Even though there are plenty of puzzle games on the market today, few have enjoyed the success that Lumines has. The hallowed franchise is part of the Playstation Vita launch line-up, just like it was on the original PSP line-up almost seven years ago. This time, Lumines is given a full high-definition upgrade, new songs that are sure to make you want to move, and, as always, addicting gameplay. Combine that with some new tweaks to the original Lumines formula, and you have yourself a game that you aren’t going to want to miss as part of your Playstation Vita library.
Lumines is a Tetris-esque puzzle game, where players control falling squares that contain four smaller squares. The smaller squares are comprised of a combination of two different colors. The object of the game is to make a two-by-two square of the same color. If the player is able to create a square that is larger than the minimum two by two square, more bonus points are awarded. The big blocks you control can be separated by placing them on a ledge. Eventually, gravity will take over and cut the square in half. This is where Lumines really sets itself apart from other puzzle games on the market.
The game controls are simple and easy to use. You can use the traditional D-pad, with one of the face buttons rotating your square, or you can choose to use the touch controls. Simply swipe left or right to move the pieces side to side and tap the screen to rotate. Though the button controls are more precise, the touch option is there for those daring enough to try it. There are two different power-ups found while playing the game, and triggering them is very easy. One power-up is a chain block, and it will eliminate all the blocks of the same color that are touching. If you have a long chain of blocks, this power-up will take care of those, giving you a huge advantage, assuming you set them up correctly. The other power-up is the randomizer block. This will randomize all the blocks in the pile you place it on. Sometimes, this function will clear large spaces for you, but other times this block could do nothing at all. In addition to the power-ups, there is a special ability function tied to your avatar. Avatars can be unlocked by leveling up or by using the “Near” function built into the Playstation Vita suite of software. Special abilities range from more power-ups showing up to slower block speed, and the game encourages you to play often and share your achievements. This special ability system is a new addition to the series, and it makes Lumines more interactive than it ever was before.
The main mode in Lumines: Electronic Symphony is called Voyage. This is where you will spend most of your time playing this game. Skins are introduced in this level, and they control how the game looks and sounds. As you progress, these skins change, giving you a completely different atmosphere every time you move forward. This is where the game really shines and mixes up the gameplay without really changing anything at all. One minute, you could have a black and white theme with a slower, more melodic trance track, the next you can have a bright, colorful look with a fast, up-beat dance track. No matter the skin you are playing at any given moment, they all look great, and with over forty skins in the game, you will not see the same skin often. Difficulty is loosely connected with the changing of skins, and it seems the faster the song, the faster the squares drop. The beauty of this system is though you may have a few fast songs in a row, there is always a slower skin mixed in to help you catch up and keep your piles low. Even someone new to the Lumines series will find this game very approachable, but there is plenty of challenge in the game to give a veteran Lumines player a run for their money.
The next mode available is the duel mode. This mode features competitive multiplayer in which players are playing on the same space. There is a large, dividing line down the middle of the screen that serves as a boundary, past which no player’s block can cross. It moves in the direction of the losing player, giving them less and less space to drop blocks. The further behind they get, the more the line moves into their space. The line continues moving until one player can no longer drop blocks onto their space. This mode is incredibly fun, and it gets quite tense at times. There are also power-ups and power-downs that can be sent over to your opponent, including a randomizer block and a power-up that will make their blocks harder to see. This mode is an excellent addition to the game, and it brings yet another layer of interactivity to a genre that is traditionally more single-player oriented. The only complaint I have is that players have to play against one another; it would have been nice to be able to play against a computer opponent. Though finding opponents isn’t difficult, it would be nice if you could just experience a duel without being connected to the internet.
There is also a time attack mode, where you play the game from thirty second intervals to five minute intervals, racking up the highest score you can. There is also a master mode where you must achieve a certain score to master the level. As you progress, the levels get faster and more intense. Finally, you can set up a playlist and enjoy your favorite unlocked skins in any order you wish.
Overall, Lumines: Electronic Symphony is a beautiful and fun game. It is very approachable for new players, yet challenging and deep for veterans of the series. With plenty of modes to choose from, with multiplayer options on top of that, there isn’t much this game doesn’t offer to its fans. Though the game retails for $39.99, the amount of gameplay you get from that money is immense. If you want a game that has a ton of replay value, you need to get your hands on Lumines: Electronic Symphony.
[xrr rating=9/10, max_stars=10]
This review is based on a review copy of the Playstation Vita version of Lumines: Electronic Symphony by Ubisoft