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Emergency: Disaster Rescue Squad Reviewed

Emergency! Disaster Rescue Squad for the DS. Developer: Sixteen Tons, Publisher: Destineer

Although the genre is largely overlooked by critics, fans must adore the time-management simulation. How else could one explain the proliferation of operation supervision titles like Cake Mania, Sally’s Salon, and Diner Dash? Each is strikingly similar, requiring players to prioritize a situation that becomes ever-increasingly hectic. As the aforementioned titles indicate, even the game’s settings offer little more than variations on a form. Surely, the genre could be contextualized to introduce locales beyond restaurants, cake shops, and beauty parlors.

Cleverly, the developers of Emergency! Disaster Rescue Squad have used the time-management blueprint to create a simulation where the player must coordinate a team of fire, paramedic, and police teams. The title isn’t perfect- at times immersion if broken by the title’s rigidity, but it is a refreshing change of pace for DS owners, and moves the action to an outdoor setting. 

Each of the game’s five disaster locations has four related scenarios that extend from a three car traffic accident to a devastating earthquake. Players must assess and prioritize the situation; for example, fires must be extinguished before paramedics can safely come to the aid of the injured. Players use the stylus to select a unit, and a second tap opens a radial menu. Each response team has a sizable number of actions; firefighters can use an extinguisher, chainsaw, hose, jaws of life, or axe.

The game does little to hide its European roots- one level takes place at a ‘petrol’ station, while the game refers to the injured as ‘casualties.’ While denotatively correct, I was slightly puzzled as to why the dead needed medical attention. Before long, I looked beyond the game’s quirky localization, and become immersed in the title’s demanding gameplay.

While controlling fire crews, debris clearing trucks, and paramedics was enjoyable, the title faltered when police investigations were required. One early level had a team of officers interrogate park-goers, in an attempt to arrest three gangsters. In an overtly simple digression, I interviewed suspects, who would either implicate or vindicate other nearby park patrons. Basic reading skills were all that was required to detain the hoodlums; I would have preferred a dialogue tree of interrogation questions, rather than the reductionism of canned suspect responses.

Graphically, the game is surprising strong Nintendo DS entry. The top screen is used to show character portraits and display objective information, while gameplay in handled on the bottom display. Emergency! uses a hand-drawn, three quarter view that is quite attractive; buildings, cars, and landscapes are impressively detailed. The title’s one visual downfall is the minimal amount of unit animation which exhibit the fluidity of a older RTS game. Parents worried about the gruesomeness of the game have little to worry about. Although the title features plane crashes, auto pileups and industrial blazes, there is no blood or gristle. Emergency wisely keeps the game’s camera in an elevated, omniscient position.

Overall, Emergency! Disaster Rescue Squad is an enjoyable experience that offers short bursts of intense planning and prioritizing. While some players may overlook the title based on its $19.99 MSRP, and pedestrian cover art they would be making an impetuous mistake. Although Emergency! has the markings of DS a  shovelware title, the game is a pleasing diversion that will appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to direct a team of crisis respondents.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

29 comments

  1. Sounds like an RTS game without the enemies or unit selection options.

  2. How come the title scren just says “Emergency” with out the rest of the title and with no exclamation point?

  3. Looks like Syndicate graphics.

  4. Causalities doesn’t mean dead people? I’ve always hear there were “X number of casualties” meaning a certain amount of people were killed.

  5. Charlie Browneye

    Probably localization stuff, like the review said.

  6. How’s the fire look, if the animation isn’t too good?

  7. Never heard of this one.

  8. I think Americans use the term to mean the dead, when it actually includes the injured as well.

  9. Thanks for the review. At $19.99 this hits the right price point, although I don’t know about how much I’ll like the game, personally.

  10. Aussies use the term petrol, too.

  11. WTF? Is this game even out? I’ve never heard of it!

  12. Looks like a lot of the family site are reviewing the game. This is one of the first mainstream reviews I’ve read for it.

  13. I might get this one for the kids. What age group could handle the game play?

  14. Thanks, guys!

    This is one of the best reviews I’ve read for the game. The IGN review didn’t even really talk about the good and bad points. I think the writer played a single level or two and wrote the review.

    Bravo to you for really digging into the game.

  15. Could be interesting. I’ll wait for a clearance sale, though.

  16. Great review. I’m interesting in the game, although Gamestop isn’t taking preorders. Maybe Amazon will ant my money.

  17. Hows the replay value on the game?

  18. Usually I have no interest in “E” rated games. This one is the exception.

  19. Love the games viewing angle. Why don’t more DS games use that perspective?

  20. Glad to hear the only Disaster is in the title!

    Got to complete with Deagle.

  21. This site always gives a comprehensive review…you guys mention gliches and why a game is worth the MSRP.

    Makes me want to give this title a chance!

  22. Too many corny puns on this site…

  23. I might have to grab this one for next week’s commute. I’ve been going through a DS game every two weeks or so.

  24. Can you control helicopters or swat teams? If not they need that for the sequel.

  25. I have yet to find a recent handheld RTS game.

  26. Do people die in the game? I’m wondering how this could get a “E” rating due to the subject matter.

  27. They don’t show any blood, like the review says.

  28. Cant find this one anywhere.