korolev's Lumines: Electronic Symphony (PlayStation Vita) review

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It's Lumines

Lumines was one of the greatest PSP games - combining some pretty interesting puzzle mechanics with a wonderful light show and some pretty decent music. There have been a number of sequels to the original lumines, none of which I played until now.

Lumines: Electronic Symphony is..... well... lumines. 2-Coloured four-square blocks descend, you have to rotate and place them on the screen to create new squares composing of a single colour. A line will periodically erase the created squares and your actions will affect some of the music and background imagery on the stage. Does that sound a lot like Lumines for the PSP? Well, that's because Lumines:ES is a lot like Lumines for the PSP.

The Puzzle mechanics are almost completely the same save for two things: There are "shuffle blocks" which will randomly or semi-randomly shuffle the colours in your well of blocks, and the avatars have special powers (even though there's only 4 or 5, which are repeated a lot for the 30+ avatars you can unlock). Some of these powers are really useful: Like holding the time-line so you can build a bigger combo, or giving you a chain-block when you need one. Others, like "four one-colour Blocks" or "shuffle block on demand" are relatively useless.

The only real difference is the sights and the sounds. Make no mistake, this game is beautiful. It really is a sight to behold when seen on the PS Vita's gorgeous screen. Brilliant colors, moving images, unique designs all make the game a visual blast. The music is a little disappointing - they have more famous artists but some of the music is rather bland and one or two tracks are even a little offensive ("good-girl" in particular, in which a man commands his partner to act like a dog, which is more than a little uncomfortable). There are good tracks - but nothing that matches the tracks seen in the original lumines.

The game also comes with a variety of modes: Master Mode puts the player through five zones of increasingly difficult standard play - and let me tell you, around Zone 4 it starts getting REALLY hard. Playlist mode lets you mix-and-match stages at your convenience, which is nice as now I don't have to play through "good girl" or that stage in which the music consists of nothing more than "Hey Boy! Hey Girl!" which was just annoying. Stopwatch mode gives you a limited time to clear a set amount of blocks, and it's alright. Perhaps the biggest addition to Lumines ES is the "World Block" this is a 2-million block cube that is slowly chipped away depending on how many blocks ALL players have erased in their game.

Lumines is wonderful to look at, and some what nice to listen to (although techno and electronic music really isn't my thing). While it has new modes, the inability to make your own stages and use your own music (which a previous Lumines game had) is a real set-back. Also, if you've played Lumines before, you know what to expect. I got really good at the original Lumines, so when I started playing Lumines Electronic Symphony, I was expecting a challenge. Instead, I unlocked every single stage within the first go at "voyage" mode and within 2 days almost every single avatar. And unless you really like the multiplayer (which I do not), then there is precious little reason to keep playing Lumines ES after you're done with it.

I'm not saying it's a bad game - it's a beautiful game that will entertain you quite a bit, and which you'll love if you've never played a lumines game before. But for anyone else who has ever played Lumines... yeah, you've played this game.

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