Supernova is a blast! (Sorry, I had to say it)
Lumines Supernova is the latest in the trippy puzzle series, and the first to premiere on the PS3. As someone who owned and played the hell out of Lumines Live! for the 360, it is clear to me that Q Entertainment has listened to fan feedback when crafting this downloadable title. The main complaint leveled against Supernova's downloadable predecessor was leveled towards the game's pricing structure, which nickeled and dimed players endlessly to add features that should have been in the game in the first place. Supernova clears this hurdle and comes packaged with several cool new modes. In addition to the Classic mode (which is still easily the best of the bunch) there are a number of new modes: a Puzzle mode which challeneges players to clear all blocks on the screen in a certain number of moves; a Mission mode in which players must create shapes out of the colored blocks; a Dig-Down mode, which asks players to clear a filled screen; and finally a Sequencer mode which allows players to create their own beats.
The Classic and Puzzle modes are actually quite easy. The solutions to the puzzles remain pretty obvious through the end, so this mode seems more like a distraction than a full-fledged brainteaser. Classic mode, unlike similar modes in other puzzle games, never really ramps the difficulty up. Instead, each increasing level brings with it a change in tempo, music, and skin. While this makes for a very dynamic experience, and it can prove a little disorienting to new players, it will soon become possible to play for hours on end without losing. I typically quit playing Classic mode after an hour or two out of boredom rather than losing to the computer. It should also be noted that several of the skins in Supernova aren't actually new, but taken from past entries such as Lumines Live!. The mission mode, on the other hand, can sometimes become rediculously difficult. It's fun to see what shapes can be made out of Lumines blocks, but at the same time many of these missions come down to luck rather than skill. The Dig-Down and Sequencer modes are entertaining enough, but none of the extra modes are enough to make me quit heading straight for Classic on the menu.
One odd omission from Supernova is any sort of multiplayer mode. Lumines Live! had a VS CPU mode (which had to be bought seperately) and an online multiplayer component, and it's rather strange to see that this sequel lacks these options. Perhaps they will be added as downloadable content in the future. Speaking of DLC, Q Entertainment is clearly very fond of the whole concept. A "new" set of skins was just released under the name of The Classic Collection. These skins are classics from the first two Lumines games. It is evident that we should expect more DLC in the future.
While Supernova is a solid puzzle game in all respects, the thing that really puts it above all other games in the genre is the ambiance that it creates. The trippy music and flashing visuals are capable of putting players in a trance-like state that few, if any, other games have achieved. Lumines Supernova is the closest I've come to being high on drugs.
Graphics: 8.5/10: They're just blocks, but they sure are purty. Also, the background skins look great.
Sound: 9.75/10: The best element of Lumines, the sounds are absolutely hypnotic.
Gameplay: 8/10: It's a puzzle game. You destroy blocks.