Big Bang Mini Review «

Big Bang Mini sure is weird. From the lenticular box art, you might guess that it’s a game involving fireworks somehow — perhaps like the under-appreciated PS2 puzzler Fantavision? No, not quite. It’s actually positioned as a good old-fashioned shoot-em-up, where you use the stylus to fling fireworks to blow up enemies and control your “ship,” which is really just a floating, soulless icon. And rather than fight a boss at the end of every stage, you collect star icons dropped by enemies in order to fill up a meter on the side of the screen — fill it all the way and you can move on. It’s more straightforward than it sounds, really.
I certainly can’t fault Big Bang for trying to freshen up the genre, which it basically does. It’s a shooter where your bullets are both beneficial and detrimental to your success: The flares you shoot become exploding fireworks if they reach the edge of the screen without hitting a target, and then you have to dodge the sparks that come flying back towards you. Not to mention that each world looks completely different than the last, from the backgrounds and enemies down to your icon and the “bonus zone” text, each taking on the theme of the city/region they’re based in (Hong Kong is a flashy city at night; New York has a rough comic-book style). It’s an achievement in art rarely seen on the DS.

Click the image above to check out all Big Bang Mini screens.
But it’s not all sparkly. The touch screen is a nice way to launch your fireworks (just flick upwards in any direction), but you can’t use the D-pad or any other buttons to move your icon, which is an outright shame. Most people can use a Wii Remote with a Nunchuk, after all, and that’s not too different from the D-pad and stylus combo on the DS. Having to use one input for moving and firing can be a hassle, especially in the mid-to-late levels of Big Bang Mini. You might need to escape a particularly tight spot, but when you rush to tap the icon, the stylus is just far away enough that it doesn’t connect. So, your icon doesn’t move, and you lose.

And I mean really lose. You only have one try on each stage, so if you get hit by a stray spark, for example, you’re instantly gone and will have to start over. On average, the stages aren’t more than two minutes long, but that stretches to infinity when you’re pissed off at a stupid death — you shouldn’t be forced to “one-credit” the thing (i.e., beat it in one go) if you don’t want to. Imagine how bad this gets when you fill up the star meter and have basically completed the stage. So you take a breather, only to watch helplessly as you’re unable to dart away from a spark in time. It’s more infuriating than it needs to be, especially when you’re only halfway done with the 10 stages in the nine areas.

The frustration isn’t too big a deal if you’re a hardcore player used to the sort of conditions a shoot-em-up demands. But the bigger problem is that a game like Big Bang, with its bright colors, simple controls and budget price ($19.99), practically demands attention from the casual market. And yet it’s that simple control that also makes it harder to play, which is then compounded by the do-or-die nature. Like so many games that try to straddle a balance between mass market and fervent gaming enthusiasts, what Big Bang does well and what it does bad are both incredibly noticeable. Yet, on the whole, it’s worth a try. Weird.


looking for something?