Review by Ceewiz

"A beautiful game that's easy to play, hard to beat"

Introduction: Fantavision, one of the first titles to be released for the Playstation 2, is basically a puzzle game where you try your best to detonate fireworks (or flares) over a landscape without missing too many.

Controls: While one of the most important aspects in a game, this time it needs little review. The controls for detonating, releasing, and capturing flares are simple enough and are not hard to use. Players use the left analog stick to aim (not move) the circle that lets you capture the flares. You aim at the direction the flare is at and then literally shoot the circle at it.

Gameplay: As the introduction says, you quickly try to set off sets of 3 or more flares launched from the ground. If a flare stays on-screen for too long, it will disappear, counting as a miss and you will lose some energy off your bar. Miss too many; and game over.

There are several different colors and several different types of explosions. If an explosion touches another flare of the same color, it will explode as well. This is only the beginning, as there are numerous strategies and powerups to set the flares off, as well as get your combo chain into the hundreds. When you first play, it will be most likely be hard for you to complete even the first level, which is why I said it's hard to beat but easy to play. There are tutorials that show you how to play as well as advanced combo techniques; but there is no real way to get better if you don't keep practicing and playing.

There is also a two-player mode and a replay mode as well. Two-player mode is basically a starmine, which in single player is a bonus round activated by collecting eight Star Items, where you compete with a friend to detonate a variable number of flares first. Two-player mode's flares, I felt, disappeared even faster than in single player, making it an even faster-paced game than single.

Replay mode is a selection of two premade and ten of your own gameplay videos of what you did (you can chose after you complete a stage whether or not you want to save it). What is really unique about this mode is that it's made just for sitting back and watching the show (so to speak :) ). I really like this mode because after a hard time of completing a level (even if you don't go all the way to the end and lose later), you still have the satisfaction of watching your efforts over a pristine city.

Graphics: This game was not only made to test your reaction speed and puzzle skills, but your PS2 itself as well. The graphics of the explosions are well done and look realistic, though slightly 2-D. The cities look superb (namely when in replay mode), with the building and streetlights dimming and relighting, as if almost wanting to be a part of the whole show. The optional rain and snow effects in replay mode (as well as the amount – up to x4) look very nice with the explosions. There are also other options you can select in this mode, such as automatic camera cycling, blurred objects, and other visual effects.

Sound and Music: The sounds are what you might expect in a puzzle game involving fireworks, mostly explosion sounds. They sound realistic enough, though a bit “soft”. The other sounds in this game are good and fit as well. Not much to really say – they do the job, simply put.

As I've noticed, there is only one music track during play. While this sounds like a bad thing, the gameplay in this game is nonstop enough to where you hardly pay attention to the music, plus the music is good enough to last you a while. The main menu has its own single music track as well. It fits nicely and is exciting when you first load up the game, making you feel eager to start the game to see what awaits you. Finally, the replay mode's music is the best of all in this game. It fits the atmosphere and purpose in this mode perfectly.

The game music abruptly stops when you lose, as your circle slows to a halt and disappears. You see the non-missed and now white flares slowly descend back to Earth as you get a vocal thank you, the highscores fade in over the background, and the game over music starts playing (not just a little jingle). I feel that this, as a whole, is a very nice touch.

Replayability: There are only 8 different stages/levels in this game, which are about 5 to 10 minutes long each. The time to beat the game is greatly increased by the fact that beginners to the game, even those who are good at some puzzle games, will probably lose to the very first level even on normal difficulty (there is no easy mode). Just the difficulty of this game will keep you coming back to see if you can finally beat the game. There is no option to save your game, so don't let the screen which lets you save your replay fool you. Since you cannot save, this increases replayability but can also discourage newcomers from playing.

After you finally master the game, you'll keep coming back for more, be it watching the now fantastic replays you have saved, beating your own highscores, or perfecting a technique. You also unlock entertaining extras as you beat each difficulty, accessed via extra menus, that I will not spoil here.

The Verdict:

Controls: Gets the job done without any clunkiness – 10/10
Gameplay: Fun but hard. Maybe could have done with a mode or two more though – 7/10
Graphics: Beautiful; simply put – 8/10
Audio: Sounds are nothing special but do the job. The music is few but good, namely replay – 3\5, 4\5 | 7/10
Replayability: Enough to keep you coming back. The no saving is ok at times, other times not – 7/10

Overall: You can find this game for around 5 to 10 bucks new nowadays. If you like puzzle games, good atmosphere, or a little of both, this game will keep you entertained for a while.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/21/05

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