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.
i've spent the last hour thinking about a driving (not racing) pc game that @maddii_nghtmre and i used to be obsessed with in the early 2000s and i won't be able to stop thinking about it until i can remember what it was called.
— Lav Baj (@lavosaurus) May 30, 2021
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.