OverviewDeveloped by French indie developer Arkedo Studios, Big Bang Mini is a top-down shooter on the Nintendo DS that features only touch screen controls. There are no button presses involved; moving and shooting are all done with the stylus. The triangular ship's main ammunition comes in the form of fireworks, with the game taking place across several neon worlds -- some based on real life locations, such as Hong Kong, New York City, and Rio de Janeiro. Each world has its own unique enemies and music tailored to that location. For example, Hong Kong features lanterns, pandas, and plasma-firing Chinese dragons along with oriental-styled tunes.
The original soundtrack is free to download at the Big Bang Mini official website.
Big Bang Mini earned favorable reviews with a metascore of 78 on Metacritic.
GameplayBig Bang Mini utilizes both dual screen and touch screen technology. Enemies appear on the top screen, while the player's ship and HUD are on the bottom.
Moving the ship is done by dragging it with the stylus, while fireworks -- the ship's main weapon -- are fired by flicking the touch screen in the direction intended. However, these controls mean that the player can't move and shoot at the same time, meaning that the ship is particularly vulnerable when shooting. Fireworks that miss an enemy target explode into sparks that fall onto the bottom screen. These sparks are just as lethal as enemy fire, so rapid firing is discouraged.
Level progressionAround 90 different levels are represented across nine different worlds. The main objective of each level is to collect enough stars that drop from killed enemies. Stars fill up a meter on the left side of the touch screen, and only when a portion of the meter is filled up can the player move onto the next level. Each level contains different waves of enemies.
Ship upgradesVarious ship upgrades can be obtained throughout the course of the game. These use up battery power, and include:
- Fireball - Three fireballs will fly out from the ship. Their size depends on how long the stylus is held on the touch screen.
- Homing missile - Holding down one of the shoulder buttons and flicking upwards on the touch screen releases a weak homing missile that will direct itself towards the nearest enemy.
- Aurora - Any bullet that enters a spiral drawn with the stylus will be absorbed. This ability can only be used once before the battery needs to be charged again.
- Shield - Shields provide temporary shelter against bullets. These can be drawn with horizontal lines across the touch screen.
WorldsThere are nine worlds that feature in Big Bang Mini.
- Hong Kong - Enemies include Chinese dragons, pandas, pigs, lanterns, and monkeys, with a golden lion statue as the boss.
- Aurora - An icy and windy world set near the North Pole. The direction of fireworks can be affected by the wind. The boss is a walrus on a magic carpet.
- Kamakura - A world inspired by the Yagura tombs in Kamakura, Japan. Enemies include spirits and ghosts. A puppet master is Kamakura's boss.
- Luxor - Based on Egypt. Hieroglyphs, pyramids, and snakes populate this world. The boss is a large head of a pharaoh.
- Savannah - Based on Africa. Four tribal men make up the boss fights.
- New York - Enemies include superheroes, aliens, and sharks. A comic-styled supervillain is the world's boss.
- Rio de Janeiro - Enemies include lions and sombrero hats. The boss is a musician.
- Paris - The boss fight consists of defeating a number of pigeons.
- Abyss - An underwater world. The boss is a giant organism-shooting amoeba.
B.O.S.S.When the final boss is defeated, a new boss called "B.O.S.S." can be fought. This being has several forms, including an airplane, a fish, a tank, and the words " GAME OVER". Beating B.O.S.S. unlocks Mission Mode.
Retro ZoneWhen selecting a level, there is a small chance (said to be 1 in 250) that the player will be taken to the Retro Zone by the Great Randomizer. The Retro Zone is a bonus easter egg. The player is taken back to the selected level when their ship is destroyed, with a message stating, "We may never meet again".
Additional ModesNew modes can be unlocked by playing the game.
- Challenge - A never-ending mode where the player does their best to earn as many points as possible before losing.
- Versus - A two-player mode that requires two DS systems yet only one game cartridge. Both players hold their DSs vertically like a book. The game features three different VS stages. The aim is to destroy the other ship by using firing fireworks or using the one-off special attacks that can be used with the D-PAD such as shield or darkness. Players combat each other until a predetermined score.
- Relax - A no-fail game mode that lets the player watch their fireworks explode in the sky.
- Mission Mode - A collection of bite-sized missions for the player to complete. Challenges vary from completing a level within a set time limit or firing 25 shots at most to finishing without missing a shot or touching any clouds.
- Alarm Clock
ReceptionBig Bang Mini has received positive reviews from the majority of critics -- the most common praises reserved for its presentation, control scheme, and low price tag at $20. Major outlets GameSpot and IGN gave scores of 9.0 and 8.7 respectively. GameSpot called the game an "excellent shooter with an innovative control scheme", while IGN said it should be considered "if you're a fan of hyper shooters like Space Invaders Extreme".
On the other hand, there are some less than complimentary verdicts. Eurogamer only gave Big Bang Mini a rating of 5/10, saying that "completing levels is more down to luck than skill [...] we're talking the kind of patience and skill required to solve Rubik's cubes in the dark".