Transitions: The Launch Games/End Games Blog

Posted on Jul 4th 2013 at 11:40:22 AM by (dsheinem)
Posted under launch game

Happy 4th of July, long-suffering readers of the Transitions Blog! Today we will be exploring a PS2 launch game that is apropos for the American Day of Independence: FantaVision. Let's dig in...


Aside from being an especially interesting launch day choice for Sony, FantaVision is an unusual game in its own right. The basic premise of the game is to catch fireworks flares as they ascend, match them in groupings based on color, and detonate them to create a fireworks display that chains into other flares.  In each level, you must do this well enough so that time doesn't expire. Racking up points and chains will carry you on to the next level.  It is unquestionably a unique puzzle game, one that would still standout against the deluge of puzzle games released in the age of smartphone gaming. In my experience, it is also quite challenging. But why was this a launch game?

FantaVision showcased the PS2's graphics capabilities.  FantaVision started life as a tech demo rather than a full-fledged game, and so from the outset It was meant to emphasize some of the PlayStation 2's new capabilities. The game's lighting effects, the detail in the cityscapes, the smoothness of the camera - these may all seem very basic today, and even rudimentary by the standards set in games that would appear shortly thereafter in the PlayStation 2's lifespan - but the ability of the game to "pop" (pun intended) was likely the main reason that it was included in the launch library.


It was the only puzzle game available at launch. The PS2 saw plenty of action, sports, and fighting games when it hit US shores in October of 2000, but FantaVision was the only game to offer the kind of intensity that only the puzzle genre can deliver. Pure speculation: Sony may have been testing the waters for interest in puzzle games on the PS2, as the amount of puzzle games released for the PS1 had fallen off sharply in the years before the PS2s launch and, it would turn out, the PS2 had a relatively small amount of games in the genre even by the end of its run.

In contrast to the Japanese original, the US version of the game featured a two player mode.

FantaVision is an early example of Sony promoting an "indie" game.Over the past 5-6 years, Sony has developed a strong reputation for fostering in-house "independent" game development and promoting unique, innovative, projects that come from small teams.  Many people cite PS2 games like those from Team Ico or from someone like Suda 51, but FantaVision has that similar kind of "homemade feel" that comes across in everything from the wacky FMV intro screens to the tutorials to the credits. It is early evidence of a long-term push towards more niche titles from Sony, even if it is really the only game from the PS2 launch lineup to illustrate this. Also of note is that it is the only U.S. launch title actually published by SCEE.

The game has very unique FMV videos interspersed throughout.

It was doomed by poor reviews. If reviews are to be believed, FantaVision was a game no one was looking for/asking for in late 2000. IGN.com, for example, started their review with this:

Quote
In the hustle and bustle of the massive PS2 launch, with its high power sports, action, and fighting games, Sony's little fireworks puzzler FantaVision is sure to get swept under the rug real quick. Not because it's a bad game, and not because it's a puzzle title, although that doesn't help, but for two other major reasons. First, it's an unknown quantity (What the hell is FantaVision, anyway?) that can't be easily identified when glancing at the box; and second, it uses so little of the PS2's polygon pushing power that it doesn't really usher in the next generation of games with a whole lot of gusto.

GameSpot, meanwhile, was only a bit more encouraging at the end of its review:
Quote

Fantavision neither revolutionizes nor damages the genre, it simply comes out somewhere in between. The advantage of being the first puzzle title on the PS2, combined with the game's eye candy and two-player mode, definitely works in the game's favor. In the end, Fantavision is little more than a pleasantly entertaining puzzle game.

Famitsu only gave the game a 31/40, and it was largely seen as a launch day mistake by Sony. 


An interesting side note: Despite low interest in the USA, FantaVision saw a sequel of sorts in Japan (it was largely just an inclusion of the NTSC-U two player mode), but never saw any further success in the USA. While it may not have been the belle of the launch ball in 2000, I think most gamers would feel it is well worth checking out in 2013, especially on Independence Day! It is a fascinating launch title that has aged very well.




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Comments
 
Actually I remember when there use to be a gamestore by my house when the PS2 launched and in there display unit you had this game to play.  I don't think it was the full game it might of been included in a demo or something but I remember at the time it was pretty interesting.  I am bumbed out I do not think I own it,  I might have to look into ordering it.
 
I've seen this a few times at the thrifts in the past, but I've always hesitated to buy it for some reason. Just might grab it the next time it comes 'round...

BTW there's another fireworks-themed game for all you DS enthusiasts out there called Big Bang Mini.

http://www.rfgeneration.com/cgi-bin/getinfo.pl?ID=U-087-S-08631-A
 
Haha I actually looked into my collection and I do own this.  It is sad when you have to many games to keep track of all of the mentally
 
I remember picking up my PS2 on launch day and trying to decide what game to grab. Fantavision just seemed like an odd title, and I ended up with Tekken Tag Tournament. Later on I grabbed a sealed copy for $2, and it still sits that way.
 
Haha now you r just gonna have to buy another copy to try it out.
 
Aesthetically, FantaVision:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7InsAVfUYTg

reminds me a lot of the xbox rhythm game, Boom Boom Rocket:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rzp_9vp5uNo



Good blog.

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