tamaster92's Lumines: Electronic Symphony (PlayStation Network (Vita)) review

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Musical Brilliance

You should buy Lumines: Electronic Symphony. Really. Sure it's  just  the same core gameplay as every other entry in the series but the combination of new additions, new music and a visual upgrade has created a game that is not only one of the best Vita launch titles but also the best in this series.

If you've never played a Lumines game before then don't worry, it's a deceptively simple game. Using squares of two different coloureds block you try forms squares of the same colour. While it certainly takes a lot from Tetris the two are very different games as the entirety of Lumines depends on the rhythms of the songs being played.

New to this instalment of the franchise however is the inclusion of avatar powers, each avatar now has a unique ability to use in both duel and solo modes. They range from the problem solving Instant Remix, which changes the colour of random blocks, to the high score grabbing Hold The Line, which makes the time line stop moving for a few seconds. The addition of these avatar powers is integral to helping Lumines: Electronic Symphony stay fresh and not just feel like yet another rehash of the original game.

The other new gameplay addition is a couple of new block types, no longer do you simply place coloured blocks aka Tetris but instead may occasionally come across Remix or Chain Reaction blocks. These are best used to help clear large sections of the screen and I found them to be incredibly useful for new players and in fact even helped my mother get  through roughly five skins. Neither of these additions make a big enough difference to mess with the core gameplay though and the simple action of moving and rotating blocks is as tight and gratifying as ever, there are touch-screen controls but they are entirely optional and to be honest, terrible. The Vitas excellent Dpad really helps the game out as well as the clicky face buttons and I was surprised just how tightly the great gameplay is integrated into the systems strengths.

The mainstay of the Lumines series has always been it's impeccable soundtrack and Electronic Symphony is no different, the music in voyage mode is perfectly suited and creates a sense of a musical journey and often it borders on synaesthesia. Some highlights include 4am by Kaskade and In My Arms by Mylo but nearly every song is great and I feel that Electronic Symphony has the strongest soundtrack of the series yet.

The excellent music is happily married with some simple and yet superbly effective visuals which really bring the gameplay and experience to life. The blocks are now 2.5D and it really adds a lot of depth to each skin, helping make the simple visuals more attractive. The backgrounds and animations are more appealing and interactive than before too, though not to far as to be distracting from the gameplay, if anything it is improved by the visual upgrade, your blocks and combos are far easier to identify against the background which helps make the game more enjoyable to play. All of this visual flair is accentuated by the gorgeous OLED screen of the Vita, the colours really pop and although simple it really  is a beautiful game.

As far as multiplayer is concerned Electronic Symphony is a very solo game, there is a two player duel mode but this is only accessible through ad-hoc mode and so is largely unused. Instead the major area where multiple players interact is the leaderboards. High scores are the name of the game here and it is great fun, as soon as you launch the game your friends high scores are displayed prominently as well as your personal high score in comparison. This makes for a highly repayable game as you fight for a place at the top of friends list although it should be noted that if you aren't really into that kind of play then Electronic Symphony may not really be for you as the other play modes are nothing to shout about and voyage mode has the same progression every time you play. On the same note it is worth mentioning that Electronic Symphony is an expensive Lumines game and it is, at it's core, the same game as the last four iterations. If you are burnt out on the series then it may be best to give this a pass or at least wait for a price drop, though you'd be missing out on a great audio and visual experience.

There is a trophy in Lumines: Electronic Symphony which is awarded for playing for four hours in a day, I earned it in my first play session, if that isn't a glowing recommendation I'm not sure what would be. Sure it may just be a new iteration on the franchise but when  the games are this good, who cares?


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