Bonfire Special: FantaVision

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Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and no plot summary.
We see no reason
Why this firework game
Should ever be forgot!

Happy Bonfire Night, so let’s burn a scarecrow version of the people we despise. But in all seriousness, the animals aren’t going to have a great time. Anyway, like home console Christmas games, we barely see any firework games, where using fireworks is the aim of the game, though they could be used as mini-games for a much bigger game. But there is one that uses fireworks as the main game and it’s a PS2 launch title…albeit a game that wasn’t supposed to be a launch title. Fantavision (ファンタビジョン), developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and published by Sony Computer Entertainment and was released in 2000, the same year the PS2 console was released.

So how did this game come into fruition? Well it actually started out as a tech demo, but people were impressed with it, thinking it could stand up on its own as a full game; and so Sony did. Whilst the Japanese release only had the single player release, the US and European releases which were launch titles, had an extra mode in the form of multiplayer and one other change that I’ll explain later.

So you start the game with a 50’s style household where the seemingly happy family play the amazing game known as FantaVision…it’s weird.

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So the aim of the game is to control a cursor, use to move a line at incoming fireworks and detonate the fireworks or flares. You must string together three or more of the same colour to detonate, though there are exceptions. You can string a multi-coloured flare if you stringed certain coloured fireworks and catch different coloured fireworks. The more fireworks you string together called a daisy chain and detonate, the more points you accumulate. However, if you miss fireworks, the play meter decreases and when it’s empty, the game is over.

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You can also collect bonus items floating about and one important one is a star, every time you collect one it spells a letter, collecting more stars will form the world Starmine and you’ll be sent to the bonus stage called the Starmine Mode, where tons of fireworks and flares are sent out in a more rapid speed, this is your chance to get more points, however missing them will decrease time, after the time reaches zero, the mode ends and you’ll go back to the main level.

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The game is quite fun but first time playing it, it was quite hard. Here’s two ways of playing this game. You can strategize and try to play it perfectly, accumulating points in your own way, though it’s much difficult to do this…or you can do what I did and flail the line around until I got enough fireworks to detonate. It’s one of those games where you can play it your way.

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The music…well remember when I said there was one difference in each port…well that’s where the music comes in. The Japanese soundtrack had electronic music, the American release had a mixture of electronic and new age music and Europe (where I’m from) had dance music, mostly music you heard in the nightclubs in the 90’s, I quite like the dance music but nothing I would completely enjoy. But the saddest part of this is if you enjoyed the music from America and Europe, there’s no soundtrack for you to listen to…unless you were Japanese since their soundtrack was released in Japan.

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Did you know? In 2002, Futarino Fantavision (ふたりのファンタビジョン) was released exclusively in Japan, where it included the two-player mode and a new remixed soundtrack.

Overall, FantaVision is a…pretty good game, not as fantastic game but for a launch title, I can see the lasting appeal of this game as it’s quite fun and the multiplayer. And despite not being the best game of all time, I wouldn’t mind a re-release for new audiences; it’s a shame that this remains a footnote in the list of PS2 launch titles. I recommend this game and you can get it for next to nothing; I got mine for 50p so it won’t affect your wallet.

You can get it for the PlayStation 2.

Rating: 4/5

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