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Magazine MADNESS
Retro Fire

Written: 10.4.06
Acquired: 9.2.06
Status: Cart only
Price: $13.51

Publisher: HUMANReleased: 9.8.94
Developer: HUMANScarcity: 3.5

If you've ever seen the old 1974 flick THE TOWERING INFERNO (Fred Astaire, OJ Simpson
yes THAT OJ Simpson) then you will know exactly what to expect from this

12 years ago EGM ran a spiffy 2-page feature on THE FIREMEN, and ever since I've been
curious about it. Made by HUMAN, perhaps most well-known for their Fire Pro Wrestling
franchise, The Firemen is a 1-player top-down action game where you navigate a top high-rise
fire fighter through the burning Metrotech building. Using your water hose to extinguish fires,
along the way more hazards crop up; dispatch mechanical objects gone haywire and of course
face intimidating end-level bosses

Like Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen, this 12-year-mystery lived up to the hype. The Firemen is stellar. It's graphically pleasant with well-shaded characters adding a perception of depth, plays really well and the theme is unique. All of this culminates in a game which has that "cool" factor. There is some in-game JP text communication between Danny and Pete the firefighters, but nothing that hinders the game. Oddly, the game intro is in English

It's 6 PM on Christmas and a small fire in the Metrotech kitchen left unattended has spread throughout the complex. With the building quickly burning to a crisp and injured people trapped inside, it's your job to get in and neutralize the situation. There are six floors in all. Thanks to the whole theme and atmosphere, it reminds me of Die Hard the movie, except replace the terrorists with deadly flames, and the guns with a water hose

Your partner carries an axe and helps you in eradicating fires and other enemies, including bosses. He'll carry out the victims as well

Finding and rescuing victims are not necessary, per se, but finding more means a better score and each time you save someone your health will be restored by roughly 60% (if necessary)

The buttons are simple

Y = straight ahead spray
B = downward spray
X = extinguishing bomb (limited)
A = crawl
L/R = locks position and strafes (you can shoot in 8 directions)

Predominantly, you'll be using the straight spray but the downward spray is the only way to eliminate small fires. There are two main fire types: small and large. The small flames you can touch without getting hurt. Crawling is critical at times. Much like Burning Rangers you'll hear a quick whiz before all hell breaks loose. By crawling you can avoid backdrafts and fireballs. You'll also crawl under high flames, desks and even through a vent!

The bomb is your ultimate weapon
and up to 3 can be carried. Save
them for the bosses!  If you have 3
already, and find another bomb, pick
it up so you can transform into a super
fire fighter
 with a bigger and stronger
spray. There is also a separate icon for
this rare powerup

Let's check out the game's first 3 stages and bosses...


Just stay diagonal of this 1st boss because it shoots 4 flames (north, south, east and west) and then scurries around the screen


Beware of exploding containers. The breakable glass is a nice touch

This sorching flame ball boss can
only be attacked with the downward
spray. Keep in mind with this type of
spray you move exceptionally slower.
Be careful or it will char you to a
burning crisp


Things start to get trickier as
stage 3 introduces backdrafts,
new enemies and collapsing

Easy boss in its first couple forms but the last form, as shown here, can be double tough as it surrounds you in no time

Does this game have any flaws?  Of course, it's not perfect

  • No 2-player option
  • Isn't hard, and short -- I beat it on my third try in 75 minutes. Each level you have 10 minutes (sometimes more) to complete. 3 continues by the way
  • No option screen, so much like Majyuuou there's no way to crank up the difficulty
  • The Strafe buttons (L and R) -- one should have been "spin in place" or a 180° turn
  • Unlike Burning Rangers the flames are not randomly generated. So once you play through it, you know where everything is... a bit of a shame

On the upside, at the end a detailed account of your gameplaying is given; everything from class to level completion times to total play time to % of rescued people and a total point score out of 100, so that can be something to shoot for on repeated plays. But the replay value is only slightly above average at best

Other than those flaws listed, THE FIREMEN is a true winner

And keep in mind it's not to be
confused with Fire Fighting
which is known in the US as
Ignition Factor by Jaleco --
similar yet not as good, but
solid and playable in its own


THE FIREMEN is top-notch top-down action. Sorry but it must be said: This game is on fire

Update: Originally, I scored this game 8.5 and really enjoyed it. However, I have been playing it again recently and am not so impressed. I guess it's one of those games that when you first play, you are wow'ed by. But after playing it some more, it hits you it's not as fun once the novelty wears off. Overall, I still think it's a solid little import to have in the ole library, but no longer do I consider it one of SFC's very best. It's solid, but I find it a bit tedious these days and don't see myself coming back to it much. Yeah sometimes this happens in this hobby of ours. We play a game and think, "Wow, this is so cool!" Years later you play it and go, "Huh, what happened?" I guess, back in 2006 fighting fire on SNES was new and neat to me. Now, it's just kind of eh. Not worthy of an 8.5 / 10 score. I still like The Firemen, but it's not as good as I initially thought

Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7.5
Longevity: 5.5

Overall: 7.5

Bronze Award