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Like the companion PC title, Matchbox Emergency Patrol for Game Boy Color provides play as both police officer and firefighter, as players control a miniature patrol car or fire engine through many typical city environments. To save the day and make the Matchbox Mayor happy, kids must accept and complete a variety of missions within a given time limit. The Mayor rewards success, by granting larger jurisdictions, and players move up in rank from rookie to chief.
Streets, alleys, parks, highways, parking lots, and buildings comprise most of the areas, while civilian vehicles drive the roads and pedestrians traverse the sidewalks and parks. Players can become familiar with the available areas by touring them before beginning the game. Once they are ready to accept a mission, a dispatcher gives a briefing in the form of text messages at the bottom of the screen. Three types of missions are assigned for each department. As a police officer, either a Hot Pursuit, a Round Up, or a Patrol mission is assigned. In a Hot Pursuit mission, players must chase a getaway car and bump it three times to prevent escape. During a Round Up, criminals are attempting to escape a crime scene on foot and players must launch handcuffs from their cars to detain them. While on a Patrol mission, a certain number of flags need to be collected as the police car is driven around the city.
Similar missions are assigned for the firefighter and include Fire Fight, Code Red. and Patrol. In Fire Fight, the player must find a burning building and put out the blazes. Code Red has players following the fire chief to a specific destination, and Patrol is the same flag-collecting mission as in the police version. Each mission is timed, with up to three stars being awarded depending on the speed of completion. After finishing a set of three missions, as either policeman or firefighter, the available areas of the city expand. Area expansion continues until the entire city is accessible and the rank of chief has been earned. ~ Jennifer Beam, All Game Guide