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Posted by MachoFantastico

FIREWORKS HAVE NEVER BEEN SO MUCH FUN, NOR SO DESTRUCTIVE!

We all like a good firework display from time to time, from the noise and speed of the rocket. To the eventual explosion of colour and sound, there hard not to like. So when I heard that there was a Nintendo DS game that allow me to live my dreams of being the rocketman myself, I jumped at the chance and picked up a copy of my very own. Big Bang Mini is the latest DS creation from developers Arkedo Studio, now that might be a name less familar with my fellow gaming folk. But some of you will have experienced Nervous Brickdown, another Arkedo Studio game which was also released for Nintendo's portable system back in 2007. Big Bang Mini is a rather intriguing game, and one that reminded me constantly of Bizarre Creations Geometry Wars. This is especially true for the first stage of the game, which is very familiar in style to the popular Xbox Live Arcade game. But this inspiration is to be found throughout Big Bang Mini.

Big Bang Mini is the perfect example of a portable game done right, while it eventually suffers from degrees of repetition despite the change of artistic styles from stage to stage. It is basically the same form of gameplay throughout, but thankfully it's a form of gameplay that is both fun and refreshing on the Nintendo DS system. Using both screen to full effect, the game requires you to survive as a simple little ball dodging and weaving away from falling debris. This debris is also generated by both enemies on the top screen, and your very own actions. For you to must go on the attack and use a flick-like motion to fire of rockets at specific targets depending on the stage. If enough rockets hit home and destroy the enemy, a delightful star will fall and it's up to the player to obtain as many of these as possible. Once you obtain a star, a guage on the left hand side of the bottom screen will fill up. Filling this guage to full capacity will complete that level. While it's a rather simple process, it is surprisingly addictive if a little rough on the hands after a good time spent playing. 

Each and every stage as a unique and colourful artistic style.
Each stage consists of nine inner levels, which must be completed for access to the boss level for that stage. The boss levels are great fun and as varied as the rest of the game. It's definatly one of the most colourful and stylish games on the Nintendo DS to date. The arcade mode's nine stages are based around locations from New York city to the Aurora, these effect the visual style to each stage and can also affect the way the game is played. For example, in the Aurora stage the player must handle the ever changing winds which can affect both aim and movement of debris. At the end of each level, the player is offered a special bonus zone which usually means connecting the dots to create a image relating to the overal setting of the stage. This can become a rather dull extra activity as you get deeper into the arcade mode, even though there are slight variations of these bonus zones from stage to stage.

Big Bang Mini isn't just about the arcade mode, infact it's full of interesting modes to bite your teeth into. You have the commonly seen versus mode which allows player vs player battles, the challenge mode unlocked if your able to beat the boss of the Luxor stage, relax mode which offers you the chance to play through the bonus zones again and finally the mission mode. There are one or two extra little secrets to be found within these modes, but I don't wish to spoil the fun for those looking to pick up a copy. Overall it's a fine DS package and as I said, it's the perfect example of a well thought out and developed Nintendo DS game. The presentation as a whole is top notch and some of the best I've seen or played on the system. This also counts for sound, Big Bang Mini features an entirely original soundtrack that is a great listen. Just be prepared for one or two of the songs to grind on your nerves as the game gets harder. The extra modes are welcomed though, going out of their way to offer more variation to the player. 

Like all good Nintendo DS games, Big Bang Mini is easy to pick up and play. There are some issues to be had with actual gameplay, but some of these are partly due to the system and touch screen technology as a whole. Precision is key and on occasion the DS can get a little sloppy when targeting the stylus at the right areas. This could depend on your own Nintendo DS system, but I tested the game on both my two DS Lite's and I ran into some problems getting the game to reconise the precise selecting of the small little ball of survival. You'll also run into some frustrating touch screen moments when firing off your fireworks, as you flick in the direction you wish them to travel. You'll sometimes find yourself accidentally flicking the survival ball instead. One other issue came with the simple form of sight, the fact that Big Bang Mini requires you to keep an eye on the debris falling from the top screen isn't helped when your moving your survival ball around and your hand gets in the way of sight, this problem often saw me ending in death. In the large sight of things though, these are somewhat small issues that can't always be directed towards the game itself, for the simple fact is that I've ran into these problems with other DS games. So despite this, it's a surprisingly fun little puzzle/shooter that will keep most gamers entertained for sometime. It's good value for money and might be one of the less commonly known hits for the system. 

Geometry Wars inspires key features of Big Bang Mini.
While Big Bang Mini won't last as long as your average Final Fantasy DS game, it will make the perfect 'on the road' traveling game to company your Nintendo DS system. Afterall a portable system must have good portable games and Big Bang Mini is exactly that. There are some issues for sure, but none so big that they even come anywhere near to affecting the overall enjoyment found within Arkedo Studio's latest gem. It may or may not blow you away, a lot of it depends on taste. But most will appreciate the overall package as a portable Nintendo DS game. If you've grown to dislike games such as Geometry Wars, then you might be best to give this a rental if possible. Afterall, the gameplay doesn't make any great leaps from stage to stage and it can suffer from spells of repetition from time to time. The bonus zones are a nice touch if a little on the dull side, though some do require the use of your ever important brain cells. 

Big Bang Mini is one of those games that had travelled under the videogame radar for me, I'd never even heard of it until recently thanks to a friends recommendation. But it's a recommendation I'm glad I received, for Big Bang Mini is one of the better games I've played on the Nintendo DS. It's really what I want from a portable game, short but also thrillingly sweet. Graphically it's a great looking game for the DS and one that stands out from the crowd, the same can be said for the audio work. Which contains some memorable little tunes which will eventually get stuck in your head. It's inperfect controlwise, though that is partly due to the Nintendo DS itself rather then the game and it would have been nice to see some variation in the overall gameplay. But for a rather cheaply available Nintendo DS game, I honestly can't see anyone going wrong with adding this to their videogame collection. Quite liking fireworks would only make things better.

SCORE: 4 OUT OF 5.


Thanks for Reading!
Reviewed by Joseph Bayliss (TrueEnglishGent).