Typically, I do not like those games referred to as 'bullet hell' games; you know the ones: your one-hit wonder of a ship versus a literal screen of bullets, and its your job to navigate your single-pixel hitbox through all of these bullets while relentlessly attacking the boss. I find them quite uninteresting, merely a chore as you fail time and time again, struggling to succeed despite the onrush of bullets.
With that said, I'm not sure how else to describe Big Bang Mini except as a bullet hell game. That said, the game is different, and I had a lot of fun with it. Initially, it felt like it was just going to be a dull shooter with some unique controllers, but as the levels progressed...well, things changed.
So, you're a little...thing that's shooting fireworks. It's not supposed to make sense. You stay at the bottom of the screen; movement is done by dragging your avatar across the bottom screen, trying to avoid the many, many obstacles that are fired down at you. To retaliate, you can fire back your fireworks by quickly sliding your stylus upwards. You need to be careful though: miss the enemies, and your firework will explode, showering the area - that means you - with projectiles that you must dodge. So if you shoot too many misses, you'll soon find yourself worrying more about your own bullets than the enemies'.
The controls of the game take some getting used to, and can be a source of frustration. Shooting by dragging your stylus is usually alright, but when accuracy is of the essence (in the later game, for example, you die if you shoot particular enemies), sometimes it just doesn't feel like the fireworks are going where they should. The way to move your avatar - dragging it around the screen - also can present problems, though I'm man enough to admit that those times when I tried to move around and missed with my stylus are more often my fault rather than the game's.
The meat of the game takes place in the Arcade mode, where you go through series of levels in a variety of worlds. And when I say a variety, I mean variety. Style is a heavy component of Big Bang Mini, in nearly every facet of its visual design. Each world lasts just long enough before you're taken to the next one, an explosion of color and peculiarities that you need to learn to master it. New York, for example, is stylized like a comic book, with BANGs and WHOOMPs racing down to destroy you while you try to tap on enemies to steal their powers. Luxor looks more like an old 8-bit game and sounds as such; you're also given the ability to draw a temporary horizontal shield to protect you from enemies.
Every level brings something new to the table (but only temporarily), but there are certain things that are common to them all: for starters, each level ends with the ability for you to win a bonus mode, where you have to link up a series of connect-the-dots for a picture. Sounds easy, but in every world, things get a little different in what you must do, and a little harder as well, giving you a little extra challenge in every level. You also get additional abilities as the game progresses such as the ability to fire weaker shots that home in on your enemies or powerful fireballs that bounce every which way but do devestating damage.
And even when you've finally finished the Arcade Mode, which takes a decent chunk of time, there're also two more modes to get through: the Challenge Mode, which is an onslaught of obstacles to gain a high score in, and Mission Mode, which gives you specific objectives to complete in levels from Arcade Mode, such as beating a level in a specific amount of time. There's a lot of gameplay packed in a small package here. There's even a multiplayer versus mode if you want to go head-to-head with a friend.
I really like the way the game presents itself. It knows what it is, and it knows that it doesn't have to take itself seriously. The instruction book is indicitive enough of this fact. The style, both audible and visual, is addictive as much as it is varied, and everything from the heavy beats of Rio de Janeiro to the creepy atmosphere of Kamakura make the game stand out as something beyond just a slew of bullets and obstacles flying at your one-hit wonder of a thing.
Big Bang Mini probably isn't for everyone, but more people are going to enjoy it than they might think. It's colorful, it's explosive, and it's fun, though it does have its share of frustration, especially near some of the later levels and their bosses. Regardless, there's simply not a game out there like Big Bang Mini, and if you want a bit of hectic shooting, dodging, and general mayhem, it may be worth a shot.