Almost seven years after it was released alongside the PSP, is still a must-have game for the system. Its uncomplicated Tetris-style gameplay makes it fun to play for both short and extended periods of time, and its stylish presentation still serves as something of a showpiece for what the aging handheld has to offer. Now, Lumines: Electronic Symphony has been released alongside the PlayStation Vita, and while it isn't nearly as new and exciting as the first game was, it makes some noticeable improvements to the formula and might very well be the one Vita launch game that you're still playing a year or two from now.
6350808NoneDuel mode is a blast if both players are similarly skilled.
As in Lumines, your goal in Electronic Symphony is to rotate falling squares comprising four small blocks so that blocks of the same color join to form shapes measuring at least two by two. You move blocks with the D-pad and rotate them with face buttons, unless you're a masochist, in which case you can try to do everything with the relatively imprecise touch screen. These blocks don't disappear immediately, but rather when they're hit by the timeline--a vertical line that moves horizontally across the screen at varying speeds. This line, along with the fact that hanging blocks succumb to the pull of gravity, is what sets the game apart from other Tetris-style offerings. You have to pay attention to the timeline at all times, because as it sweeps from left to right it changes the landscape of the playing field that you're dropping squares onto. Mistime a drop by even a fraction of a second, and you might end up with a pile of mismatched squares instead of points.
The primary mode of play in Lumines: Electronic Symphony, titled Voyage, introduces new audio and visual themes (known as skins) as you progress. All of them look great, and the 30-plus tracks from the likes of The Chemical Brothers, LCD Soundsystem, Underworld, and Goldfrapp belong on your MP3 player if you have a penchant for electronic music. At first blush you could be forgiven for thinking that the skin changes are purely aesthetic; there are still only two different colors of blocks, and they still fall in the same square formations, after all. The skins' impact on gameplay quickly becomes apparent, though, when you realize that both the falling blocks and the timeline move at different speeds. Slow-falling squares combined with a speedy timeline means you have plenty of time to line up blocks that disappear almost as quickly as you can drop them. Conversely, fast-falling squares and a tardy timeline can quickly see the screen filling up as even blocks that you've matched linger for a time.
One of the great things about the never-ending Voyage mode is that, as you play, skins don't get more challenging in a linear fashion. They appear in the same order every time you play, but the action ebbs and flows in a satisfying way as challenging skins that make it tough to keep your screen clear are eventually followed by more forgiving ones that afford you an opportunity to clean up. Also helping your cause are a couple of special block types that show up occasionally.
As you finish one skin, the next sweeps in seamlessly behind the timeline.