For anyone who listens to our weekly podcast the Lumines tune should be fresh in your mind. This techno-inspired puzzler was introduced at the launch of Sony’s PSP handheld and has become a cult-classic among fans of puzzle games. Created by Q Entertainment this rhythmic block breaker is one part music game, one part brain-busting experience and equal parts addiction. It is nigh impossible to put into words what makes Lumines so absorbing, but once you let yourself be overtaken by the ‘un-tiss, un-tiss, un-tiss’ you will find a hard time coming up for air.
As you might expect this newest incarnation there are a ton of new puzzles, skins, music tracks and even a couple of new modes. This is the first time the series has been available for Sony’s Cell-powered console and for newcomers it is easily the best package to date. The saddest omission though has to be a lack of online play. You can throw down locally and even upload scores to the massive online leaderboards, but if you were expecting online capabilities you will be sorely disappointed. The rest of the feature set is standard fare with eleven hard-as-nails trophies and of course HD visuals easily making this the best version of Lumines available for any system.
For the uninitiated Lumines is an interesting take on the whole puzzle genre. You are given a 10×16 block grid with 2×2 pieces of two-tone colors. The idea is to match up the colors in specific patterns before the metronome bar of each beat passes over thus wiping away the block designs. The result is an addictive mix of quick reflexes and cadenced gameplay that can easily swallow up hours of your time without warning. The real catch to Lumines is the constant progression of the levels and how they change up the further along you get. This is accomplished with the vibrant color palette and catchy, albeit repetitive, beats thumping in the background.
The default Challenge Mode returns with two modes; basic and advanced, with rewards being offered in the form of new tracks and skins. Most of the other modes found in previous games also make an appearance such as Time Attack, Mission Mode, Skin Edit and of course Puzzle. While all of these are welcome additions it is the new modes that truly separate this title from its predecessors.
The biggest addition is easily the Sequencer mode that allows you to use a rudimentary mixing device to create your own beats for the game. Considering that Lumines’ main audience probably digs the techno vibe it only seems obvious to offer them a chance to become a fly-by-night DJ. There are a variety of instruments to compose your tracks including drums, bass, effects and a host of other DJ tools that allow you to create some truly unique jams given you are willing to invest the time. Anyone who has toyed around with some of the simpler mixing programs on the PC should feel right at home.
Next on the list is Dig Down Mode, which is essentially a 20 stage test to see how quick you can clear an entire stage of blocks. The idea is simple: fill the entire screen with mismatched blocks, give you three minutes and hope you can solve it. The challenge is high and it will take time to master all twenty stages, which gives you incentive (and a trophy if you can complete it) to keep coming back. The downside though is that if you fail at any stage it is back to the beginning. Very old school in design, but you would be amazed at how addictive it quickly becomes.
While there are certainly many things that make this game worth the investment, there are some drawbacks you may want to consider. First off if you are a veteran of the series there is a lot of recycled material here. From the skins to the challenges this game packs a lot of second hand content that you have probably tackled before. The second is the aforementioned deficiency of online play. Don’t get me wrong though, the new content is far and away the best part about the game, the LittleBigPlanet skin is nearly worth the price of admission alone, but the amount of reused content will likely anger gamers who already own one of the previous versions.
Visually the game is probably the best-looking puzzle game to date. The HD display really shows off the effervescent colors and tripped-out designs, while the amount of variety in the skins keeps things fresh over extended hours of play. The music is just as impressive with a thumping soundtrack and the addition of Sequencer Mode to allow you to create your own tracks. The only thing missing here is the ability to use custom soundtracks, but that can be understandable as it could really detract from the intended experience of the game.
Lumines Supernova is easily the best iteration of the game to date. The amount of content here is simply outstanding. Unfortunately if you have been a fan of the series for a while a lot of it is going to feel a little too familiar. Of course for $14.99 it is hard not to recommend this download to anyone who enjoys a solid puzzle game. If you haven’t jumped on the Lumines bandwagon yet and own a PS3 you simply have to check out this inventive take on the genre. Before long you to will be muttering the infamous Lumines jingle of ‘un-tiss, un-tiss, un-tiss’.