Real Heroes: Firefighter originally launched on Wii and PC in 2010, and later came to Nintendo 3DS. I reviewed that particular port back in 2013 and gave it the lowest score I’d ever handed out. Six years later and the game has reared its head again, this time launching on Nintendo’s hybrid. A console with enough grunt to host the likes of DOOM, The Witcher 3 and Skyrim surely has enough under the hood to accommodate Real Heroes?
This time around I was actually able to finish the game – not something that could be said of my time with the Nintendo 3DS version, due to horribly iffy controls and general frustration. That’s to say that the Switch port does improve upon its source material in a technical aspect, yet it must be said that the game itself remains largely the same.
I spent the first hour of the game playing with the Switch hooked up to a TV, which proved to be a mistake. Whilst playing in TV mode, the game forces its Wii-era control scheme onto you with gyro controls in charge of the aiming instead of the right stick. This worked well for shooters on Wii with its infra-red sensor bar offering a true central location for the pointer. The Switch version instead uses the right Joy-Con’s gyroscope, which all too often falls out of sync and needs to be re-centred by pushing the R button; not the easiest button combination when you’re also holding ZR to activate your hose. After an hour I was hit with a bout of motion sickness and I called it a night.
For my next ‘shift’ I decided to give the game a go in handheld mode, and it’s here that the game is more playable than it’s ever has been. Gone are the Wii version’s horrendous motion controls and the 3DS’s fiddly touch-screen controls, and instead a simple press of the ZR button performs each of the game’s primary actions. No shaking the controller to swing the axe, and no unnecessary jabbing and twisting to pry open jammed elevator doors. Everything is done with a simple button press and the game is more enjoyable for it. Why this control scheme isn’t available as an option whilst playing on the TV is beyond me (and if it is, I couldn’t find it anywhere).
The stupid AI is still stupid: characters will still stand gawping at a single flame when there’s a clear path around it, and doors will arbitrarily remain locked until every square meter of flame has been extinguished from your current location.
Most environments are still mundane, however its visuals have been given a ‘stylised’ comic book effect which are somewhat juxtaposed with the gritty subject matter. The developer has clearly attempted to alleviate this with onomatopoeia callouts to accompany certain sound effects, but I think it’s merely a lazy alternative to actually remastering the formerly-realistic graphics for a HD system. Again, the voice acting holds up well, but the script remains unchanged and so retains its cheesy – borderline distasteful – sense of humour.
By the time I’d accustomed myself with the game’s quirks, and started to look past the technical shortcomings, I had entered the game’s final two levels which actually proved to be quite enjoyable. Gone are the dreary office blocks and uninspired residential homes, and instead you’re rescuing victims from cars on a collapsing bridge. It finally introduces a sense of urgency and adds a bit of weight to what is otherwise an extremely shallow game … and then it’s over.
Real Heroes: Firefighter (Nintendo Switch) Verdict
To summarise the game in layman’s terms, it’s plain dull for three quarters of its duration, and then just ‘okay’ for the remainder, ending just as it starts to find its feet. At least it’s technically playable this time around, with no frame drops or issues in the performance department, but the game itself just isn’t worth playing.