Fantavision Review

By: John Doe

I'm having a hard time deciding what I like better, licking the terminals on a nine-volt battery or playing Sony's first party game for the PS2, Fantavision. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little but this game is a lot like Chinese food, it's tasty and it will fill you up but you will soon be empty inside yearning for more sustenance. Let me put it another way. If you bought a PS2 just to play Fantavision, then you clearly have more money than taste.


The concept of Fantavision is oddly original. It's essentially a puzzle game where you create an entire fireworks show by linking together an assortment of pyrotechnics by color and type of firework. There are many different categories of fireworks which create different light displays when exploded in the air. The show begins and you are awarded points by how creative your show is, based on your use of the available resources and how they interact with other selections. The climax of each game is the resulting fireworks display that plays itself out on your screen with obligatory hoopla.

Imagine the fun of calling in Grandma and Grandpa to show them what you've created.

"You didn't do that all by yourself did you?" they will exclaim in exasperated wonderment at the spectacular pageantry before them. As more people hear about your firework prowess, you may find yourself a local celebrity, on your way to bigger and better thing. You may even get offers for interviews and TV appearances. With Fantavision and your talents to chain together the most extraordinary light show, it's not inconceivable that you could eventually rule the planet. That's how Chairman Mao got his start. Check the history books.

My biggest complaint with Fantavision is not that it's a bad game, just that this is not the medium for it. The gunpowder explodes against a black backdrop into an assortment of comely colors and dazzling patterns. Does one really need the power of the PS2 to do this? It's like a joke that takes too long to get to the punch line. I will admit that these graphics do need something with substantial processing power to do them justice but it's basically much ado about not that much. Couldn't this game just be made into a board game and be done with it? This game would be better served as a virtual reality arcade game where you pay your money to see the pretty lights explode, have your fun and then go home. Even real fireworks get boring after a while. Why do you think they only have big fireworks shows one a year? Believe me, if there was a market for fireworks shows, the Earth would have been blown up long before we started destroying the ozone layer.

Dare I defend this game? Well it's probably not bad for young children or cranky adults but it's not designed with these people in mind. Seems that Sony thinks this will be another Tetris, so Fantavision does pack quite a challenging punch. You will need some quick reflexes and the ability to think ahead ala Tetris. Working with the different types of fireworks including Willows, Flashes, Wides, Daisy Flares and Peonies, you will learn how each behaves and how they react with or against each other. For instance Willows tend to branch out with particles from the main veins dripping down (or weeping) towards the Earth.

Two players can try to outdo each other. A split screen separates the competitors. It widens for the winner while taking away more area from the loser. It's tough to make a comeback when you're losing ground.

The concept for Fantavision has potential but it needs to evolve. I can't help thinking about it as a half-assed Tetris. Maybe the unexploded fireworks should be made to fall from the sky and stacked in order of color, category and size. Then they can be exploded for the big scoring finale. I would be a lot happier and a lot less prone to violence. I really can't imagine how they could turn this concept into a blockbuster, but combining it with an RPG or a skateboard game is not the solution. It's nice to have the occasional non-violent game which uses other areas of your brain, so I really hope that Sony can refine or rethink this concept. I don't know how to make this game better, but I'll let you know when it gets there.






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