The Firemen is set in the near future of 2010, where civilization has lost much of its will to progress further technologically and is in a state of stagnation which has lasted 20 years. The setting is the Metrotech Chemical Company building, based in New York, which is celebrating their annual Christmas party when a small fire begins in the kitchen of the building and quickly grows in strength due to the abundance of chemicals surrounding it.
D-Sector Firemen, Pete and Daniel, are immediately dispatched to the burning building to tackle the rapidly spreading fire. They are supported from outside the building by Max, Walter and Winona, who advise them on their situation and analyse the dangers from afar using hi-tech surveillance technology. Together, they work together to extract the most dangerous chemical, MDL, from the basement of the ablaze building and must take it to the roof before the flames reach it, potentially causing a huge explosion.
The Firemen has a distinctive gameplay system that is reminiscent of more recent games such as Mario Sunshine. The player's firefighter is equipped with a water cannon backpack, and can adjust their water stream from long-distance stream to short-distance spray. It is necessary to use each of these different settings, as the firefighters are surrounded at all times by fire, and there are bonuses for clearing a level entirely of any flames. The player must also top up their water levels by moving to a water source and refilling the tank. In addition to the tank, there's a supply of water bombs, which clear the screen of any fire. These are limited to two or three, however, and are difficult to find.
As Pete and Daniel move from room to room within the Macrotech Building, they encounter unconscious employees. They must clear an area of fire before the employee will awaken and move to safety, and this gets gradually more difficult as the game goes on. Also, as well as the constant threat of fire, there are malfunctioning cleaning robots and other machinery, which will strive to harm the firefighters. Traditional end-of-level bosses are also included, and usually come in the form of "bigger" fires with weak spots and clear attack patterns.
Limited Release and Sequel
The Firemen is unusual, as it was only released in Japan and Europe officially, with the US missing out on release entirely. Little explanation was given for this, and the title did not sell well in either territory. However, a little-known PlayStation sequel, Firemen 2: Pete and Danny, was released in Japan. However, like the SNES original it did not sell well and remains a rare collector's item.