Launch games for new consoles are usually a mix of flashy new technology that shows players exactly why the new hardware is better than the old and cheap chash-ins that are rushed out in the knowledge that there will be gamers desperate enough to purchase anything playable for their new console. Quite where a firework themed puzzle game with pretty but unremarkable graphics fit into this pattern isn’t clear but that’s exactly what Fantavision is.
I’ve heard Fantavision described as a cross between Missile Command and Bust-A-Move and I have to say that’s pretty accurate. Fireworks are launched and you have to use your cursor to “capture” three or more like colored ones and detonate them before they fizzle. The longer you wait before detonation the more fireworks you can string together and the higher your combos will be, but at the same time you are increasing the risk of the fireworks fizzling and losing everything. There’s a bit more to it like special item flares and different detonation types, but the basic idea remains very simple, detonate as many fireworks as possible.
Fantavision features some very extensive tutorials to get you up and running, but the basic idea is so simple you should have no trouble just jumping in. Unfortunately this means things can be a bit too simple and this is one of the few puzzle games where you can actually get quite far by just button mashing. It’s also a very short game so once you get the hang of it you’ll breeze through it. There’s not much replay value either and the two-player mode feels a bit tacked on and doesn’t add much.
The game starts with a very weird retro advert style intro, but the in-game graphics are nothing special. The detonating fireworks obviously look very nice, but the game looks more like a visualizer than a cutting edge launch title. The backgrounds are pretty plain which is good as they don’t distract you from the gameplay, but on the other hand, they make the game look even more dated
The “Starmine” sections look pretty nice as you detonate loads of fireworks in quck succesion but overall Fantavision wasn’t the greatest looking game when it first came out and is really showing its age now. The dance music fits the game nicely, but isn’t very memorable, unlike the creepily polite announcer that will keep you informed about what’s going on at all times.
Since its launch the PS2 has built up quite a nice library of puzzle games, but there’s been nothing like Fantavison again. This alone might make it worth checking out if you can find it, but ultimately there are much better games in the genre.
*Review originally published 2003.