A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is targeted at little boys ages 5-8 who like action games. Players can only play as Jake Power with no option to be a female firefighter. While Jake does have to fight fires, he is never injured, and no one ever dies. It has just the right balance of showing the seriousness of fires going out of control without scaring the player. The player is tasked with putting out the fire or rescuing the person or animal in trouble, so they end up feeling like a hero.
What's it about?
For little boys who love to pretend to be firefighters, JAKE POWER: FIREMAN is a great fit. The game lets boys control Jake Power as he learns to be a fireman. Jake goes on a series of missions which see him rescuing a cat, fighting lots of fires, and even stopping water from leaking from the town's water tower. The 12 rescue missions are made up of a series of firefighting minigames.
Kids can choose to simply go on the missions or play them in a story context. In both modes, each mission always start with a race through the city streets, where kids get to drive the fire rescue vehicle as it weaves between traffic while deciding when to blow the siren to make cars get out of the way. The rest of the mission is played out by exploring several minigames, which rotate, depending on the mission. Kids will use the stylus and the microphone to play the minigames. Winning the minigames earns stars, which can be used to unlock new accessories to be put on the fire engine.
Is it any good?
This game does a great job of showing kids some of the jobs that firemen perform. And it does it in a manner that is exciting but never too scary. The sound effects and music create a sense of urgency but most of the minigames are pretty simple to win so that you can complete the rescue mission. The minigames are quite creative in figuring out ways to get kids involved in the actions of a firefighter. For example, kids will put out fires by tapping on the flames that leap out of buildings, or spraying erupting fires with a fire hose. In another mingame, kids will unwind hoses by following prompts on the screen to draw a circle in a clockwise or counterclockwise manner. They can even control Jake's fire-resistant boot and stomp out flames.
A minor flaw is that you have to succeed at each minigame before proceeding forward, but if you fail, you can replay the minigame as many times as need be. The adventure mode adds a zany story about fire-inducing hamburgers. If you have a little boy who reveres firemen, pick this one up. It is quite well done.
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