Big Bang Mini for the Nintendo DS from SouthPeak Games is one of those rare little gems that flits in now and again, and then holds your attention for quite a while. While I can say “it’s sheer fun in the purest sense”, it’s not going to do any good until you actually experience this game. But I’ll do my best to justify what I’ve just said.
Big Bang Mini is all about fireworks, and thankfully not in the same sense that “Fantavision” was, but more along the lines of “fireworks as weapons of destruction”. You control a…ship-thing seems the best word for it, because the shape of it changes with every world. The ship-thing’s purpose is to collect stars that fall from the top screen, and each star you collect fills a meter on the side of the lower screen. Top the meter up, and the level is complete. To obtain stars (why, to quote Yahtzee, is it always stars??), you use the stylus in a flickety-uppy motion to shoot fireworks from the bottom screen towards various enemy targets that float around the top screen. Scoring hits removes the enemies, and nets you stars, which you then manipluate the thing to catch (stylus again, so you can’t fire and move at the same time).
It’s not just that simple, however. Aim, as difficult as it is, is important. Any fireworks of yours that don’t hit an enemy will explode, ensuring that you one-hit-wonder of a thing—yes, faithful to the olde school of gaming theory, you only have one measly little stingy hit-point—will take what’s generally termed “collateral damage from friendly fire”. And that fire is usually about 70% your own and 30% from the enemy.
Completing each level spits up a bonus level where you need to drag your ship-thing over a constellation in numerical order, but once again, from the second world onward, it’s not as simple as you were fooled into thinking from the first world. Things get in the way of the stars and you need to clear them before you can drag the ship-thing over the stars. Completing the bonus round for each level isn’t necessary to finish the level, but if you want to access additional modes other than “arcade”, be prepared to replay levels over and over again just to retry the bonus stage.
What I liked about BBM is that each level isn’t overwhelmingly long. You can play through most stages in under five minutes, and that’s good in a DS game. It means that I don’t have to quit an agonizing level half way through if something important comes up (I’m looking at you, Prince of Persia DS!), and then have to end up doing the entire soggy mess from the start again. The other thing I loved and found a welcome relief is that there is no stupid “that’s a bloody stretch and a half” back story trying to justify a game mechanic that has absolutely nothing to do with the story. And really, Big Bang Mini doesn’t need one. It’s not pretending to be anything other than fun, and I applaud the developers for that choice.
In all, BBM is great fun, a welcome distraction from the shovelware out there, and something that I recommend you try. It has a lot of longevity to it, and I guarantee that the next time you’re at a fireworks show, you’ll actually be disappointed that there aren’t any enemies flying overhead, ripe for destruction.
[Link: Big Bang Mini main site]