I don’t know much about electronic music, but there is something quite satisfying about it playing the background as you’re trying your best to stay focused amongst a barrage of blocks. The creators of Lumines on PS Vita obviously know this because they seem to have found the perfect blend of music to puzzle action, which helps to drag you into this latest version of the game like you’d never imagine.
Puzzle games aren’t new of course, however the hardware is, so in that respect we get an alternative version of an already great game. Starting you off on a Voyage (the name of the single player mode), off you’ll go, easing into the game block by block, trying to lock them altogether to clear the screen. At this point everything is calm, the music feels perfect, everything is coming together. But then you mess up, there is a block out of place, suddenly a tower of blocks is heading towards the ceiling of your Vita, the music starts to grate on you. Why won’t it stop? You’re trying to concentrate!
The above scenario continues until you have a lightbulb moment of inspiration or until you finally end it all, watching as the screen fades away, because finally, you have lost. It’s frustrating when you lose, but exhilarating when you win and thanks to the online leaderboards, you’re always wondering “how far can I get in game?” “Can I beat my friends or are they laughing at me because I can’t even string two combos together?”
For those who haven’t played before, Lumines is a simple concept, although if this is your first time playing you are probably in for some frustration. You must match up the falling blocks by colour, placing them in a pattern of at least two by two, doing this will cause them to disappear once the beat bar moves past them during its constant horizontal wipe of the screen. The beat bar does move with the music, so timing is of the essence, as is planning. If you use the split second you have to plan well, then you can create all manner of combinations before the beat bar passes through, however if you miss your opportunity then you may find your blocks moving towards the ceiling once more.
As you move through the levels, things will start to get even more difficult, the colours and animations change, the speed accelerates to excruciating levels and the beat of the wonderful soundtrack begins to take hold, so much so that you’ll be hearing it in your sleep.
There are a few new additions in Electronic Symphony which are Vita specific. Unlockable avatars now allow you to gain different power-up abilities in single and multiplayer matches. Effects range from changing the colours of the waiting blocks, to adding in a chain block, allowing you to gain some pretty decent combos. You can use this ability by tapping the screen when your avatar is flashing, which will happen when you tap the rear touchpad in rhythm or gain enough bonuses.
Whatever you do in Electronic Symphony you are met with a new experience system. Whenever you unlock something it’s tied to this, as is whatever game mode you play. This will allow you to gain new avatars, skins and music. It’ll also count towards your overall score on the leaderboard, allowing you to compare your performance to friends.
Another feature which is pretty great is the World Block. Everything you do in the game will count towards your contribution of removing this giant cube that every player worldwide is attempting to dissipate. A quick look on the morning of writing this review showed that the block had already disappeared, although it will be back tomorrow, waiting for the World try to make is vanish once more.
The controls in Lumines are simple enough. You can use a combination of the d-pad, analog sticks, touch screens, face buttons and shoulder buttons to move and rotate your blocks. The option of these different controls scheme is excellent, as it allows you to play in the way you feel most comfortable, rather than being stuck to pre-set buttons.
Away from the main single player mode, there are less options than we would have liked. No online mode means that you are stuck with a simple Ad-Hoc mode. No challenge or puzzle mode only leaves you with the option of Master mode, which sees you playing through five different zones, trying to wipeout a set amount of blocks in each, while Stopwatch mode does what it says on the tin, you have to get the best score you can within a set time.
It’s a shame there is such a lack of modes outside the single player because Lumines: Electronic Symphony is wonderful game. It looks so bright and colourful, with bold and bright colours almost bursting out of the screen in front of your eyes. The soundtrack is also wonderful, fitting the fast paced nature of the on screen action perfectly. There is so much good about the game, just not enough of it.
If you are a puzzle buff then there is no doubt you’ll love Lumines: Electronic Symphony, it’ll drag you in with its colourful and addictive charms and not let go. As a launch game, it’s a brilliant accompaniment to the PS Vita ; as a handheld title it’s a perfect game for when you are on the go.
Rating: ExcellentReview Policy(version tested: PS Vita)
You can order Lumines Electronic Symphony for PS Vita here.