has been a part of man’s soul for as long as he has existed. Painting,
sculpting, chiseling, building, composing, writing… any medium
available, any canvas available has been utilized for the sake of art.
For ages, mankind could only paint the sky in their imagination,
forming constellations in the stars. It wasn’t until the 12th century
that the Chinese found a way to use the sky as a canvas by using
fireworks as a medium.
Big Bang Mini is a unique new shmup for
the Nintendo DS where fireworks become weapons against an onslaught of
many bizarre enemies. The game is split up into several dream-like
areas inspired by various locations around the world. Each area has
it’s own look, sound, enemies, attacks and rules. For example, one of
my favorites, so far, is a Japanese gothic-style area ridden with
spooks of all kinds. It’s clear this game was inspired by the games of Tetsuya
Mizuguchi (creator of Rez, Lumines, Meteos, etc.) as the game places a
lot of emphasis on different graphics and sound sets, unique to each
area. While the game doesn’t seem to match sound effects exactly to the
music’s rhythm, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Mizuguchi bought the
rights to this game and made it so. (After all, he did that with Every Extend!) The graphics are beautiful and quite varied, using both 2D and
3D graphics. The sound effects are varied and nice on the ears, but the
music got a bit repetitive when having to spend a lot of time in one
wasn’t sure how I felt about Big Bang Mini, at first, but it grew on
me. It’s a good, unique game with just a few odd traits or poor design
choices. The core gameplay works well and is fun. Swiping the stylus at
various locations and angles on the screen launches fireworks at
enemies above. Meanwhile, you must protect a small object on the touch
screen, which is essentially yourself, by dragging it to safety
whenever attacks come near. One interesting way that Big Bang Mini
differs from most shmups is a sort of punishment for shooting too
much. Any shots you fire that miss enemies or obstacles will detonate
like fireworks, showering out bullet-like embers that can kill you.
Each area of the game has 10 levels including a boss stage. Each area
of the game has unique traits and give you different abilities. One
snowy area adds strong wind that changes direction and affects the
movement of your shots, while you also gain the ability to draw a windy
swirl on the screen that temporarily absorbs projectiles. Changing
features, like this, help keep the game fresh and it was a great design
Being that you must also use the stylus to shoot, it’s
easy to think they should have allowed the player to use the d-pad
rather than dragging to move. This would have probably made the game
significantly easier. While it can be frustrating, the required
multitasking is a nice challenge. Perhaps an “easy” mode with d-pad
controls would have been helpful for younger or more casual players. At
first I was worried the game was too easy. It wasn’t long before the
game difficulty increased a good amount. This got me enjoying the game
much more but be aware that younger gamers may get frustrated.
previously stated, the game has a few problems. Each area of the game
gives you some choice in what order you play the levels but you must
beat every level in an area to move on to the next. I felt the game
would have felt a little less repetitive if you were given the option
to switch between areas after beating the majority of an area’s levels.
That said, this is only more of a problem during the earlier, easier
stages. Once the difficulty ramps up, the game feels less repetitive
since the game does a good job of throwing different challenges at you.
Another small problem is slightly finicky stylus control. Sometimes I
had to try a few times to activate an ability via a certain stylus
motion and other times I activated it on accident. It didn’t become a
big problem but it happened enough to get me killed a few times.
also a good amount of game to be had with plenty of levels and several
unlockable modes including “Challenge Mode” which turns the game into a
more traditional shmup with online leaderboards via Wi-Fi. Single-cart
versus play is also available but unfortunately I haven’t gotten a
chance to try it yet. I would definitely recommend this game to anyone
looking for a good shmup or unique action game on the DS. Players
ranging from hardcore shmup fans, like myself, to casual gamers should
be able to find some significant fun to be had with Big Bang Mini.