Fireworks is the third of Vita's AR games, and the last for now. Cliff Diving and Table Football had their moments, but were really nothing special at all. For me, this latest offering constitutes more of an actual game than Sony's previous efforts. Let's take a look.
The primary mode of play is tabletop. Here, you place your choice of the cards numbered 1, 2 or 3. These correspond to an easy, medium or hard setting. Cleverly, each will produce a different house on your screen when the AR wizardry kicks in. 1 results in a shack, while 3 creates a penthouse. The firework display will be more ostentatious in the latter. After all, what's the use of being rich if you can't fill the whole neighbourhood with noxious smoke and melodramatic lightshows? If you don't make every pet in a five mile radius foul itself, you're a failure as a spoiled rich person.
From the yard of this tiny house of clearly loaded midgets, the fireworks will appear. You follow the ascent of each one, using the touchscreen to set it off. Higher scores and multipliers will be awarded depending on your timing. There's a very brief window where they will flash, a successful tap here will result in a 'perfect' message and a dose of smugness. It becomes quite hectic with many on the screen at once, and failing to detonate one before it lands again will cost one of your three lives.
Fireworks also features infinite and challenge modes. This is what sets it apart from Playstation Vita's other AR games, as these don't require the cards at all. Instead, your backdrop will be whatever the terrible quality rear camera is pointing at. Yes, you too can enjoy a blurry, almost unrecognisable real life background to your gaming. If augmented reality is the future, then, it's a horrific, dystopian one. Like in Terminator, where everyone's dead.
This third offering is surely the best of the bunch. The reasonable range of unlockables and non-obligatory Play Cards lend some substance to proceedings, making it less of a mere novelty. Plus, there's some limited value for score chasers. Even so, I'd say the tech demo for new owners and potential buyers niche is where these fit best. AR games continue to remind me of an attention seeking child. They're the console saying, "Look what I can do! See how clever I am? Pay attention to me!" That child's always an enormous pain in the ass. Even when it's your own.
All in all, Fireworks seems to represent a successful polishing of the augmented reality turd (what do you know? It can be done!) and nothing more.
Check out a comparison between the Vita and Nintendo's 3ds below: