Big Bang Mini (DS)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Monday, February 9, 2009

Graphics: 8.00
Sound: 8.50
Gameplay: 8.50
Replays: 8.00
Gamelength: 8.00

Arkedo Studio’s “Big Bang Mini” is an unexpected hit and I, for one am extremely impressed.

Shoot ’em ups are a dime a dozen these days, but of those dozens, not very many stand out. Last year’s “Geometry Wars 2” wins my shoot ’em up of the year vote, but what about this year? With the inevitable release of plenty more on the way, which ones will stand out in the crazy overcrowded market? I can’t predict the future, but so far, this game has a definite fighting chance to come out on top. This is a simple, yet oddly addictive game that’s sure to lure just about anyone in for many, many hours to come. Grab your stylus and get ready to create some ridiculous fireworks in “Big Bang Mini” for the Nintendo DS.

The craziest part about this little gem is the art design. This game is flawed from a technical standpoint, but the art design is so terrific and quirky that it’s hard to fall in love ten times over again each and every time you pick the game up. Most of the designs are simple shapes set over a neat little backdrop, but it’s shiny in a “Geometry Wars” kinda’ way, only a lot weirder and more varied. At the end of the day, I guess it’s just another 2D shooter in the graphics department, but those with a good sense of style will appreciate the artistic design.

Sound effects are pretty cool here, although a little on the generic side, but the music is fresh in that it’s different from most other shoot ’em ups. It’s still electronic, but it’s just a bit more varied. The style switches up a bit more and overall, while it’s definitely no “Geometry Wars” caliber soundtrack, it definitely stands out. Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot to be said for the sound quality here.

This game is very, very basic and while it’s such a simple concept, it’s easily the most addictive game of 2009 thus far. The controls are as follows: To move, you essentially drag and drop yourself around the stage. To shoot, you have to let go of your ship, stop moving and pick your targets carefully. The control scheme is very, very easy to get used to and it’s all done with the stylus. You do this for about 90 levels, hoping you survive at every stop. At the end of every level, you’re tasked with creating a finale of sorts, which is a pretty neat concept, although it’s not all that innovative in practice because you’re still essentially doing the same thing. Also, be careful where you shoot; your bullets explode much like a grenade would in real-life and can easily backfire on you. Remnants of your shots fly back at you every single time. It’s ridiculous and isn’t the best design choice, but it does make the game a bit more challenging in a somewhat necessary way. Otherwise, the game might be a bit too easy in some spots. There’s basically no story and there aren’t many other game mechanics, so that’s about it. This is one of the shortest reviews I’ve written for a long time, but there just isn’t much to talk about. Still, this game is badass and you should probably buy it, especially given how good of a deal the package is. This game is $20 and will probably give you more fun and enjoyment than any $60 game on the market right now.

Overall, Arkedo Studio did a fantastic job with “Big Bang Mini” and I hope to see more games like it in the future.

Pros:
-Crazy, but very artistic visuals.
-Very unique, varied and catchy soundtrack.
-Extremely user-friendly and simple controls.
-Lengthy; about 90 full levels to plow through.
-Great bang for the buck.

Cons:
-Some of the mechanics, like the exploding bullets are a bit stupid.

Bottom Line:
If you’re into shoot ’em ups, this is a great buy. Even if you’re not into shoot ’em ups, this is definitely worth checking out. If you can, rent or try it first as usual if you’re unsure, but at $20, this game is hard to hate.

Overall Rating: 8.50

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