December 7, 2000
You know I don't think that there is more then a handful of people in the world that don't like fireworks. They are loud, colorful and very exciting to watch. Why is it then that they have rarely appeared in video games? Perhaps it's because you can't easily reproduce the real thing. Fantavision however, allows you to create a fireworks display by linking together chains of fireworks of the same colour. It may sound simple but it soon becomes frantic as you detonate 20 shells in a row.
The first time you play Fantavision you may start looking for the keys to the car to return the game. It seems underwhelming, boring even. But as you learn the rules there is no denying that this game becomes truly addictive and in the higher difficulty, frantic. The idea is simple enough. You must link up at least three of the same colour fireworks shells (red, blue or green) which are automatically shot into the air for you. There is also a multi-coloured firework which allows you to link up different colours to create more spectacular explosions. For instance, you can link up Green-Green-Green-Multi-Red. As you create longer links bonuses will appear. These inlcude bonus points, energy and a star. If you manage to collect 8 stars within a level you will enter a bonus stage called "STARMINE" where you can create spectacular chains of over 100 fireworks. The game ends when you run out of energy which is slowly depleted when you don't manage to set off the shells before they fizzle out.
Much of the enjoyment in this game can be found in the 2-player mode. This mode divides the screen in 2 with a white line which allows you to only link fireworks on your side. As you set off larger chains the line moves towards your opponent to increase your area while reducing his. Several new bonuses appear in this mode including a firework, which will rotate the whole screen. This is especially handy if your opponent has a much larger portion of the screen to work in.
Perhaps Fantavision did start it's life as a glorified particle effects demo for the Playstation 2. This attention to detail shows as you slowly move through a city, space or other environments detonating the fireworks over the skyline. During the game you will be too busy to notice the beauty of the fireworks, but an excellent replay mode allows you to sit back and watch the show from a variety of angles and with special effects such as rain, fog, snow or a moody atmosphere that reduces the background light. These replays can also be saved to memory card so you can watch them whenever you wish.
One of the more disappointing aspects of this game is the sound. While the music is adequate I feel that the fireworks sound a little muffled. Stand next to a real fireworks display and the explosions are sharp and send shockwaves through your body. In Fantavision the explosions don't have the same impact, and before you ask, yes I have an expensive amplifier and speaker setup.
Fantavision really is the surprise of the Playstation 2 launch. Out of nowhere comes this great little puzzle game that isn't just a particle effects demo as many have suggested. Playing the game is fairly simple although the pace will soon become frantic as you try to detonate all the fireworks on screen before they fizzle out. Fantavision is an excellent puzzle game, it looks great and is a lot of fun to play. What more could you ask. Go buy it.