Name: Big Bang Mini
Platform: Nintendo DS
What child doesn’t look up at the majesty of fireworks with wonder? The orchestrated, colorful explosions are something out of dreams, and evoke curiosity in children and celebration in adults. From the nightly shows in Disney World to the CGI footprints of the Beijing Olympics, fireworks are used worldwide to show happiness and merriment. Attempting to remind gamers of those feelings is Arkedo’s Big Bang Mini, a fireworks-inspired shooter for the Nintendo DS. Sporting colorful visuals and catchy music, the budget title manages to break away from the follies of most games with small price tags and deliver a large amount of content and gameplay that needs to be experienced. The artistic style is wonderful, and the game fits perfectly on the handheld, with stellar use of the system’s unique capabilities. It’s hard to find a proper genre for Big Bang Mini. Using the bottom screen, a match-striking movement launches fireworks upward, colliding with floating objects to drop stars. Missed shots, however, explode with blinding colors, raining debris down. The goal is to maneuver a ship, located on the bottom screen, so that it collects the stars and avoids the debris – a task easier said than done. It uses only touch screen controls, so trying to dodge wreckage while shooting is impossible, creating two distinct gameplay modes: shooting, which requires precise aim, and dodging, which requires precise movements. Other factors are occasionally added into the mix, such as shields that protect the ship and clouds that protect the objects, but most of the game revolves around this simple principle.
It’s incredibly fun, and the rhythmic actions of firing up a dozen shots and attempting to dodge the debris is hectic and captivating. While simple in concept, it’s a mechanic that’s difficult to perfect, and requires the coordination of a classic shoot-em-up and mastery of the touch screen. Being able to move around using the D-Pad might have made things a bit easier, but it’s a conscious choice on the part of the developers, and one that definitely adds additional difficulty to the gameplay. Boss battles help spice up the mix a bit, but don’t depart too far from the formula, helping to create a fluid experience.
Big Bang Mini is a tremendous success. It isn’t an incredibly deep game, but the mechanics work on a number of levels, and set a bar for what gamers should grow to expect from budget titles. With ninety levels, single-cart multiplayer, limitless replayability, interesting unlockables, and a convincing price point of $19.99, you’d be hard pressed to find more bang for your buck a better value than Big Bang Mini.