Real Heroes: Firefighter is a bit of an interesting game. Originally releasing on the Wii back in 2009, it had all of the hallmarks of one of the crappy shovel-ware titles that constantly appeared on the platform. However, it managed to win over gamers and some critics thanks to its unique gameplay mechanics and effective use of the system’s motion controls, so initial appearances were somewhat deceiving.
Despite this, I never expected it to be re-released in 2019, yet here we are. Real Heroes: Firefighter has now brought its fire-fighting antics to Nintendo Switch, giving gamers the chance to save some lives on the go. Does it still have that charm that helped it win over gamers back on the Wii though, or is this budget release one that just needs to be tossed in the fire itself?
Real Heroes: Firefighter puts you in the boots of a rookie firefighter who ends up tackling some of the most dangerous fires in the city. There’s no deep story to be told here, but rather a series of events that see you build your reputation up as a firefighter. It’s alright, but it might’ve been nice to see a more interesting narrative taking place behind the scenes – especially since the developer went out of their way to get some good voice talent working on the game.
Gameplay-wise, Real Heroes: Firefighter plays exactly like you’d expect: you work through a series of fire-filled locales, extinguish the fires, and save some lives. There are multiple ways to approach this, with the player equipped with different hose types to tackle varying flames and carrying tools such as an axe to help break down doors. Different scenarios demand a different approach from the player though, so sometimes you might have to deactivate some gas pipes to get past a dangerous flame, have to clear an area of deadly black smoke, have to ensure some high value art doesn’t get burned, or even tackle a malfunctioning fire-breathing dragon (you read that right). Levels are well-structured and manage to keep things varied with the situations they give players, whilst they’re also spread across a variety of locales that each feel different to explore.
There’s a real sense of satisfaction to be had from fighting the fires and quelling the flames, whilst some of the set pieces are pretty enjoyable too. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not overly impressive from a presentation standpoint and the game barely offers any challenge, but it certainly felt unique and varied enough to keep me entertained. It’s all over pretty fast mind, with the game beaten in under three hours – it felt like the right length for me not to tire of its simplicity, though.
So I’ll admit that I expected Real Heroes: Firefighter to be pretty crappy, but I was pleasantly surprised that I actually found myself enjoying the game. However, it does have its share of flaws that do prevent it from striving towards fire-fighting ‘greatness’.
For one, the game is incredibly simple. Whilst you do have different tools at your disposal, they’re all easy to use and it’s always obvious when you need each one. The game does challenge you to do some different things on some levels, but more often than not it’s just a case of heading to the right location and pressing a button. Actually extinguishing the fires is pretty simple too – when the game released on the Wii it had the benefit of offering motion controls to make it a bit more exciting, but when you’re just using analogue sticks here it loses some of its charm.
The AI of the NPCs is pretty dismal too, with both the civilians you rescue and your firefighting colleagues proving to be a hindrance on occasions. They’ll just get in your way most of the time and divert your attention from actually extinguishing fires. Then there’s the fact that the game’s visuals are poor. Real Heroes: Firefighter was already a pretty ugly game when it initially released on the Wii in 2009, so it was never going to impress ten-years later.
Real Heroes: Firefighter has its share of issues, but I still found myself enjoying the game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not particularly good, but I had a fun time extinguishing the fires and tackling each situation that came my way – it’s clear that the game has a lot of heart and its silly antics make it easier to look past most of its problems.
It screams ‘low budget’ throughout and there’s nothing on offer that’s breath-taking (apart from maybe the black smoke), but if you fancy a unique experience on your Nintendo Switch that offers something a little different, it might be worth checking Real Heroes: Firefighter out.
Developer: Epicenter Studios
Publisher: Golem Entertainment, 612GAMES
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC