We’d be idiots if we didn’t include Fantavision in this list. Fantavision was probably the first game that popped into most of your heads the moment you read the headline. It’s synonymous with fireworks in games, because it’s one of the only games specifically about fireworks.
Above: PREFERABLY IN OUTER SPACE
Aside from being packed to the gills with colorful explosions, Fantavision is deceptively simple, and considering it’s a PS2 launch game, it still holds up beautifully. The object is to use a sticky onscreen cursor to link together as many unexploded skyrockets as possible, and then – once you’ve got a good chain going – make them all go boom in unison.
It’s relentlessly pretty and surprisingly fun. For a puzzle game about making colored dots explode above city skylines, though, Fantavision sure has a weird intro movie. It starts with this adorable moppet sitting on a box:
Above: Actual screen from intro video
And eventually cuts to her entire family, who look like they stepped out of a Sears catalog circa 1981:
Above: Even-more-actual screen from intro video
… only with more modern controllers:
Above: Holy shit, you can’t handle how actual this screen is
We’ll chalk it up to Sony’s PS2-launch weirdness and a possible desire to link Fantavision with the inventive, mostly nonviolent spirit of the Atari 2600. And also to the difficulty of making a coherent intro for a game that looks like this:
But yeah. Fireworks.
Above: WOOO, FIREWORKS
3. Final Fantasy VII
Arguably the single most sentimentalized game of all time, Final Fantasy VII has one scene that’s more of a fan favorite than any other: the one where Cloud, unable to sleep at the ridiculously elaborate Golden Saucer amusement park, goes on a date with Aerith (or Tifa, or Barret, or Yuffie, depending on how you’ve made him behave up to that point).
Above: Not on a date with Aerith
The scene’s climax comes when the two would-be lovers buy a ride on a cable car. Its track runs high around the outside of Golden Saucer, giving the two a bird’s-eye view of the place and taking them smack through the middle of what was, at that time, probably the most spectacular display of aerial pyrotechnics ever rendered on a console.
Above: If you look closely, you can see the gondola amid all the color
The rockets weren’t just bursting over their heads, either – the cable car ran high enough that fireworks were exploding underneath it, opening up the kinds of liability questions that are immediately ignored because it’s a fantasy game and everyone has swords instead of lawyers.
Underlining the display is an awfully pretty piece of music, as well as some disappointingly awkward “romantic” dialogue (or just awkward dialogue, if it’s Cloud and Barret). It all wraps up with a full-frame view of the Saucer, as the fireworks continue to burst in the sky around it.
Above: Ooh, pretty
Like a few of the other entries on this list, it’s difficult to fully appreciate the spectacle of the scene without seeing it in motion, so be sure to check out the video below if your sappy memories aren’t enough to sustain you: