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- Fantavision

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Number Of Players: 1
Release Date: Available Now

Fantavision is amazingly fun, especially when you realize it's just a glorified particle demo. But what a glorification!

Fantavision's premise is simple: colored firework balls (the things fireworks start out as before they explode into the nifty little lightshows we've all come to love) travel from one area of the screen to another (i.e. rising from bottom to top or right to left) and it's your job to connect them by moving from same-colored ball to ball via your analog stick. You simply point the stick in the direction of the ball and hit X. Then point to the next one, and hit X. It's simple, and in the heat of playing,can look a lot like simple button mashing, but it's not.

There are special balls that pulse with two different colors (like, say, blue and green) that allow those colored balls to link together to create larger chains. Once you've reached your desired chain, hit circle to detonate them, creating massive plumes of light that can look like the fireworks we've all know to some that just wouldn't be possible (swirling masses or entire puffs of light that circle each other). The catch is, the longer you wait for the chain to build, the less time you have to detonate the whole thing, because the first group of linked balls fade fast, so you're constantly balancing your chains and time limits. It's at once simple and complex, and like all great puzzlers it insanely addictive.

As far as we can tell, Fantavision is the first game on the PS2 to use anti-aliasing (so it's no big surprise that that game was made by Sony), and it works great. Nothing on screen suffers from the annoying jaggies that have plagued so many Some Sony designer must have been vacationing in Seattle on the 4th of July or New Year's (which, by the way, boast the best fireworks shows on the planet) because the cityscapes that you start out in for the first couple of levels are EXACTLY like Seattle, and even include look-alikes for the Space Needle, the Kingdome, and the Spirit of Puget Sound cruise ship.

The music is definitely interesting, but it's not going to win any awards. Best described as pepped-up elevator music, Fantavision's melodies aren't amazing, but the set the mood for a puzzler perfectly. Likewise, the explosions for the fireworks range from simple pops and bangs to thunderous booms, and everywhere in between.

Fantavision has the luxury of being the only non-Mahjong puzzler on the PlayStation2, and that's a very good thing for us. I can't really think of anyone besides the Japanese, whether they're Aussies, Brits, or Yanks that are dying to get their hands on Street Mahjong. If you've got a little extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, head down to your local import store and snag a copy of Fantavision. No, you can't play it with friends (unless you just trade off the controller), but it's still a blast and offers some amazing light shows.

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