Q’s hit franchise returns for the Vita launch...
Written by Super User
Published Wednesday, 29 February 2012 19:00
The Lumines franchise has always been an addictive puzzle game experience. Few games are as revered for their soundtracks and style as they are for their core fundamentals. Though it has been a while since a Lumines title has appeared on a Sony handheld, Electronic Symphony arrives without missing so much as a beat. Despite not changing up the formula too drastically, Lumines: Electronic Symphony is a perfect reminder that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…just make it prettier.
Part of what makes Lumines: Electronic Symphony so fascinating is its simplicity. Players merely have to match small blocks of like colors to eliminate the set from the playing field. Larger groupings of colors can be matched for bigger scores, and thus huge combos can be earned. The quicker you can eliminate blocks from your field of play, the longer you’ll be able to stick around in the game. As your score increases, the game not only switches color palettes, but rhythms as well. There are nearly fifty different skins and music tracks to play through and unlock, which gives Lumines plenty of legs. Fortunately, no matter what level of skill you have with the game, all unlocks are keyed to an experience system that benefits both long-session players and those who prefer shorter bursts.
"Lumines: Electronic Symphony is the perfect culmination of simple game design and stellar presentation."
No matter which of the game’s modes you choose to play through, you’ll be earning experience. The main mode, Voyage, is an trip through all the available tracks and skins, and will take loads of endurance to make it to the end. As the game’s default mode, Voyage is likely where you’ll be spending most of your time battling for high scores on leaderboards with your friends. You can play against another player in Duel mode, but the competitive elimination style of play doesn’t really engage you the way the single-player modes do. Both Master and Stopwatch pit you against a clock, though Master takes things a bit further, and is a true challenge of all the skills you’ve been building up the moment you started playing the game. In Master, there’s a quota of blocks you need to eliminate across five different, increasingly difficult stages.
Coming to your aid in almost all of these modes are the new special block types and avatars. Chain blocks can lead to you going on an insanely high combo run if you strategically place your colored blocks across the board. By dropping a Chain block, you’ll eliminate all like-colored blocks on the board that are connected in any way but diagonally. Shuffle blocks are a bit trickier to use, as they’ll effectively randomize all the blocks that it comes into contact with. It could completely ruin whatever strategy you have in place, or turn a horribly desperate situation into a massive point blowout. Both present excellent opportunities for huge point totals, but you won’t just have to rely on the special blocks to earn big payouts. Avatars you can unlock also come with special abilities, and learning which avatar benefits your play style can lead to you becoming an even bigger scoring threat. While you can use your avatar to unlock Chain and Shuffle blocks by building up a combo meter, you can also earn the ability to slow time or randomize the blocks on the board to your advantage. The powers add a new twist to the familiar formula, and savvy players will be able to jump all over the new abilities to create bigger scores faster than they thought possible. You can always just not activate the ability if you’re a purist, but once you see some of the scores your friends are putting up, the special abilities will be hard to resist.
While Lumines doesn’t take place on vast worlds with crumbling cityscapes, there’s still a great deal of effort put into the presentation of the game. New skins and tracks begin and end as quickly as you can put up big points, and the changing color schemes are often perfectly suited to the track they represent. It might take a bit of adjusting when the shapes of the blocks start evolving into circles or leaves, but it’s that subtle shift that makes Lumines so entrancing. Before you know it, you’re in a groove of shapes and sounds that is both calming and exhilarating. Seeing the vibrant colors and bombastic tracks give way to slightly warmer hues and more laid back beats as you progress adds to the ambiance of the game, making Lumines one of the most engrossing puzzle games ever created. Everything is crisp and sharp, and the Vita’s display really pops when blocks are dropping and disintegrating with frequent fluidity.
Lumines: Electronic Symphony is the perfect culmination of simple game design and stellar presentation. There’s a great depth of challenge for those who wish to find it, but the game never shuts out more casual players with crushing difficulty. There’s a mystique to the way this clever puzzle game is able to draw you in, and keep you interested hour after hour. While it’s true there hasn’t been much change in the way the game is played, there’s nothing wrong with that. The few new additions make playing Electronic Symphony a treat, and Vita owners would do well to add this intriguing title to their library.
Release date : 2012-02-15
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Q Entertainment
Gameplay : Music,Tempo, Dance
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