Tag Archives: Exclusive

Fantavision

A PS2 techdemo turned into a game

It’s a simple game where you set off fireworks by combining various flares of the same colour together to set off a chain. You are limited to chaining flairs of the same colour together, but you can use the rainbow-colored flairs to combine flairs of a different colour. Bonus can also be combined to increase your score, and some will help spell out the word Starmine, which is used to enable a special mode to increase your score.
If you fail to set off a flare, you will lose a certain amount of life, which the game ends when this has been depleted, You can lose life even by chaining a few flares and have them go out since flares will last on screen for around 10 seconds. This does give a risk element when combining flares of multiple colours and means you will have to gamble between setting off your flares or waiting to see if you can increase your chain combo.

There is also a two-player mode which is similar to the single-player mode, but players have the ability to swap the screen with a unique powerup.

Red/Green/Blue: Common flair colours
Wild flare: this will be white and is one of the flairs that allows you to combine flares of different colors
Star item: Adds a letter to the Starmine meter below, appears as a star
Energy item: Replenishes your life meter, appears as the letter E
Bonus point: Multiplies your bonus score, appears as a letter B

After you complete a level, the game will automatically save a replay to your memory card which you can replay later, and can apply different effects and change the angle and the weather whilst you watch the fireworks.

When you complete all eight levels, the extra section is unlocked.

Music and Region differences

Each region has its own unique soundtrack which was meant to reflect the popular genre of the time. Europe as dance/trance-like music whilst the US has NewWave/Pop music. These also carry over into the cutscenes of the game.

On the topic of sound, this is one of the games that does not output audio over the PS2 Optical audio connection (sometimes known as S/PDIF) and you have to revert to the AV Multi out audio, I’m not sure why this is, or if the game is outputting audio my AV Receiver (Yamaha RX-V481D) does not understand.

Cutscenes

I’m not sure what relevance these have to the game, they seem to appear after every few levels showing a sub-urban family playing and talking with one another, set in a 1950s period,, yet you can see them playing with PS2 controllers. Since the later levels feature you being in space, maybe it’s a reference to the 1950s space race.

I’m more confused why the main menu has phonetic pronunciations of the above text?

A PS2 classic

Sony later re-released this game onto the PS4 as part of the PS2 classics, which is a collection of PS2 games running in an emulator. Here the game benefits from improved graphics as the emulator runs in a higher resolution and trophies.

Depending on your PSN Store region, you will get either the EU/ US or Japan version of the game with its own soundtrack. This can also mean if you’re in Europe, you’re still getting the PAL version of the game, complete with its 50Hz goodness, although it’s very hard to notice on the emulator (The PS4 will output 60Hz regardless of when the game is running)

Conclusion

Considering this was originally conceived as a tech demo, it’s a good title if you disregard the wacky cutscenes, and its music makes it compelling to play. Fantavision would be the only game of its type to be released on Sony, no sequels or ports to other systems were developed, shame since it would be ideal on the PSP or as a PSN exclusive title, a simple puzzle game that’s easy to get into.

X-Squad

One of the PS2 launch titles, try doing this on a Dreamcast

A third person sort of FPS where you shoot stuff. The main plot of the game is set in the year 2037, terrorists have taken over a military base and it’s up to the X-Squad to restore it, following the failure of the previous W-Squad mentioned in the game.

The game is similar in concept to SOCOM and Ghost Recon where you can issue squad commands to your teammates, typically 3 members. These are fairly basic as you can only command them to be oppressive or stealth/defensive.

The game UI, screams early 2000 era design and is where you can manage your inventory. At the end of each level you will earn points depending on the difficulty the level was completed at. You can use these to purchase new weapons, ammunition, shields and gadgets to help complete the next level. You can also find pickups, like leftover ammunition when you kill an enemy to keep your character going.

You can also manage your teammates inventories, and can juggle weapons, health kits between them.

The Squad

John Ash Connors: The main character and the only character you can control. Only 26 years old and has grey/silver hair.

Maya Esteves: One of your teammates who is with you the most, has a tendency to get shot and run out of health, which requires you to constantly transfer health packs to keep her in the game

Judd: A large son of a bitch, standing 6ft 8 and weighing 250 pounds. For his height he appears out of scale since compared to his squad mates, appearing only slightly taller.

Melinda Swanson: Not one for conversation from going by the cutscenes, both her and Judd will occasionally go and do their own thing mid-mission, leaving you stuck with Maya

Colonel Clifford: You encounter this geezer midway through level 4 and he becomes a teammate for the rest of levels 4 and 5. Although his health indicator is set on yellow, he cannot die thankfully, but he ain’t a good shooter.

Dr. Biana: Not a direct squadmate but you encounter her often. Walks around with a briefcase and talks about some Medusa project

As mentioned, Your squadmates can be ordered around to some extent, by giving them commands. You can choose for them to be offensive where they will attack when they come into contact with enemies, or defence/stealth where they will only shoot when attacked.
Each member has a limited amount of weight they can handle, which affects the number of weapons they can carry, with Judd being able to carry the most. It’s best to leave the heavy weapons with him.

The game gives off a very Unreal Tournament / Perfect Dark-like vibe when you look at the level design and the electronic/techno-inspired background music. The main characters also look like UT player models. Considering UT came out one year before this game did (1999), you can see they were influenced by it.

Levels

There are 9 levels in total

Most levels consist of you going from one area to another, in order to get to the end. Many have areas blocked off and require you to find a switch in order to unlock the door/lasers in order to progress through, some of which are located on the exact opposite of the level.

A Switch, you will encounter this often


The design of the levels isn’t very diverse, with you running around an underground tunnel/area. There seem to be no areas set outside

  • Level 1: Set in a waste disposal facility, a pleasant start to the game and an introduction to the game mechanics.
  • Level 2: Has nice chilled music to listen to as you explore the level which is nice since it starts off in a sewer and ends in a waste disposal unit.
  • Level 3: This one gets frustrating, since you are stuck in an ugly maze-like environment, it’s easy to get confused due to how similar the corridors look, with the only major difference being the floor colour. It took me half an hour to find all the switches needed to progress. There’s no end boss but you do have to free the prisoners at the end.
  • Level 4: Set in an abandoned tramway, here you meet the cornel and his side chick for the first time. The objective here is to escort the two of them to the lab using the tram tunnels. The end boss of this level is a horde of guards, so make sure you have plenty of ammo and health kits.
  • Level 5: We battle our way in a laboratory, this time we are missing Judd, who has been replaced with Clifford
  • Level 6: More of the same, it’s set in some sort of a recreation area, although it looks just the same as the other areas. Boss level is set again a large tank, of which your teammates will be incapacitated almost immediately.
  • Level 7: There are a few areas where you will be ambushed and will have enemies firing from all sides, thankfully there are spaces where you can take cover, although try telling your AI teammates that.
  • Level 8: This one was a bit awkward as some corridors are a bit tight, and some are set near ledges where you can fall to your death. You simply walk around the map flipping switches until you unlock the least door. There is one switch that is placed in an awkward spot, where your character can easily fall through and die. There’s no jump button so you have to run over the gap and hope for the best. The end boss is brutal, you get ambushed by four enemies that will continuously respawn even if you kill them, and Simpson who is equipped with an overpowered weapon.
  • Level 9: This is where the game shits itself. At the start, you have to contend with enemies that are triple shields, and a good amount of ammo is wasted just having to deal with these. Then you have a boss battle with a large chopper, which will fire heat-seeking missiles repeatedly. At this point the game becomes a glitch fest, in one instance I got landed with a Game Over screen even though my character was still moving and my health bar still have some life it in, Other times my character was alive but the camera had glitched out to an overhead view and was unable to shoot.

I’d say the game was rushed towards the later levels since there are quite a few glitches. Even in the ending cutscene on Youtube they had issues animating the mouth of the characters

Misc Notes

The game only supports 4:3 output, no widescreen here.

From browsing the games disc, Internally the game seems to compress most files into multiple BZP archives, this includes the levels and the opening movies themselves. I have not found a way to decompress these files, and its likely an internal format that EA/Square use.

Links

EA X-Squad Homepage

R.I.P