Big Bang Mini isn’t quite a shooter and isn’t a carbon copy of Fantavision. Arkedo’s Nintendo DS game doesn’t fit nicely into a genre or category. Maybe we should give it a custom genre like Namco Bandai did with Tales of Hearts — don’t call that an action RPG it’s a “Heart connecting RPG”. Let’s call Big Bang Mini is a “Stylus Scratching Shoot ‘Em Up” then.
In Big Bang Mini you pilot an orb by dragging it with the stylus. All of the “enemies” which include balloons and lions in the Hong Kong level and spectral cats in Kamakura are on the top screen. The goal of Big Bang Mini is to hit those targets with fireworks. To shoot you scratch the touch screen upwards, preferably not around your ship. You wouldn’t want to accidentally move your ship into a mess of bullets. If your fireworks hit a target it drops a star.
Catch enough falling stars to fill a meter and you clear the stage. Miss and your firework blast backfires by raining bullets you need to dodge. While you’re aiming and dodging a self created bullet hell enemies are firing shots too, icicles fall, and other times vines on the bottom screen box you in. All of those things don’t happen right away. Big Bang Mini has a gentle learning curve, but the game gets increasingly frantic. Since each level introduces new elements like homing missiles in the third world and a create your own mirror shield in Luxor Big Bang Mini’s nine level arcade mode shuffles the rules after each level.
You also get to “travel” the world in arcade mode. Big Bang Mini sets stages in the skylines of New York City which are infested with comic book villains and Rio de Janeiro while squeezing in a few cultural elements. Once you fill up the star gauge you can play a connect the dots mini-game. Drag the ship over the numbers in order to shoot off a special blast of fireworks that light up the sky with dragons and igloos.
Before jetting to a new location you have to face a boss. In Aurora, the second level, a punk walrus sitting on a flying carpet and sporting a multicolored Mohawk blocks your path. He starts by spitting spirals of snowball sized bullets to dodge. Then he shoots homing fish skeletons. Big Bang Mini has the vibe of wacky bosses from 1980s arcade games and that’s just cool. Similar to a standard shooter bosses are massive and riddle the screen with objects to dodge. All of this object dodging in Big Bang Mini has been great practice. Now I feel ready for Knights in the Nightmare.
Images courtesy of Southpeak.