Fireworks is an augmented reality (AR) game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. Fireworks is the Vita’s augmented reality equivalent of the PS2’s Fantavision.
The game provides you with three game modes including: tabletop, infinite and challenges. The tabletop mode is a fireworks display that takes place in anywhere from one to three gardens outside their houses depending upon the number of AR cards being used simultaneously as you can increase the difficulty by placing an additional two AR cards for an increased challenge and bigger scores. The infinite mode does away with the requirement of AR cards along with the houses and gardens to provide a game mode that includes additional rules in which you will receive warnings not to detonate a particular colour of firework and the appearances of bonus rockets which are provided for a continually exceptional performance, which in turn provides you with an opportunity to significantly enhance your score. The challenges mode is the second mode to do away with the requirement of AR cards and provides three sets of challenges including: starburst, nebula and asterism. There are a total of ten challenges within each of the three sets amounting to an impressive thirty challenges overall. The premise of each of the challenge stages is to achieve a bronze, silver or gold star that will unlock the next challenge. The game can be paused at anytime and with a single tap of the eye icon on the bottom right of the pause menu, you can enter spectator mode.
Spectator mode is available in all three game modes, but it achieves its full potential in the tabletop mode as the AR cards allow you to pan the camera around the fireworks display from any angle. There is a tutorial available from the options menu that covers such important topics in regards to you understanding how to play the game including: fireworks, chains, power-ups, bonus rockets, tabletop, medals and challenges. You start each of the three game modes with three lives, but if you are too late with your tapping of the touch screen reticules, then you will lose one of your lives until you have no lives left, resulting in the end of the game. There are five power-ups available including: bomb, slowdown, shield, extra life and auto pilot. There are a total of 152 unlockable fireworks to view, which you can select from the main menu by tapping the padlock icon on the touch screen, which informs you of the various tasks attached to them that are required to be completed in order to unlock that particular firework. When you have selected a particular unlocked firework; that firework will be displayed in the background during the menus as a demonstration.
The controls are simplistic and are focused around the touch screen with a simple tap of the touch screen required within a circular reticule whenever the fireworks reach their peak in order to detonate them to produce the best fireworks display with the brightest and loudest explosions. The Vita’s motion sensor functionality is used to move the positioning of the camera angle, so you can view the fireworks display from any angle and as close or as far away as you wish to do so in the tabletop mode.
Fireworks requires only one AR card to be positioned directly underneath the Vita, although two additional AR cards can be simultaneously positioned underneath the Vita to control the fireworks display from three houses, rather than one. The AR cards can be located anywhere you want them to be enabling you to position the location of the fireworks display outside in your front garden or in your living room with the only restrictions being that the AR cards have to be placed on a flat surface and they have to be used in a well lit environment. I found the syncing process of the AR cards to be on par with my experience of Table Ice Hockey as the AR cards synced rather quickly and created the objects they were meant to and I did not find the light to be as much of a factor as some of the other AR games. Cards 1, 2 and 3 are used to create individual houses that in turn each have their own fireworks display.
The graphics are bright and colourful and beautifully represent exactly what you would anticipate from a fireworks display. The brightness and colours of the fireworks are greatly varied from pretty much every colour of the rainbow and it makes for a great spectacle. The audio consists of exactly what you would expect to hear from a fireworks display with lots of great sound effects as the fireworks are set off and lots of loud explosions when they reach their peak and detonate. The music is centred in the dance genre in regards to the beat with a retro gaming vibe to the melody. I found that it is best to play the game with the music muted, so you can really hear the full range of sound effects from the fireworks during gameplay.
As is the case with all of the free downloadable AR games there is no trophy list, which removes some of the additional replayability value of Fireworks in comparison to the range of AR games that cost £1.59 each, such as PulzAR, Table Ice Hockey, Table Mini Golf and Table Top Tanks.
The online leaderboards are very competitive as I earned a score of 5,848,800 points in tabletop mode and although it was good enough to be first on the local leaderboard; it only managed to get me 4,108th position in the worldwide rankings. The exclusion of ad-hoc only multiplayer is not something that I would consider as a loss to the game at all as it is rare to even get into a game unless you own two PlayStation Vita consoles or know someone that lives nearby that owns a Vita and the game, so it would have been unlikely that anyone would have actually experienced that entire section of the game anyway.
The replayability of Fireworks is focused on attempting to create the best fireworks displays and achieving the highest scores to submit to the online leaderboards for each of the three game modes. The replayability of Fireworks is approached from two completely separate angles with the tabletop and infinite modes both providing a potential significant playing time, while the challenges mode presents the pick up and play feeling with challenges lasting mostly less than a minute. This provides good reason to revisit Fireworks on a regular basis whether you are looking to fill five minutes, an hour or significantly of your time.
Overall, Fireworks is a fun, addictive game that puts an AR spin on a game that harks back to the era of the PS2 with Fantavision. Fireworks delivers such an amazing amount of single player content that it certainly has enough for it to easily be a £1.59 AR game and yet it is free. Three game modes, online leaderboards, a spectator mode and 152 unlockable fireworks will keep you revisiting the game no matter if you need to fill five minutes, an hour or more of your time. I cannot recommend this game enough, as it is certainly one of the best AR games yet and is available as a free download from the PlayStation Store!
At A Glance
- Title: Fireworks
- Publisher: Exient (XDev Studio Europe)
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: Online Leaderboards
- Memory Card Space Needed: 315Mb