Buying a PSP? This is Must-Have Game
The blocks fall in sets of four in square formation. The four blocks that create the piece can each be one of two colors. As you stack the blocks, you are trying to create groups of similar colors much like you would in Super Puzzle Fighter. These clusters will merge together to make larger blocks. Now, here's where the music comes in. What will start out as your average background music evolves as you clear out blocks. A vertical music staff bar scrolls across the screen from left to right in beat with the music. As the staff passes through a cluster of blocks, it erases them, and with each cluster erased, a new layer is added to the song. The bigger the combo you create the more significant the jump in the music. So instead of simply trying to clear a number of blocks to reach a new 'level,' you are creating a song and once the song is complete, you move on to the next "skin" (song).
All of this may sound complicated, but it is actually rather simple. If you ever found yourself hopelessly addicted to the likes of Tetris or Dr. Mario, or even if you're simply looking for something refreshingly different for your PSP, Lumines is an excellent choice.
Honestly Lumines isn't going to win any graphics awards, but it does offer a sense of style and flare, allbeit in a simplistic way, like no puzzle game has before. The game features a constant barrage of lavish colors and animated backgrounds that keep the screen alive when it could just as easily have been drab and dull (Tetris).
As you would expect from a falling block style puzzle game, the controls are straight forward. Instead of the physical controls, the focus in this department should be squarely upon the addictive nature of the gameplay. At it's core, Lumines is the perfect videogame. It's easy to get into; it's difficult to master; and it offers the type of challenge that can be enjoyed by all who try it. You can play it for 10 minutes or 5 hours and have just as much fun. Combine these traits with a simple, yet excellent, idea of fusing music with the type of puzzle games we've all been playing for 15+ years and you have an all new brand of addictive gameplay.
The tracks available in Lumines are all composed by Japanese club music producer Mondo Grosso. As you would expect, they all have a techno/electronic sound. Even so, the tracklist covers many different types of songs. Rather than just making each "level" faster and faster like most puzzle games, Lumines mixes things up by throwing you different tempos. This plays a major factor since the scrolling staff moves to the beat of the given song. So in a slow song, you may have more time to decide where to place blocks, but you'll also fill up the screen faster since the staff isn't sweeping through as often. In the faster songs, you'll be scurrying to make bigger clusters before the staff wipes out your small ones. Obviously each song offers a unique challenge, which is a refreshing new take on the genre. You don't have to be a fan of techno style music to find yourself tapping your foot as you play this game.
The beauty of puzzle games is that they never really end. Also, they're the kind of game that you can pick up and play for 10 or 15 minutes when you're bored or just haven't played in a while. The game does offer a few extra modes aside from the standard single player Challenge mode. Time Attack sets an amount of time for you to play and you try to get the highest score you can in that time. Multiplayer is present in the form of a decent Vs Mode, which you can also play vs the computer. The best "extra" is the Puzzle mode which gives you a shape to create out of the colored blocks and you try to make it. Sounds easy, but it's definitely not. My only real complaint about the structure of the game's modes is that they are completely linear. By this I mean that every time you play Challenge mode, the first song is always the same and they progress in the same order. A shuffle/remix option would've been nice, but it doesn't kill the game by not having it. Lumines is a game you can go back to time and time again even after your initial addiction wanes.
This was the first PSP game that I reserved. Lumines to me is the most different game available for the PSP. The system has a lot of ports with a couple features thrown in, and alot of remakes, but it does lack truly original games. Lumines is an original game. My initial interest was solely based on this premise, and thankfully the game lived up to expectations. It may not be the best looking game in the bunch and it's not going to amaze anyone at first sight, but Lumines is one of the best games available at launch for the PSP.
*** This review was written for Flamevault.com shortly after the release of the game. ***