Brandon Boyer

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Previously mentioned as one of my most anticipated DS titles for the first half of 2009, Arkedo’s Big Bang Mini is not only shipping to retailers this week, but, publisher Southpeak has announced, has hit the Wii’s Nintendo Channel DS Download Service as well, so you can try an extensive demo of the game ahead of time.

If you do, what you’ll discover is that while it shares PS2 launch title puzzler Fantavision‘s vivid romanticization of fireworks against a jet black sky, that’s where the similarities end. What Big Bang Mini really is, at its fuse-lit core, is an introduction to the thrill of hardcore bullet-hell shooters wrapped in a more palatable and familiar metaphor.
Here’s the premise: your lower screen acts as both the area in which you can drag and move your base ‘ship,’ and your launchpad for flinging fireworks into the upper screen’s night-time sky, hoping to pop and destroy a variety of objects both neutral and aggressive that pass in and out of range.


But unlike the giant enemy approaches of the aforementioned shooters, in Big Bang Mini your greatest enemy is always your own overzealous attacks: miss an enemy and allow your lit core to hit the top of the screen and its sizzling fallout drops back down, at which point the game instantly switches to a defensive dodge in amongst the rainbow debris.

Combine that with the bullet bouquets of the game’s bosses and you find yourself part of a nerve-wracking ballet: sticking and moving through tiny crevices left in the wall of fire headed your way, and judging minute to minute whether to unreservedly sling your attacks up or hold off, not wanting to create even more havoc for yourself in the end.

It’s one of the most well balanced and confidently executed mechanics I’ve seen in some time, and, combined with its gorgeously lit cityscape panoramas and the bold neon CMYK abstractions of some of its levels, I’m more excited than ever to dig even deeper into the final version.

Big Bang Mini [Arkedo/Southpeak]

Nintendo's Wii/DS outlook: The Offworld view – Offworld

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