Optional touch controls aside, Lumines Electronic Symphony is the best version of Lumines ever.
Sony handheld launches mean two things to me: some kick-ass new hardware and Lumines. It was the first game I played on my original launch PSP and guess what, Lumines Electronic Symphony was the first game I played on my Vita. It had been quite a bit of time since I threw on a pair of headphones and tackled some music puzzle action but I was more than up for the challenge.
As a refresher for those of you that might not know, Lumines is a music puzzle game. You are tasked with making blocks of matching color which will disappear as a timeline sweeps across the screen to the beat of the song. This version is by far the best looking one yet. I think that is due to not only the Vita’s incredible looking screen, I don’t think there a anything that can look bad on it, but the game has now gone to a 2.5 dimension visual style. The blocks are no longer just rendered sprites, you are getting full on polygonal models. This allows for the blocks to have all sorts of crazy textures that can be displayed on them. It really helps them pop off the screen like never before.
The game controls how you think it would, using the D-Pad or analog stick you can move your blocks around the play area. There aren’t many games that make you feel like you are part of a song, but Lumines is one that does just that. Every little thing you do seems to make a sound that is sync’d up to the beat. The Vita version has added some touch controls but after a minute or two, you will probably never use them again. They just don’t seem responsive enough to keep up with the fast-paced electronic soundtrack. To keep up with some of these songs you really need to be on your heels. But the game does a good job of pacing, you will seem to have some slower tempo jams after all of the insane high speed ones.
I was never a really good player in the first Lumines game. I don’t think I ever played through all the skins on the challenge mode or whatever it was called back then. This is something that is totally different with Lumines Electronic Symphony. I don’t know if it is because I am some sort of super bad-ass now but I managed loop the “Voyage” mode on two occasions. While my score is not insane, they are still higher than anything I have ever gotten in past iterations of Lumines. Additionally you can now continue from the last skin you lost at, although it comes at the price of losing your score. Anytime you end a game your score gets turned into experience, yes even Lumines has RPG elements now. Gaining levels will unlock new skins and avatars, all of which can be gifted in “near”. But the truth is I sadly am not the bad-ass I want to be, the game has some new improvements which for sure have helped me out.
The first is the new shuffle block. This block is a life-saver if you are in a bind. Take the example where you have a huge well of all kinds of jumbled up squares. If you get a shuffle block, it will randomly mix up any and all of the blocks it is connected to. This can help you create huge combos pretty much for free. Also the game has added abilities to the on-screen avatars. By tapping on the backtouch pad you can gain meter to change the upcoming block’s type. Some of the abilities include creating a chain block, a shuffle block, or just making the next three block all solid colors. Tapping the back of the Vita becomes infectious. I find myself doing it even in the modes where the avatar abilities are turned off.
Besides the aforementioned Voyage the game features a slew of other modes. There is the Playlist mode, where you can create your own mixes of your favorite skins.
These skins are unlocked by gaining experience levels, so the more you play the more you unlock. I think by level 20 or so you have access to most of them. There is also a Master mode, where you are given a certain number of blocks to clear. Doing so will unlock a new stage which features a faster more intense song and a higher number of blocks you will need to clear. There is also a timed mode called Stopwatch. Here you have to clear as much as possible in a set amount of time. All of these modes add some value to the game, but I for one really miss the Puzzle mode. I am a sucker for those type of puzzles. There is also an ad-hoc multiplayer mode called Duel, but at the time of this review I have no friends to try it with.
Lumines Electronic Symphony is not only great for quick pick up and play sessions, but you can seriously just get lost in the moment while playing the game. There isn’t another game out there currently where I can just sit down and somehow lose 2 hours of my day without even knowing it. And this is definitely not a bad thing. So if you are looking for a great puzzle game for your Vita, look no further than the high action, jamming sounds of Lumines Electronic Symphony.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
Chris K's Score:
What I Like:
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Release Date:February 2012
Players:1 (Local), 2 (Ad Hoc)