A short but fun game for little kids.
[Editor’s Note: Since Jake Power: Fireman/Policeman are practically identical games, and James and Neal's tag-team review of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness/Time went so well, Neal and Lukasz decided to combine forces for another two-man review. –MC]
Luke: Jake Power: Fireman is part of Ubisoft's new series that lets kids live out the dream job of being a firefighter. The game is essentially a firefighter-themed mini-game compilation in which Jake must perform tasks such as dousing flames, rescuing cats, climbing up ladders, and stomping out flames.
Neal: In the Policeman version, Jake polices the city with his dinosaur sidekick, Dino, and reports to a wily chief. Instead of dousing flames and saving cats, Jake Power captures suspects and collects fingerprints as you play mini-games. The setting is juvenile, but for the age group Ubisoft is trying to target, it works well. There isn't much in Jake Power's story and tone that is different from any run-of-the-mill Saturday morning cartoon.
Luke: The mission structure consists of driving to the scene with a fire truck/police car, then playing mini-games to save the day.
Neal:Yeah, the game is nothing more than a series of mini-games, all of which are touch screen-based. Not all mini-games require its use, as the recurring driving game also features button control, but they all have the option. Like Luke said, each mission begins with the driving mini-game, in which you maneuver around cars to get to the scene of the crime/fire.
Luke:These driving segments have a linear progression, so the only thing the player has to worry about is dodging traffic and collecting stars for vehicles upgrades. A siren can be activated, which alerts traffic to move out of the way, though it is only useful when traffic has blocked you in all lanes. Once you have reached your destination, you play a series of firefighter or policeman-themed mini-games, and then move on to the next mission where you do the same thing.
Neal: The mini-games are all functional, but none of them have any real depth, and some of them become tedious. Almost all of them amount to tapping the stylus at things until you win. There are more interesting mini-games in Super Mario 64 DS, which came out four-and-a-half years ago. But my main complaint with the various mini-games is that their goals don’t become clear until after you play them. You are just thrown into a mini-game with no guidance about what to do. As you repeat mini-games, the problem eventually goes away. But then the game ends.
And that brings us to the other primary problem with this Jake Power duo: they both last about an hour, maybe two if you take your time.
Luke: Agreed. The biggest issue that I have with these games is their length. It took me about 45 minutes in one sitting to fully complete the game and unlock everything. There is no replay value outside of revisiting a mission, which is pointless because each mission is virtually the same.
Neal:Exactly! There are only about a dozen missions riddled with the same mini-games. What's more, your old pal Dino is who chooses the smattering of mini-games for you to go through, and sometimes the little lizard has the nerve to pick the same mini-game multiple times. You'll end up climbing up a ladder via the touch screen four times in a row!
Luke: If there is one thing I hated about these games aside from their length, it is Dino. Dino has one of the most irritating voices I have ever heard. Whenever I heard Dino say, "You got a star!", or during a mission briefing when Dino says, "We do this and that and that and finally that" to very basic visual aids, I cringed. This is one of the very few instances when I wanted to throw my DS at a wall.
Neal: There’s also very little challenge. The only way the game increases in difficulty is by shortening the time limits in later missions.
Luke: Jake Power: Fireman/Policeman isn't bad for young kids, as it certainly appeals to their tastes; however, the game's length makes it a rental at best.
Neal:While it is a short and simple game, Jake Power is good for the children's game that it is. In this case, it is best to judge the game by its cover, because this game's cover describes it all: a little kid in uniform flashing a badge amidst bright colors.