Emergency Mayhem Review

Emergency Mayhem is an example of how not to make a minigame collection.

Emergency Mayhem proves the age-old theory that if you can't think of a good name for your town, you shouldn't name it Crisis City. That's just asking for trouble. The problems facing this bustling metropolis go far beyond an inadvisable name, though. Even the raging garbage fires on every corner and an epidemic of nails lodged in the intestines of careless citizens aren't the biggest issues here. Technology is the true enemy of Crisis City. The visuals wouldn't have looked out of place on the Nintendo 64 (sans Expansion Pak), and the motion controls vary between overly sensitive and completely unresponsive. These issues make the crimes and health risks cropping up all over town seem like little more than stubbed toes.

At least slamming into people is mildly amusing.
At least slamming into people is mildly amusing.

Emergency Crisis is a free-roaming minigame adventure that has you take control of one of three emergency vehicles: an ambulance, a fire truck, and a police car. Once you select a vehicle, you are set loose in an open world brimming with people in need of help. Driving around the city in a nearly weightless car while you mow down lackadaisical pedestrians and run slow-moving cars off the road is easily the high point of this otherwise brutally challenging adventure. You won't be able to spend much time terrorizing the people you are tasked to protect, though. With a timer quickly counting down the seconds you'll have to enter missions to progress further in the game. If you want to progress.

Though each vehicle has its own specialties, they all share one common mission type: drive from one point to another. While the other, nondriving missions range from extreme repetition that incites carpal tunnel syndrome to nerve-racking tasks that would make a brain surgeon shake with frustration, the driving missions are merely bland and unobtrusive. These are broken up into three different categories: drive somewhere within a certain time limit, drive somewhere without crashing too much (this is the least entertaining), and drive somewhere without any restrictions at all. Driving around the same environment over and over again is hardly fun, but it feels like a welcome reprieve when you consider the other tasks that are out there.

The ambulance-specific missions are nearly impossible. Most of these missions have you fishing various objects out of people, and they are all excruciating. The most frustrating mission finds a rusty nail lodged in the belly of some foolish, foolish man. Using the pointing feature to aim your Wii Remote at the screen, you have to attach the nail to a magnet and slowly wind your metal foe through the victim's digestive system. The business end of the magnet has squiggly lines billowing out of it to indicate where the magnetic charge is strongest. Coincidentally, this is the exact size and shape of the imbedded nail. You have to engulf the nail entirely in the magnetic field, sticking it loosely to your operating tool. Here's where it gets interesting. Sometimes the nail will fall off if you get too close to the intestinal lining. If the angle of the nail shifts even slightly, you won't be able to pick it up again. Trying to navigate through a narrow labyrinth with zero margin for error just isn't fun.

There's no point in boring you with more details of the extremely frustrating ambulance missions, but suffice it to say, they are all unforgivably difficult. When a minigame deems you a failure if you simply move your unsupported hand a centimeter in any direction, there is a serious problem. And though the other two vehicles don't feature these stress-inducing motion-controlled minigames, they still lack even the vaguest hint of fun. Rapidly wiggling the Wii Remote to either put out a garbage fire (as the fire truck) or inflate a flat tire (as the police car) grew tiresome shortly after the Wii launched.

Why are people swallowing nails anyway?
Why are people swallowing nails anyway?

Though the moldy visuals will not deter you from enjoying this game to the same extent that the broken controls and repetitive mission structure do, they are still irredeemably awful. From blurry textures pasted on every solid structure, to character models completely devoid of detail, Emergency Mayhem is one of the ugliest current-generation games around. It's not surprising at all that this game started life on the PlayStation 2 more than six years ago. Development time may have been better spent bringing the graphics up to modern standards rather than implementing frustration-fueled motion controls.

Not even a multiplayer mode can make these treacherous minigames shine. In fact, playing Emergency Mayhem with more people makes the game even worse. The main problem is that you have to compete in the same tired minigames from the single-player mode. The mildly fun driving missions have been completely removed in this mode, replaced with one arduous task after another until one person decides to throw the match and end the torment.

Emergency Mayhem is a complete failure. The fact that many games properly use motion controls makes the problems in Emergency Mayhem even more damning. There is no reason to play this minigame collection.

The Good
Driving around aimlessly isn't awful
The Bad
Some minigames have overly sensitive controls
Others are completely unresponsive
Almost no variety
Wildly uneven difficulty
Extremely dated graphics
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Emergency Mayhem More Info

  • First Released Apr 15, 2008
    • Wii
    Emergency Mayhem will cast you as an emergency service team who must respond to problems and keep the city from falling apart.
    Average Rating73 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Supersonic Software
    Published by:
    Driving/Racing, Arcade
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief