As the first review of the New Year, it's fitting that this game is about fireworks. Certain games have fond memories attached yet upon revisiting them; sometimes you have to wonder why. In the end, is Fantavision worthy of a current gen port?
For those who didn't have a PlayStation 2 back in the day, Fantavision is an interactive fireworks game. You control a cursor to link similarly coloured fireworks then detonate them. To do this, you rotate the analog stick which sends a line off from your cursor to scan the screen. One button makes your cursor jump between fireworks and another button detonates them once you have at least three linked. It's incredibly easy to pick up and play even without any instructions. Some complexities come in the form of multi-coloured fireworks that you can use to "daisy chain" different colours together. For example, if you link three blue then you can link a multi-coloured one along with three red and detonate them all together. If you miss your chance to detonate a firework, your health meter decreases and it's game over once it's completely depleted. If this happens, you have to begin the entire eight stage campaign again from the beginning so good thing it only lasts about an hour. To help prevent failure, a few power-ups are provided as well as a bonus round whenever you collect all the letters to spell out "Starmine".
It's definitely fun to watch the fireworks go off as they can be rather nice to look at when a lot detonate at once. Complete with the relaxing soundtrack, it truly is an enjoyable game to experience. The 1950s-style live action cutscenes are very strange yet undeniably cute. Once you boot it up, you're treated to a video of an adorable little girl waiting for a package. After the delivery, she plays Fantavision with her brother as her parents watch. I didn't know they had PlayStation 2s back then. Anyway, the scenes that are shown throughout the campaign are odd to say the least. You'll witness Earth kids talking to space kids as you wonder just what the heck is going on. Overall, it's undoubtedly a weird little game yet its unique qualities make it one to remember.
Some included extras help to extend the lifespan of Fantavision. For starters, you can compete against a pal in a versus mode but it loses its appeal after trying it out a couple of times. The single player campaign can be tackled in either a normal or hard difficulty setting. Upon completing it, you unlock a corresponding extras menu where you can play a new "Chain Attack" mode and tinker with a few additional options. It's really nothing that impressive but it acts as a decent incentive to at least complete the single player mode.
The biggest obstacle to overcome while playing Fantavision is its simplistic gameplay. After playing for a short while, you'll likely start to become bored of just spinning the analog stick and alternately tapping two buttons. There really isn't all that much strategy or skill needed. As long as you keep an eye on upcoming fireworks, you'll be fine. Considering the campaign can be completed in about an hour and there's not really much to do afterwards, I can imagine that most gamers will only experience about two hours worth of gameplay here. Sure, it can be argued that it's an arcade-style game but with so many better games out there (especially in the age of awesome indie games), why would anyone bother with this unless they're already an existing fan? Besides, it's not even emulated that well on PlayStation 4. Almost every stage stuttered at least once. It was never game-breaking but to see a PlayStation 2 game struggle like this on a modern console is concerning. It's similar to a CD skipping in that you can still enjoy it but it's slightly annoying.
Fantavision is a memorable little PlayStation 2 launch title yet it doesn't quite hold up after over 15 years. Fans will appreciate the ability to enjoy it yet again although newcomers may wonder why it was even ported in the first place.
- + Easy to pick up and play
- + Fireworks can be quite pretty and cutscenes are cute and endearingly weird
- + You can compete against a friend
- - Gameplay is too simple and mindless
- - The amount of content likely won't last longer than a couple of hours
- - It stutters on the PlayStation 4