THE FIREMEN / Human / SNES
Here's another game that came out of the short-lived "Human Creative School" (also responsible for S.O.S., which we've looked at recently). Basically, picture the overhead levels of Contra 3, but instead of gunning down aliens you are a firefighter hosing down a blaze that's broken out in a large office building.
The game is interesting, in that it uses common shooter mechanics, but without the usual shooter trappings of militarism and ultra-violence (proving you can have the fun without the cliches). The main character is Pete, a firefighter with a miraculous tank of water that never depletes (perhaps borrowed from Mario). You can spray a continual beam straight ahead, spray the floor, duck to crawl under pipes and desks, and chuck a finite supply of "water bombs" that do great damage in a concentrated area. Tagging along with you is Danny, who I believe can be controlled by a second player(?). Danny uses an axe to chip away at any fire he comes across, and also (at least when controlled by the AI) seems to be completely impervious to both burns and explosions, which comes in pretty handy.
There's an ongoing narrative as Danny and Pete stay in touch with their headquarters, who guide them through the building as they make several attempts to crack open a giant water tank on the roof. The game is mostly linear, but there are a few survivors lying in sometimes out-of-the-way spots whom you can rescue for bonus points. The game doesn't encumber itself with realism, as the end of each stage features a sort of fire-beast that chases the main characters around (one even turns into a fire dragon and flies around the room).
My only real gripes with the game are that the soundtrack is pretty lame, and while you are able to move while shooting in a fixed direction by holding down R, it would have been nice to be able to rotate as well (L button could have easily been used for this). It makes the boss battles a bit clunkier and harder than they need to be, but that's a minor nitpick. Otherwise, the game has a very decent presentation and is pretty fun to play. It's kind of short, and you have to run through it all at once, leading to it having not too much replay value, but since you'll likely just be downloading a ROM of it anyway that's not much of a concern.
* Gameplay Video