My quest to uncover hidden gems – as cheaply as possible – in the Wii’s enormous library continues. Not to be confused with Emergency Heroes, Emergency Mayhem is a much more slapstick-style romp through an insanely dangerous and malfunctioning city, overrun with disasters, crime…and monkeys. Where Emergency Heroes took itself quite seriously, Emergency Mayhem definitely does not.

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At first glance, you’d think that Emergency Mayhem would be the far lesser game. In playing it, however, you soon realise that nothing could be further from the truth. Though questionable in quality from a technical standpoint, Emergency Mayhem is a really fun game, evoking arcade greats such as Crazy Taxi with its open-ended, frantically against-the-clock driving.

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You’ll drive around Crisis City (which seems like a bit of a silly thing to name a city – the citizns are permanently on edge, to put it mildly) in either an ambulance, police car or fire engine. Missions are always visible no matter which emergency service they’re for, but can’t be undertaken unless you’re in the correct vehicle (which you switch between sessions).

There’s a nice variety of tasks, with ‘apprehending’ on-foot criminals (by ramming them), putting out fires or saving citizens from medical emergencies (which you’ll do in one of several minigames, some of which work better than others). There’s collectables in each area too, including monkeys that seem to have overrun the city (you collect these by ramming into them too – just don’t tell the RSPCA).

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Everything you do in Emergency Mayhem is done from your vehicle. There’s no on-foot shenanigans at all. As mentioned above, it has a very Crazy Taxi-esque vibe; there’s a really frantic feel to the game that rarely seems to dissipate, with a clock that always feels on the verge of running out. A neat touch is the voice of your dispatcher emanating from the Wii Remote’s speaker; a particularly noteworthy and hilarious moment can occur if you fail to successfully administer CPR to a dying citizen – I’ve heard the dispatcher say ‘Looooosssseeeeer!’ via the speaker, which seems pretty harsh, considering the tragic circumstances!

With loads of collectables and tasks to complete in each of the eight environments, there’s a lot to do in the single player mode. There’s also a party mode for up to four players, though I’ve yet to take this for a spin.

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Despite the not-exactly-stellar visuals (though it does run – or at least seems to – at a solid 60fps, which is pretty good for a Wii game) and some incredibly frustrating mini-games, I’d still say that Emergency Mayhem is worth a shot, especially given that it can be found so cheaply now (I got mine for £1). It’s certainly offers much more fun – and a better implemented driving control scheme – than its almost namesake, Emergency Heroes. It definitely goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Not when said book is so cheap, anyway!

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