“ Genre: Driving & Racing / Release Date: 2006-01-20 / Published by Focus Multimedia Ltd „
Matchbox Emergency Patrol for the PC is a surprisingly good little game for younger players. It's best suited to those who are totally new to gaming, so could be good for a child aged from 4yrs old right up to 8yrs old, depending on their previous gaming experience. It retails for around £10 and isn't widely available these days since the Wii and PS3 etc tend to dominate. Not every child has one of those consoles though! We certainly didn't until recently. This game needs a PC with not too much memory or high graphics card or anything on it, but it does need to be used with an operating system of Win 98, Win ME or Win XP really. It almost certainly won't work with Vista or Windows 7.
The game is easy to get set up and you just install it using the onscreen instructions. Then to play the game, you follow the audio directions. For example you'll be told that you might need to go and put out a car on fire by the docks. You know what you've got to do then, and you just need to use the big green arrows to find your way to the docks. Putting the fire out is just a case of showing up to the fire really, so even very young kids will grasp this.
Controls are mostly just the arrow keys, and the vehicles move slow enough for amateurs to drive them but without dragging along like snails. To change vehicles (for example from fire engine to police car) you just drive up to the vehicle you want to drive and bang into in. Nice and easy for the little 'uns. I thought the graphics were rather decent in this considering it's quite an old game. They're not quite up to the modern games console standards, but they're certainly online with PS2 graphics. They move fluidly and the music is pretty reasonable too.
This wouldn't be worth £10 were it not for the fact that it looks like an older boy's game, while being deceptively easy to play. Other more modern takes on this, like Sam Power Firefighter for the DS, are a lot harder to play when you're brand new to video games. What you really want to do is just practice your hand-eye co-ordination driving around and following instructions - not trying to complete tasks you don't even understand! So in that respect I highly recommend this. It's a really easy yet decent introduction to video gaming.