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by THQ

Ep-GBC5.jpg (5662 bytes)I worry that one-day all toys will be replaced by their virtual counterparts. We have Barbie games, army men games, Lego games and Matchbox games. It’s probably heresy to say this on a video game website, but there just seems to be something wrong about a video game based on toys. Matchbox cars should be played with in the real world. It’s just that simple. Apart from the frustrations associated with substituting video games for the tactile experiences of playground play, I have to admit that I found Matchbox: Emergency Patrol to be a fun little game. Even though many elements of the gameplay and design feel very familiar, I don’t think that I’ve played anything quite like it.

ep6.jpg (7729 bytes)The premise of the game is fairly straightforward: you alternate between driving a police car, dealing with crooks of various ilk, and driving a fire engine, putting out fires throughout the town. Some of the challenges involve chasing other vehicles, while others have you seeking out a crime/fire in progress and dealing with it in a timely and efficient manner. This is a very kid oriented game. Even when chasing down bank robbers, you only shoot out a pair of handcuffs to keep them in place. There are no guns and no people dying. But with everything going on in the world, it’s kind of nice to have some bloodless entertainment every once in a while.

EP-GBC1.jpg (7956 bytes)This is an entertaining little game and I was surprised at how quickly I got into it. The real strength of the game lies in its variety. Not only do you have the different vehicles, but the missions all feel fairly distinct. It could get really old putting out the same fires again and again. The game even has two control schemes depending on how elaborate an experience you want to make it. It’s definitely not one of those games where you feel like you’ve played the entire game after just one level.

EP-GBC3.jpg (7228 bytes)The graphics are nice, nothing spectacular, but they certainly get the job done. The police car and fire engine look great and the fleeing criminals look just fine. There are some really nice details in the backgrounds like garbage cans that can get knocked around. I’m so used to having completely static environments in Game Boy games that when I knocked around some pylons I was genuinely surprised. The controls are also quite responsive.

EP-GBC2.jpg (9248 bytes)This is a game that is aimed at a younger audience and I reviewed with kids in mind. There isn’t a lot here for the seasoned, more mature player, but I really think that if kids can see there’s more to gaming than blowing stuff up they’ll really get a kick out of Matchbox: Emergency Patrol. There can be no question that the Game Boy Color is on the way out. Its capabilities just don’t hold a candle to the Game Boy Advance. But if Emergency Patrol is any indication, there’s still some life in the old boy just yet.

Jason Frank   (07/24/2001)


Ups: Great gameplay; cool interactive environments; ultra-nonviolence; multiple control schemes.

Downs: Gets a bit repetitive; appeals much more to a younger audience.

Game Boy Color


GamesFirst! Magazine