IGN Review of Big Bang Mini
The first great (2D) DS shooter of the year is here. Like last year's excellent Space Invaders Extreme, Big Bang Mini is another psychedelic shooter with fantastic visuals and simple, solid gameplay. It comes by way of French developer Arkedo Studio, maker of 2007's Nervous Brickdown. Arkedo has crafted a unique and challenging shooter that is entirely touch based. Each of the nine worlds has its own neon art design, culminating in a package that comes close to sensory overload. It's a great ride, though, and shooter fans won't want to miss it.
You'll have to be quick with your stylus because not only is it your weapon, it's also your means of transportation. The playing field sprawls over both screens of the DS with you on the bottom and enemies on top. By placing the stylus on your ship (which changes form in every level) you can move it around the touch screen to dodge enemy bullets. But in order to fire you have to let go of your ship, leaving you vulnerable, and flick the touch screen in the direction of the competition. It may sound a little awkward, but it actually feels good and makes for an interesting challenge. Shooting and dodging, that's the name of the game. Compounding things is the fact that, when you miss, your bullets explode and send shrapnel back at you. The fallout looks like a fireworks display, an attractive side effect of the basic shooting mechanics.
Each level requires a different skill set, as new enemies are always being introduced and players have a distinct special ability in every zone. These abilities are activated with strokes of the touch screen -- a short horizontal line might create a temporary wall that will block bullets, or a vertical line might stop time briefly. There is also a collection aspect to the gameplay, as defeated foes will drop stars. Once you've met your star quota you can proceed to the next area. The short levels can be completed in two to three minutes each. That and the constantly changing rules keep Big Bang Mini feeling fresh throughout its 90 levels.
Accenting the flashy visuals are some spunky tunes that vary greatly from level to level. Each area is set in real world locations (although highly stylized) like New York City or Rio de Janeiro, and the music is generally tailored for each spot. The audio was created by Yubaba, Smith, & Fortune, the team behind the tunes in Nervous Brickdown, and they do good work. They also have a good sense of humor: the game includes an alarm clock that will play any song from its soundtrack, with the idea that if you don't care for the music you'll want to wake up and turn it off right away.
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