Please, Somebody Remaster Matchbox Emergency Patrol

Please, Somebody Remaster Matchbox Emergency Patrol
Image: Matchbox Emergency Patrol

In the midst of Melbourne’s COVID lockdown and everything else that has happened this week, only one thing has been able to live rent free in my mind: Matchbox Emergency Patrol.

Earlier this week while perusing the internet for something to write for this here website, I accidentally unlocked a weird portion of my brain that has spent the last 20 years thinking about nothing other than this god forsaken game. Days later, I am still unable to think about anything else.

After spending an hour trying to remember what this iconic game was called, a kind Twitter user replied to my incredibly vague description and informed me of the title. But if you thought this was the end of my weird obsession with a game that is old enough to buy itself a beer, think again.

Since Monday morning, I have fallen deep, deep down the rabbit hole of this game that is essentially Grand Theft Auto: But You’re 6 Years Old And Your Dad’s A Cop.

Much like many of my favourite games as a child (see: The Simpson’s Hit & Run and Grand Theft Auto), I completely ignored the actual premise of Matchbox Emergency Patrol and simply drove around choosing which house I “owned”, driving to fields of cows and watching them fly across the sky and driving underwater instead of, you know, saving people in emergency situations.

I assume the game was designed to encourage children to pursue careers in emergency services. But for me? It was simply a vroom vroom game of “let me see how many cows I can hit with my firetruck”.

Until I watched a longplay on YouTube, I couldn’t have even hazarded a guess as to what the actual premise of the game was.

And honestly, amid all of the ongoing chaos of Melbourne’s fourth (and hopefully final) lockdown, I feel a serious need for a mindless car game. No racing, no objective, just driving.

The graphics look like they were whipped up on Microsoft Paint with your eyes closed. The physics of buildings are super off. The controls are wonky compared to more recent driving games like GTA V. 

Would I play the absolute shit out of this if they it? Absolutely.

So to Koch Media/Embracer Group/whatever company bought the rights off THQ when it collapsed, I am begging you to bring back this game – and with it – my serotonin.


  • Sup, get into Monster Hunter Rise if u want something to play during lockdown. Heaps of fun also the Monster Hunter community is great, people help newbies with hunts.

  • Recommendations for mindless car games:
    • Burnout Paradise – great to just cruise around knocking things over or trying stunts if you don’t want to do races, plus you can play with friends.
    • Omnibus – a silly game where you are just an unstoppable bus knocking things over.
    • Absolute Drift – a chill minimalist top-down driving game about drifting (predecessor to Art of Rally).
    • Aquadelic GT – a little-known 2008 game that was added to Steam several years back – it’s an open world boat racing game that, like Burnout Paradise, lets you just cruise around at your leisure if you don’t want to trigger any challenges.

    I think Lego City Undercover might also be good for free roaming and also has more of the toybox aesthetic compared to the likes of GTA or Just Cause.

    I would also recommend Sea of Thieves – it’s not just a mindless car game, but I feel that once you get a handle on the controls you can get a similar sort of vibe from just casually sailing (barring the intermittent hostile encounters, though as far as I can tell from several discussions, the AU/NZ servers usually have a less toxic player base)

  • oh WOW, talk about a blast from the past, I used to be OBSSESSED with this game when I was a kid, but I also seem to have repressed it from my memory until right this second…

    But wow that game looks so much rougher than I remember it being. You’re right though, we need more arcade style non-racing driving games in general really

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