As the debut title for the Sega Hikaru arcade system in June 1999, it was the first game to use Phong shading, a shading technique that is now ubiquitous in 3D games. In comparison, the PC was not capable of effective Phong shading until the ATI Radeon graphics card released in 2002 and consoles could not until the Xbox 360 in 2005. By the mid-2000s, Phong shading eventually replaced Gouraud shading as the most common shading technique in the video game industry.
The game also had the most sophisticated particle effects of its time. According to Sega in an August 1999 press release: "Brave Firefighters utilizes a slightly modified Naomi Hardware system called Hikaru. Hikaru incorporates a custom Sega graphics chip and possesses larger memory capacity then standard Naomi systems. "These modifications were necessary because in Brave Firefighters, our engineers were faced with the daunting challenge of creating 3d images of flames and sprayed water," stated Sega's Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Barbara Joyiens. "If you stop and think about it, both have an almost infinite number of shapes, sizes, colors, levels of opaqueness, shadings and shadows. And, when you combine the two by simulating the spraying of water on a flame, you create an entirely different set of challenges for our game designers and engineers to overcome; challenges that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to overcome utilizing existing 3D computers. Hikaru has the horsepower to handle these demanding graphic challenges with clarity, depth and precision."
In September 1999, IGN stated that "the environments are more detailed than House of the Dead 2, and the fire effects are the best we've ever seen." [ref]
In addition, the Sega Hikaru also had the most advanced lighting effects of its time. It was capable of four light sources per polygon and up to 1024 light sources per scene, more than what consoles or PC graphics cards could do for the next several years.