Boom, Crack, Sizzle, Pop! – Fireworks Review
This game was reviewed on PlayStation Vita
Augmented reality (or AR for the acronym enthusiasts) is something we’re starting to see in our video games, using cameras to capture our play space and placing the game world within it. The PlayStation Vita is one of the latest systems to jump on-board, using both its front and rear cameras to bring our living rooms, public transit interiors, or faces directly into the action. One such title is Fireworks, a free game available in the PlayStation store that has one goal: to bring all the excitement and splendor of your favorite pyrotechnic displays to the palms of your hands.
Fireworks’ general gameplay premise is simple: fireworks will shoot up into the air and will pop upon being tapped, with points being awarded for doing so. A circle will appear around the explosive in two disconnected parts, which slowly rotate towards each other. If the rocket is detonated at the exact moment the circle becomes whole, you’ll receive a score bonus. Chaining together multiple fireworks without missing any will yield a score multiplier, with six-times being the highest.
Should one go unexploded you’ll lose a life; lose three and it’s game over. To help avoid this, convenient arrows will point to any fireworks off screen. These prompts are very helpful since they can appear anywhere in a 360 degree radius, with players needing to physically move their Vita to bring the object into view. On the whole, survival is the goal, and gameplay is simple but entertaining which can keep players sucked in for hours on end.
There are three game modes for players to explode around: Tabletop, Infinite, and Challenges, each taking its own stance on the basic gameplay mechanics. Tabletop utilizes three of the six AR cards which come with your Vita system. These cards project a house on-screen, and these buildings shoot out fireworks (hopefully from the safety of their backyard or balcony!) at different speeds, dependant on which cards you chose to use, and the goal is to simply survive for as long as possible.
What makes Tabletop interesting is how variable it is. Your cards may be placed wherever you wish (as long as they’re within the optimal camera range) and can be mixed and matched for a custom difficulty (card one is easy, two is moderate, and three is hard). Players may even remove or add the cards while the round is still in play, allowing the complexity to be changed on the fly. Because of this flexibility, Tabletop will be a mode players will keep coming back to.
But what if you’ve lost your AR cards, are unable to use them (like on the bus, for example), or simply don’t want to? If that’s the case, then Infinite mode is the place to go. Here, fireworks come from off-screen below the field of view, instead of from a single fixed place. For the most part, gameplay is the same, except that the difficulty ramps up over time and challenges pop up between rounds. These task the player with completing an action, such as hitting faster rockets as quick as possible, or only popping a certain colour.
Two other features give this mode its own flair: chains and power-ups. Some fireworks may be connected by a line of arrows, and can only be popped by dragging your finger from one to another in the order dictated by the arrows. Doing so will give you a power-up which comes in one of five forms: bomb, slowdown, shield, extra life, and auto-pilot. Each has its own usage, and can be activated by tapping its icon on-screen. Infinity is an engaging mode that will test the player’s skill more and more as the game goes on.
If you’re looking for a quick, short game, then Challenge is the place to be. Here you’ll run through a series of the tasks that Infinity Mode presents to you, except without the in-between rounds. Initially, only one challenge is available, but once completed another unlocks, and so on until all have been completed. This is Fireworks’ equivalent of a story mode, and gives players something to work towards other than basic survival.
Visually, Fireworks is wonderful title to look at. Rockets explode in various colours, shapes, and patterns, creating an impressively diverse light show every time you play. Your background will even be affected on occasion, with objects’ outlines being painted a vibrant colour while the rest goes black. This creates a kind of embossed and inverted effect, giving your play space some extra personality.
However, the title’s soundtrack is a bit of a bore. Music consists of a minimalistic drum and bass style of techno, which adds in a new line or speeds up the beat every time you increase you multiplier. Since this ends at six-times, if you get on a roll you’ll be listening to the same looping phrase over and over again until you mess up. To make matters worse, it’s the only song. Gamers will quickly be turning off the sound, in favor of their own soundtracks.
When the grand finale explodes in a beautiful mix of colours, Fireworks is a very fun title that really shows us how entertaining augmented reality can be. With its impressive visuals and addictive gameplay, this is one game you should give thought to downloading… just load your favorite songs onto your Vita ahead of time! And the title is free after all; what do you have to lose?
Final Score: 4.75 / 5.0 and a cheering crowd of excited spectators.
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