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First started in late 2007, Kasey's Mobile Game Review (then just a regular feature of Kasey's Korner) started as a simul-post between here and IGN. Later I realized there's no reason to post it twice, when I can use the traffic on my own site. so, here we are, in 2010, and the mobile game industry has grown a bit. What do you think?

Review of Emergency Mayhem (mobile)

Police Car LightsImage by davidsonscott15 via Flickr
Emergency Mayhem lets you drive one of three emergency vehicles (police, fire, ambulance) around the city, responding to emergencies, which is basically 2D driving game, leading up to a minigame as the emergency. There are only six minigames total, so you can be sure you'll get bored VERY quickly.The result is boring, boring, boring.

The premise is fine: driving around the city with one of the 3 emergency vehicles, and respond to various crises. This port of the hit on Wii felt just too easy, too lazy. Part of the charm on the Wii and other consoles is the variety of minigames (hunt the escaped monkey in a toy store, any one?) and the city to explore. The transition from 3D driving to 2D lost all the charm, esp. when the streets are reduced as well. However, the difficulty have not decreased: you still get outages on certain streets (randomly from day to day) which will affect your route planning. So should I drive the fire engine to this next fire, or should I take care of some OTHER emergency, letting the truck go back to the station, and leave the fire for a while? Same decision and tension still applies, but the "reward" is severely reduced.

It doesn't matter that the vehicles have uniqueness... They don't drive that differently. Supposedly you can "collect" "red alerts", which can be used on vehicles differently. The police car is light and agile, and if you hit the red alert siren all civilian cars pulls off to side of the road within a block. Ambulance is a bit heavier, and the "red alert" siren just makes you go faster (like a turbo boost). Finally, the fire engine is really heavy and ponderous, but the red alert siren actually pushes civilian cars away from you. Sounds interesting, but in reality they only work on a screen's worth of cars, and you only have like max of five of these siren blasts (you "earn" them in the minigames) so you don't really use them much, as the traffic is light enough as is. Though sometimes you have to detour around street closures (but sometimes, you can crash through the barriers).

Did I mention that any collision damage (to civilian cars, to telephone poles, parking meters, trees, benches, and whatnot) are counted? $5 here, $10 there... so on and so forth. They're deducted from your budget as you go.

So the idea is drive from where the vehicle is (either in the police HQ, hospital, or fire HQ) to the incident, via the shortest route. If there's more than one incident of your type... you'll have to decide which one to go to first, while the other one gets a little bigger! The idea is the earlier you arrive on scene, the more $$$ you can earn from the minigames. The later you arrive, the less time you'll have to do the deeds, and less $$$ you can make.

The minigames are where you earn your $$$. There are six minigames, most of which are boring, to be honest, and involves a minimum of button pushing. Each branch have two minigames.

Police 1: Animal Crossing -- escaped zoo animals are crossing a street. Hold off passing traffic for X seconds. The catch is there are FIVE LANES, in two directions, for a total of TEN possible incoming traffic locations you need to block. And animals don't exactly move at a brisk pace. If you let even ONE through, you'll lose several animals.

Police 2: Hostage Negotiation -- criminals and hostages are appearing in the windows of this building. Shoot the criminals before they shoot you! Repeat until time expires. It's basically whack-a-mole, enough said.

Fire 1: Put out the fire -- direct the hose to put water into the window(s) on fire. Do it as fast as possible, and save the guy trapped by the fire. Repeat until time expires. Again, whack-a-mole variation, except with a water hose.

Fire 2: Bouncing evacuees -- people are jumping off a burning building. Place the cushions below them to bounce them to a safe landing offscreen. The problem is there are four different heights people can jump from, and obviously the closer they are to the ground, the quicker they'll hit, and you can't afford to have many hit the ground.

Ambulance 1: poison gas detox -- people evacuating from the building are overcome by poison gas. You need to detox them before they suffocate. The problem is they often stagger for a few moments before collapsing on the ground, thus forming into several "queues", and you need to process each "queue" in the order of arrival, not merely by the appearance order.

Ambulance 2: wheelchair evac -- transport patients across a busy street in a wheelchair, and return and repeat. Absolute unrealistic and kinda stupid, in fact.

The problem with this is the idea that the emergency services must "earn money" by performing their duty to allow the city to survive makes absolutely no sense at all. It feels hokey and artificial. The paring of minigames to these 6 less-than-stellar samples is a further disgrace.

All in all, Emergency Mayhem is a pretty lousy port, that manages to do a technically proper port, but lost all sense of what made the game fun. The result is a lousy game.

If you must have a rating, I'd say D, or 6 out of 10: barely adequate.
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