Little kids love Fischer-Price! Little kids love Little People! Especially way back when, when the people looked like plastic, limbless corpses and you could stick them in stuff. I remember playing with them in camp and having crazy limbless fights on the playground with them that could be only replicated in a movie, and it’d fatal even then if they weren’t plastic toys. It was like a combination of a WWE battle royal and that scene from South Park where Timmy and Jimmy were fighting.
GameTek, the people who brought us game show-based videogames, and Imagineering Inc., tried to capture the entertainment that is playing with Little People with a defined situation for you! In Fisher-Price: Firehouse Rescue, you take control of a fireman who needs to rescue peeps in various pseudo-dangerous situations and save the day. Of course, since this is a kid’s game, you’re not going to be Mr. Rambo Macho Dude. Oh no—far from it .
There are four difficulty levels to start at. If you’re not under the age of eight, then you can dub them with great descriptors such as Braindead, Retarded, Easy, and Semi-Easy.
Braindead is primarily for people who like to play videogames by placing their controllers on a table or other hard surface and repeatedly bashing their skulls on it until their faces look like a Picasso painting. Retarded is for drug addicts, bums, and other various types of mentally-insufficient people. Easy and Semi-Easy are great places for everyone else to start, since it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to play this game, and there’s obstacles added to make it more difficult. Each difficulty level actually switches up the levels you play, adding encumbrances such as having to get a key before you can go save a house, and toggling the time limit, so it’s not like you’re playing the same set of levels four times. (Only twice).
The first level is so sickeningly easy that you could shove the controller up your asshole and shake your bum around like in a rap video and still clear the level. At the end, after you get through a maze and reach the flashing house that says “HOUSE” on it, you find a cat in a tree. This is where it switches over to a side-scroller view, where your firefighter looks like a lemming, or even Kermit the Frog with a human skin color. So, anyway, no problems from me so far, ‘cause firefighters save cats from trees. All you have to do to save the cat is go over to it and press the A button, and the cat slides down conveniently, complete with sound effects, and goes on its way. Good job, fireman! Time for level two!
Level two has a one-screen maze again. However, this time, you save people from a house! Therein lies a huge problem. The window opens up, and there’s…nothing there. What the fuck am I supposed to be saving these people from, anyway? There’s no fire coming from the windows, no smoke, no nothing. Why am I going out of my way to save people who don’t need to be saved?! You just go over and press the A button, and they slide down the slide and go for a walk to the convenience store or work. This isn’t a fucking city bus; this is the fire department! If I called my local fire department up and said “Hey, I need you to come over so I can slide down the ladder and go over to the dining commons for food,” I’d get hung up on faster than the Sonic the Hedgehog running in the Olympics.
So after the Little People slide down the ladder like a playground slide (whereas, in real life, they’d break their tail bone, bruise their asses, and probably land head-first on top of the fire trick), you head off to the next level, wherein the maze gets trickier and the saving even more asinine.
Each difficulty level just adds more alterations. Level two introduces four-screen-wide mazes, with two houses to save the village idiots from instead of one. Level three repeats various mazes from the previous two difficulties, but this time with a time limit. This actually gets slightly difficult, but as long as you know the maze layouts, it’s a breeze, because it plays the same exact way as before. Level four is the hardest—even I’ve had a little trouble in it—because, not only do you have to get to the right house, but you also have to get a key before you can go in.
Think about this for a minute. There’s no fire or any real signs of danger in this game. We’re promoting burglary by telling kids to snatch up keys and barge into houses! Even though you don’t actually go into houses, the concept is there. Funny what ends up slipping by in games.
So, maze navigation and letting the Little People play with your slide—that’s about it, for the most part. Once you finish that, which takes all of about…not very long, you don’t have anything else to go back to. You’re a superb firefighter. Good for you! You just get the reward of a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. More specifically, the embarrassing kind, because not only have you wasted your time, you’ve made yourself look like an utter five year old. You also get to question just what this game really teaches your kids when you let them play it.
If you like stupidity or, in all honesty, just like mazes, then this is probably for you. I admit that I’m a real sucker for mazes, no matter how easy or difficult. (Just look at the subway level of the NES edition of Where’s Waldo, and watch me want to find a cheat code so that I always play the subway level.) So if that’s your thing, you’ll get a kick out of this game anyway, in a guilty pleasure sort of way. It depends on how much you want to embarrass yourself.
And now for the breakdown!
Middle-of-the-road number. If you like mazes and can tolerate the back-asswards emergency force of the Little People, then you’ll like this game. I wouldn’t like to live there, though, because I know if I tried to call the fire department for, oh, I don’t know…a real fire, they’d never show because they’re too busy helping the wrong people out of their apartments.
The novelty of playing as the Little People gets overshadowed quickly by the five-year-old mentality of the game. You’ll be wanting to throw them out of the windows after the first couple of levels.
If the happy fun-time circus title screen music doesn’t make you want to hit the mute button, then the repetitive engine sound will make you want to tomahawk yourself in the head.
Everything is detailed and plain. Three points docked for the ugly victory screen you get after completing one of the difficulty levels, two for the ugly outfits the Little People wear, and one docked for Kermit the Firefighter.
Middle of the road because everything beyond shoving the controller up your ass and jumping on your bed in a sitting position will have you easily playing the game. Even that will probably get you through the first two difficulty levels.
Replay Value: 3
If you’re a maze fiend like I am, then yes, you’ll love Firehouse Rescue. If not, you’ll hide this like the porno stash from your mom.