Everybody loves fireworks, and we’re pretty sure that every DS owner will love this pyrotech-tastic shoot-’em-up. It’s as visually arresting as it is infectious, original and quirky, and we can’t recommend it highly enough, especially given its budget price. Describing the game makes it sound a little convoluted, but please bear with us. So, the main mode, Arcade, features nine differently themed levels with 10 stages to complete in each. In addition, each stage has a simple bonus stage.
You control a small shape (its appearance varies from level to level) on the bottom screen, moving it around by touching it with the stylus and sliding it. Put the stylus anywhere else on the bottom screen and flick it upwards and you’ll shoot fireworks into the top screen, where enemies dart back and forth. Destroy an enemy and they’ll drop a star. Collect the star as it falls by moving your shape over it and you’ll start to fill a meter. Fill the meter, complete the stage. Simple enough stuff, right?
Well, it may sound simple but there are complications. The enemies fire projectiles at you too, which you must avoid or you’ll suffer a stage restart. In addition to this, if your firework fails to find a target it will explode anyway and shower debris onto the touch screen, which you have to avoid. And while the game starts out as a relatively easy challenge, it soon becomes a frantic affair of constant dodging, and firing when you get the chance. There are additional woes in later levels, such as walls that close in on you until you’ve purged the top screen of enemies, and tricky sods that hide behind cover and can only be destroyed with carefully aimed homing fireworks.
This is a game that has it nailed in nearly all departments. There are no quibbles with the presentation; the difficulty curve and balance are both spot on, the use of the stylus is great and well-executed, and it has that elusive, intangible ‘just one more go’ quality without punishing you too hard for dying. The two-player Versus mode is the most disappointing aspect as it’s a complete lightweight next to the solo game, but at least it’s single-cart play. A minor quibble.
Jan 20, 2009