Somewhere out there, if you look hard enough, you can find a game for everything. For example, on the Wii rip-off console Vii, you can indulge in what must be a fascinating and absorbing little number named “Fry Egg”. If your taste runs more to fireworks, however, you can indulge yourself more officially with early Playstation2 game Fantavision- a sure way to beat any withdrawal you might feel after Letterbomb Fireworks night and New Year celebrations.
In the world of Fantavision, it is your responsibility to put on a fireworks display by matching up three or more fireworks of the same colour (red, green or blue) and then detonating them before they disappear off screen. If you’re lucky, the detonations will set off other fireworks, resulting in massive chains that will let you rack up huge scores. As with most games of this type, there also bonuses to be earned- using special multicoloured fireworks you can link together advanced ‘daisy’ chains of fireworks of more than one colour, whilst doing particularly well will send you into a special StarMine mode- a sort of bonus round for massively inflating your score. Fail to capture and detonate too many fireworks, however, and your health bar will empty, resulting in game over.
All that being said, it is actually quite possible to play Fantavision for a while without really having a clue what you’re doing- button bashing and basic puzzle gaming instinct will get you quite far through the game. Once you get the hang of it, the game becomes even easier, and it is only then that you realise how little content Fantavision actually has to offer. For single players, there are nine consecutive levels to play at either easy or hard difficulty- not only is this quite a limited number of levels compared to the endlessness of most puzzle games, but the pattern of fireworks is always exactly the same each game, so once you’ve completed it once, there’s little incentive to go around again. A two player split-screen versus mode attempts to inject a little more longevity into the game but after the novelty of trying it out wears off, it seems unlikely that your friends will care much about being challenged to a great Fantavision showdown.
Visually, Fantavision is somewhat uninspiring- the fireworks look quite nice, but since they only come in three colours, the displays don’t have as much visual impact as you might hope. Similarly, whilst the city and spaceship exteriors used as settings in the game are worthy renderings for the early PS2 days, the number of locations on offer is extremely limited- a deficit made worse by the fact that the last few levels take place in featureless hyperspace. Background music consists of the kind of inoffensive electronic synth piece that are mildly catchy whilst playing, but easily forgotten afterwards. Should you so desire it, however, you can save replay data for a level and watch your fireworks display from different camera angles- in all honesty, however, you’d probably have a more exciting time looking up real fireworks displays on YouTube or generating them with an animation program (I’m hardly skilled at the latter, but I did manage to produce some fireworks in RPG Maker).
Fantavision is much like a firework itself- a quick burst of enjoyment and then it rapidly fades away. It’s the kind of thing you get out of the back of a cupboard for a laugh on a rainy day, but in the general run of things there are better puzzle games out there- many of which can be played for free online.