Republished on Sunday, 6th November 2016: We're bringing this article back from the archives to celebrate Bonfire weekend. The original text follows.
Originally published on Wednesday, 5th November 2014: It's currently Bonfire Night here in the UK, a bizarre annual event in which wooden figures are burnt at the stake in order acknowledge the capture of Guy Fawkes, a British radical who plotted to dethrone King James I by destroying parliament with dozens of barrels of stashed gunpowder. His plan was eventually exposed after a tip-off to the authorities, and the activist and his accomplices went on to be executed all the way back in 1606.
Today, the anarchist's image is used as a symbol for rebellion, most notably in the comic book series V for Vendetta, where the protagonist wears a mask styled after the revolutionary. However, with the passing of time, the figure has also become a subject of strange celebration, with 5th November – the date immediately following his capture – prompting annual get-togethers involving fair rides, candy floss, and, of course, fireworks displays.
I've always been a fan of fireworks in games; whether it's the twilight illuminations in the MotorStorm series or the Venetian festival in Assassin's Creed II, these late night light shows tend to give developers the opportunity to flex both their artistic and technological muscle, and almost always prompt ecstatic cries from onlookers passing by – much like the real thing. However, while there are more titles featuring fireworks than I care to count, FantaVision is hard to beat.
Originally created as a tech demo for the fledgling PlayStation 2, this turn of the century puzzle title based its entire gameplay hook around the flash and fizzle of a modern fireworks display. Set against the backdrop of four different scenic arenas, the gameplay revolved around you 'capturing' flares of the same colour in order to ignite them. You could daisy chain different hues in order to multiply your score, resulting in more pronounced on-screen effects – and a higher spot on the scoreboard.
Collecting stars in addition to the sky bound sparkles enabled you to unlock a bonus Starmine mini-game, which upped the number of objects in the play area, and allowed you to party like it was very much still 1999. As evidence of Sony's vaunted Emotion Engine's power, it was pretty much unparalleled, running at a steady chop, and filling your television screen with flashy animations with every single point scored. However, it was also an entertaining little game.
With just eight stages, it's hard to imagine this being a retail release in today's bloated market, but the many variations of Tetris, Bust-a-Move, and Columns have always been popular choices in my household. There's something accessible about a good puzzle game that allows the whole family to get involved, whether it's co-operatively encouraging your partner to drop a block in a particular place, or competitively battling over a local leaderboard spot.
While the original Japanese version of FantaVision actually lacked multiplayer, it was eventually added in the Western release, alongside power-ups which allowed you to play with your partner's play space in order to enhance your score. The game may fail to pass today's value standards – where most boxed titles tend to demand at least three separate single player, competitive, and co-operative campaigns to succeed – but it was more entertaining than most modern titles by far.
And it was also a perfect symbol of the time: high off the post-millennium hopefulness, the game possessed an optimistic outlook on the world unblemished by global recessions, Ebola, and impending terrorist attacks. Indeed, this title is well worth digging out if you don't fancy braving the arctic weather at your local social club tonight. Now, if only we could convince Sony to put some kind of high-definition remaster on the PlayStation Store...
Did you pick up FantaVision alongside your brand new PS2 almost 15 years ago, or is this one fireworks display that you're yet to witness first hand? Fly like a rocket into the comments section below.
Would you buy a FantaVision remaster? (46 votes)
Yes, I love the flash of a good fireworks display
Hmm, I’m not sure
No, I’d much rather have some fresh ideas
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