fires when the mission calls for it.

The third and final type of gameplay is rooted to the ground and puts the player in control of a number of small trucks who can clear paths and locate hidden objects with the use of a radar. The path-clearing stages function like the rescue sections in that they only require a few button presses, but the treasure-hunting stages are far more interesting as they ask actual thought of the player. While the fact that the radar doesn't work when too far away from the object can cause a bit of an annoyance, these are by far the most enjoyable parts of the game and some objects are even hidden in clever little landscape-based puzzles that may leave some stumped, even if only for a few seconds.

Screenshot for Planes: Fire & Rescue on Nintendo 3DS

Speaking of landscapes, there are only three. Piston Park is split into three total areas that are visited around four times each over the course of the story, and although that may seem restrictive it's actually rewarding to learn a stage off by heart, especially when the location of some objectives are only hinted at in descriptions of the area in the dialogue.

The dialogue itself is nothing to shout about: there's a very rudimentary story going on in the background about a storm and "fire season" but it's no Citizen Kane and the voice acting becomes grating, with only a line or two spoken by each character and then thrown on top of text that doesn't match it in terms of tone.

Screenshot for Planes: Fire & Rescue on Nintendo 3DS

Presentation-wise, the game is frankly awful. The graphics have more in common with a mediocre DS title than even a poor 3DS one, and the music relies on very few tracks that appear to have been lifted straight from the film - heroic orchestrated music may fit a movie, but it's dull and unfitting when it's played behind Dusty Crophopper trying to fill his water tank in a tiny body of water.

Despite its many shortcomings, Planes: Fire & Rescue has at least made an effort. If nothing else, there are a number of different kinds of gameplay present - even if they are all shallow and repetitive - and the treasure hunting shows promise, save for one or two particularly egregious stages that provide the player with no radar whatsoever. It may be functional, but its tiresome nature makes it difficult to recommend to even the most easily-amused player.

Screenshot for Planes: Fire & Rescue on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

While there are some good ideas at play here, Planes: Fire & Rescue does the bare minimum with them and the development team has produced a game that's only fun to play for a few minutes at a time. Parents are warned to only buy this for their children if they are having trouble getting them to sleep - this is an incredibly boring experience and is too thin on the ground to recommend playing past the point of tedium.

Developer

Little Orbit

Publisher

Little Orbit

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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