The small team at Arkedo Studio has already lit up the gaming world with its highly addictive DS title 'Nervous Brickdown' and now it is back ready to rock the dual-screen system once more with its take on the shooter genre with 'Big Bang Mini'. But with Shin'en Multimedia already taking the DS shmup crown not only by default, but by delivering one of the best space shooters of all-time, can the French team out-do its German counterparts with its innovative take on the theme?
The general theme of any shooter is predominantly 'fire as many bullets as you can whilst dodging hordes of enemies'. You only have to look at some of the recent greats on the DS, such as Ketsui, Bangai-o and Nanostray 2 to see that the more manic proceedings are, generally the more fun the game ends up being thanks to the adrenaline rush players get. For Big Bang Mini, though, French outfit Arkedo Studio has decided to mix things up slightly, choosing to force gamers into bringing a modicum of thought to the table. How has it achieved such a feat, though? Well, with a simple flick of the stylus on the touch-screen your tiny space-craft shoots out a firework that flies into the air and explodes. Should it strike an enemy then great, you will have moved one step closer to despatching the threat. However, should the firework miss completely, it will merely blow-up, shooting a gorgeous array of colours around the screen, yet also breaking into deadly, flaming pieces that start to rapidly fall back in a downwards motion...right towards you!
Therefore, in many cases, not only are players desperately moving their craft around the touch-screen, using complete stylus control, they are additionally having to keep a close check of exactly what the outfall is from their mistimed attacks. Of course, it must also be remembered that any time the stylus is being used to fire off shots it means that your ship is momentarily left stationary and defenceless...
Thankfully Arkedo is not entirely evil and throws the player the odd bone from time-to-time in the form of ship upgrades, some of which are simply temporary, others permanent. For instance, quite early on players will be granted the everlasting use of homing missiles (which, whilst seemingly very useful, actually impact less than normal shots) and other certain stages there are one-time deals, such as a swirling vortex that can be administered by moving the stylus round and round on the touch-screen quickly, resulting in all enemy fire being sucked away into the ether. These all prove to be vital additions to your arsenal when attempting to collect the necessary amount of stars dropped by the plethora of unusual enemies found across each stage.
With nine gorgeous, highly stylised worlds, each of which containing ten levels, numerous multiplayer and miscellaneous options on offer, as well as an enthralling online mode that will keep gamers constantly battling for the highest scores worldwide, Big Bang Mini would have been a superb addition to anyone's collection at full price, but the fact that it can be snapped up for £19.99 or less makes it an essential purchase for high-action shmup fans everywhere. Arkedo had a smash hit with Nervous Brickdown, lent a helping hand to Mekensleep for its Soul Bubbles project and has now delivered its best effort yet in Big Bang Mini. It may not quite squeeze out Nanostray 2 as the best shooter on DS so far, but it comes a very close second.
Having to switch between controlling your space craft and shooting may seem awkward at first, but the gameplay balance is simply wonderful, making this particular shmup far more tactics-based than many other 'fire aimlessly' games in the genre.
Full of stunning colour, flashy backgrounds and stacks of action, BBM certainly pushes the DS hardware.
The tunes are perfectly suited to the different locations your little space craft visits and the soundtrack is, on the whole, definitely of the highest standards.
With so much on offer for lone gamers, plus fun for friends, Big Bang Mini offers far more than you would imagine for a budget-priced title.
Arkedo may only be a small studio, but it is clearly packed with some of the best talent in the Industry, showing that Nervous Brickdown certainly was not a fluke. Big Bang Mini takes the shooter formula, shakes it around and serves up a definitely triple-A piece of gaming goodness that will test gamers to the maximum.
I really liked the Demo that was on the Nintendo channel, and the review makes it quite tempting to buy. There are so many games I want this year, I just wish I had a proper paying job, and enough time to play the games.
Anyway, Nice Review Adam, keep up the good work.
Taa muchly - Broken Sword next...You should be able to pick up BBM, Bangaio Spirits and Nanostray 2 for pretty cheap prices now. If only someone would bring Ketsui Death Label over as well. That game is INSANE
I hope Big Bang Mini does as well for Arkedo as Nervous Brickdown did (i.e. more than 100,000 units worldwide). I believe it may be getting a Japanese release from a good publisher...but nothing's set in stone (that I know of).
Good luck to Arkedo - I really hope there's an opportunity to do a Wii version of BBM, even if it's just a WiiWare release
Looks like an insane little game. There are tons of DS games I really need to play now, I've abandoned the little fellow for far too long.
played the demo, wich was really IMO, looks fun, but i dont have the money or time for it.
Well, the good news is that according to Arkedo, sales in the US are actually rising...so hopes are high that Big Bang Mini will end up topping Nervous Brickdown's worldwide total of 100,000 units. Then perhaps the team will get the chance to expand on the formula for Wii or WiiWare!