The Ignition Factor (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Jaleco | January 1995 | 8 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Jaleco | January 1995 | 8 MEGS

Many action games call the Super Nintendo home. But only one (that I can think of off the top of my head) contains no actual enemies. The Ignition Factor puts you into the shoes of a firefighter, fending off flames and rescuing helpless citizens. Your only enemy is fire (and breakaway pits). It’s also a bit of a thinking man’s game, with enough strategic elements to keep players constantly on their toes as they roam about the burning buildings, museums, mines and more.

Neat graphic design choice there!
Neat graphic design choice there!

Ignition Factor is the only North American SNES game I know of where the side of the box has a cool little graphic. It helps to make it stand out on a shelf as you’re thumbing through your collection looking for the next game to play. Hey, it’s the small stuff!

SIMILAR BUT NOT THE SAME

It's known as Fire Fighting in Japan
It’s known as Fire Fighting in Japan
Not to be confused with Human's Firemen
Not to be confused with Human’s Firemen

FMWitt2

The Firemen is considered to be something of a semi-cult hit in retro gaming circles. It used to be a lot more obscure but has since pick up a lot of steam in the past decade or so thanks to word of mouth. For the record, I consider Firemen to be the best fire fighting game on the SNES, but Ignition Factor is definitely the second best. Yes, I know there are really only two fire fighting games on the SNES but in all seriousness, Ignition Factor is definitely a decent little game.

It's no Firemen but it's an adequate alternative
Ignition Factor is no Firemen but it’s an adequate alternative
Good stuff
Good stuff

13 YEARS AGO…

7YearIt19

As readers of RVGFanatic may recall, I went through a Super Nintendo resurgence when I bought the system on January 17, 2006. On that same day I bought four games: Power Moves, Prehistorik Man, Ignition Factor and Fatal Fury Special. The Ignition Factor was my 3rd overall SNES game purchase, and earlier this month I finally got around to playing it. It only took me 13 years but it was nice to finally play it after all these years, especially on the 13 year anniversary itself.

THE STORY GOES…

IgnitF48

HELPFUL TIPS

IgnitF49

HELPFUL ITEMS

IgnitF51

IgnitF53

IgnitF52

IgnitF54

IgnitF55

IgnitF56

Sometimes ya just gotta spray 'em REAL good
Sometimes ya just gotta spray ‘em REAL good

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

IgnitFIgnitF1

 

 

 

 

 

Ignition Factor starts off hot with this blazing title screen. Sorry…

IgnitF2IgnitF2b

 

 

 

 

 

Bradshaw Steel Mill or Pygamalion Plaza — the choice is yours to make. It’s nice that Jaleco gave us some options, similar to the Mega Man games. After selecting your stage, place your firetruck at any one of four starting points. Naturally, this alters where you open up a given level. BTW, love that stylish 1994 computer :P

IgnitF3IgnitF3b

 

 

 

 

 

Examine items beforehand and pick the ones you want. You can only equip up to two active items at a time.

IgnitF4IgnitF4b

 

 

 

 

 

Barrels shoot upward and explode as you race across this platform. A sense of urgency is established right from the start.

IgnitF6IgnitF6b

 

 

 

 

 

Jumping in a top-down action game? Yes please! I’m always a sucker for that. Speaking of being a sucker, watch out for falling platforms over a scorching pit!

IgnitF7IgnitF7b

 

 

 

 

 

Remember, you can’t save the people if there’s no you. Don’t rush in or else…

IgnitF8IgnitF8b

 

 

 

 

 

Somebody wasn’t listening.

IgnitF9IgnitF9b

 

 

 

 

 

Similar to the barrels from DOOM, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.

IgnitF10IgnitF10b

 

 

 

 

 

Likewise, I would advise against bludgeoning your fellow comrades by way of axe. You’ll need them, especially for those all too important resupplies.

IgnitF11IgnitF11b

 

 

 

 

 

Certain items lay hidden on the floor. This was a bit annoying since there’s no indicator that an item is there ripe for the picking. A small visual marker, even if it was a flickering light, would have been appreciated.

IgnitF12IgnitF12b

 

 

 

 

 

ProTip: Blue flames can only be taken out with the electrical extinguisher. For your courageous efforts, the city immortalizes your bravery and tenacity.

IgnitF12cohmycar

 

 

 

 

 

Jaleco, I see you. Trying to be slick over there, aren’t cha?

IgnitF13IgnitF13b

 

 

 

 

 

Pygamalion Plaza is essentially Mannequins R Us

IgnitF14IgnitF14b

 

 

 

 

 

Damn… now I know how Michael Myers must have felt at the end of Halloween (2018). Um, are you POSITIVE that’s a mannequin? Looks more like a man who needs saving to me.

IgnitF15IgnitF15b

 

 

 

 

 

BITCH you cray cray. Ann woulda left your ass ages ago!

IgnitF16IgnitF16b

 

 

 

 

 

Please, allow me to knock some sense into ya…

IgnitF17IgnitF17b

 

 

 

 

 

Locked doors can be opened via brute force using the axe. As for Nancy, weeeeell… *nervous chuckle*

IgnitF18IgnitF18b

 

 

 

 

 

Avatars add a nice little touch to the game. There are a few puzzles scattered throughout the game, such as seen here. Hmm, how to save Old Man Jenkins there…

IgnitF20IgnitF20b

 

 

 

 

 

McGlone Mine is next. That DANGER!! sign is rather… apropos.

IgnitF21IgnitF21b

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a really cool swirly visual effect in the mine that ups the sense of urgency and angst. Watch out for weak patches of ground that break.

IgnitF22IgnitF22b

 

 

 

 

 

Beware of poisonous gas clouds that randomly pop up. Lean up against the wall if that helps ya! Also keep an eye on your oxygen supply. Better find one of your fire fighting friends fast for a fill-up.

IgnitF23IgnitF23b

 

 

 

 

 

Jurassic Park probably inspired the Dino Park. Sure there may be some gnarly exhibits here, but time is of the utmost essence! No time to stop and meander around.

IgnitF24IgnitF24b

 

 

 

 

 

Random small details are the best. Take, f’rinstance, this guy here flapping his jacket away in hopes of subduing the fire. Gotta give him props for trying. After Dino Park it’s off to Whitney Appliances, where the only dancing you’ll be doing is not with your old flame but a whole lotta flames!

IgnitF25IgnitF25b

 

 

 

 

 

Natural selection on full display here, folks. Instead of waiting to be saved, that fool’s crazy ass decides to walk straight into the fire. But it’s weird shit like this that kind of makes the game oddly endearing.

IgnitF26IgnitF26b

 

 

 

 

 

Gemini Towers is home to the game’s weirdest WTF moment. You’ll find a random dude near the telescope. Talk to him and he’ll urge you to look through it. No big deal, right? WRONG.

IgnitF27IgnitF27b

 

 

 

 

 

WHOA what the hell?! Out of nowhere the dude wallops you with a haymaker! It is so random and bizarre that I actually laughed out loud the first time I saw it. I love it when game developers include random weird stuff into their games.

IgnitF28IgnitF28b

 

 

 

 

 

Remorseful, he at least goes over to apologize after giving you a concussion. That’s nice of him. If you refuse to look through the telescope, he confesses that he started the fire. Hey Billy Joel, guess you were wrong after all. There’s our culprit!

We didn’t start the fire.
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning.
We didn’t start the fire.
No we didn’t light it.
But we tried to fight it.

IgnitF29IgnitF29b

 

 

 

 

 

Ignition Factor even breaks the 4th wall at one point! Video Games Magazine? Psh. That was an alright magazine, but gimme EGM or GameFan any day!

IgnitF30IgnitF30b

 

 

 

 

 

Gemini Towers has some cool bits where the screen becomes much smaller once you enter certain rooms. I’ve always enjoyed when games do this. EarthBound is a prime example of that technique.

IgnitF31IgnitF31b

 

 

 

 

 

COMING THROUGH! After saving the good folks trapped at Gemini Towers, it’s off to the Shylock Center.

IgnitF32IgnitF32b

 

 

 

 

 

Holding the shoulder button allows you to strafe. It also doubles as a lifesaving tactic where it allows you to see flames in other rooms even before entering.

IgnitF33IgnitF33b

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you just want to hide in your cubicle. But then you work up the courage to socialize a bit with your coworkers. And that’s when you find Frank and Ann getting it on down the hallway.

IgnitF34IgnitF34b

 

 

 

 

 

Appalled, you spray ‘em in a futile attempt to stop. When that doesn’t work, you decide to bust out the almighty axe. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. HR is gonna have fun with this one!

IgnitF35IgnitF35b

 

 

 

 

 

UHHHH, me too. How the hell are you still alive?!

IgnitF36IgnitF36b

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a cool Mega Man 2-like effect to this game where you can jump from room to room and the screen switches like such. It’s oddly satisfying.

IgnitF37IgnitF37b

 

 

 

 

 

Another mine stage, we’ve come to the Paris Mine.

IgnitF38IgnitF38b

 

 

 

 

 

WATCH YO STEP!

IgnitF39IgnitF39b

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic explosives will break thin walls.

IgnitF40IgnitF40b

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a password system thankfully. Although the game isn’t long, the levels can be tough to beat so it’s nice not having to repeat them. However, similar to B.O.B., you don’t get a password for every cleared stage. Instead, you get one every few levels. Still better than nothing, though. But the really cool thing is the secret pass code that unlocks the DM Headquarters. You might remember this level from Jaleco’s Peace Keepers. What a nice nod!

IgnitF41IgnitF41b

 

 

 

 

 

Before you get TOO excited [we wouldn’t want you to soil your undies -Ed.], this is the hardest stage by far. This is due to there being no comrades hanging around to restock your inventory. Once you’re out, you’re out. And that means a long road ahead. It’s a neat bonus but I definitely wish they made it a little easier.

IgnitF42IgnitF42b

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome Easter eggs abound when you come to a skirmish between Flynn and Lago from Peace Keepers! Jaleco with the unexpected fan service. I love when games cross over from the same development firm.

IgnitF43IgnitF43b

 

 

 

 

 

“YEAH KICK HIS ASS, FLYNN!” Another cool bit comes when one of the mutant enemies from Peace Keepers shows up. You just knew those broken glass containers was a bad sign…

IgnitF44IgnitF44b

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking you were safe behind the locked door, the creature gives you something to remember it by!

IgnitF45IgnitF45b

 

 

 

 

 

Popping up magically out of the floor, no place is safe. They’ll electrocute your ass if you’re not careful.

IgnitF46IgnitF46b

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, your water sprays appear to have zero effect on them.

IgnitF47IgnitF47b

 

 

 

 

 

Typically, an axe should suffice. But it doesn’t harm them in the least! Why, Jaleco, why? That makes no sense especially since you can easily beat them up with your bare hands in Peace Keepers. Although a neat bonus for sure, I can’t help but feel this was a bit of a wasted opportunity.

IgnitFCritIgnitFCrit2

 

 

 

 

 

Ignition Factor can be a fun but frustrating experience. It’s definitely geared toward more “hardcore” players as the brutal time limit leaves little room for exploring and certainly less room for error. Sure you can run but once you start carrying a certain amount of items, you can’t. Even if you can run, it’s dangerous since flames are all over the place. It’s one of those games that require repeated play and precision. Not the kind of relaxing game you’ll throw in when you just want something quick and easy. I wish there was an option to increase the time limit. Different difficulty levels would have made this game far more accessible.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

IgnitF58

The Ignition Factor won EGM’s Game of the Month award in issue #68 (March 1995). It garnered scores of 7, 8, 9 and 9. Despite that, it remains kind of obscure even in today’s retro gaming circles. When people talk about SNES fire fighting games, you usually hear about Firemen rather than Ignition Factor. It also came out during a bit of a funky time — the SNES began to lose some star power in early 1995 as the focus was shifting ever so slightly to the 32-bit war machines. The game was also never advertised to the moon so it’s no surprise it’s kind of been forgotten over the decades. When people do talk about it, it seems to elicit mixed reactions. Some consider it a hidden gem while others think of it as merely being decent. Others don’t like it at all and will tell you to stick to HUMAN’s Firemen. Personally, I think there’s definitely room for both titles in one’s collection.

IgnitF59

CLOSING THOUGHTS

IgnitFCT

13 years ago I got back into the SNES and on that same night, there was a seller on eBay auctioning off Ignition Factor. I had just bought Power Moves and Prehistorik Man from this seller, and I was ready to break the chain of “PM” games. I faintly remembered seeing Ignition Factor in rental stores back in the mid ’90s but it never quite resonated with me. I had less than a minute to decide as the auction was rapidly coming to a close so I quickly looked up pictures and it looked interesting enough, especially since the idea of fire fighting in video games has always intrigued me a bit. It arrived in the mail back in January 2006 and I remember thinking “I’ll get around to playing it soon enough.” Fast forward 13 years to January 2019 and well, it took me exactly that long to play it. But hey, mission accomplished :P

IgnitFCT3

It’s got a unique concept and the visuals are different from most other SNES games. They have sort of a European feel to them. Unfortunately, some stages look a bit bland and uninspired. There isn’t much music here; Jaleco opted for a more ambient soundtrack where the focus is on the backdrafts. Occasionally, a quick frenetic jingle plays with a voiceover that makes for a pretty cool effect, but it’s nothing special overall. I enjoyed the more strategic approach to the gameplay as you would have to switch from certain extinguishers to eliminate different flames. There are also a slew of items you can toggle between to aid you in your quest. The problem is it could easily have been handled better. To toggle items, you have to go to the menu and then make the appropriate switches. Dedicating a button to switch items would have made for a more seamless and enjoyable experience. That one simple change would have made a world’s difference.

IgnitFCT2

And as stated earlier, the timer is a bug up your ass. It would be fine if there were an option to adjust difficulty levels and thus time limits, but sadly there isn’t. Ignition Factor isn’t unbeatable, but it should have been made a little more accessible. There’s a bit to like here such as the strategic elements, the choice of levels and odd random quirky moment spread throughout, but there’s a noticeable lack of polish overall on the whole package that sours it all just enough to take it out of “hidden gem” contention. Still, there’s a decent game lying underneath the rubble if you’re dedicated and patient enough to tackle it head on.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 6
Longevity: 5

Overall: 6.0

Keeping the peace!
Keeping the peace!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>