Review by xSolidSnakex

"A fresh take on the standard puzzler that is simply enchanting."

Lumines is an original puzzler that was released as one of the first PSP titles. Although the premise is simple, the very accessible level of depth sets the game up to appeal to any age or skill level.

On the screen, you attempt to place blocks made up of two colors arranged in 2x2 squares into blocks of all one color. The falling blocks contain a variety of patterns, adding to the strategy you must devise on how to handle the various shapes. Once a solid 2x2 block is created, it can be clear as the ‘timeline' passes it, instead of simply going instantly as in other games of this type. The speed of the timeline is varied from skin to skin, which causes for a change of strategy, and helps to keep things varied.

In addition to these basic parts of the game, there are certain squares that contain the ability to help greatly in the clearing of the blocks. Rarely you will receive a block with a small gem in the center of a single square. When this square is formed into a solid block, all touching squares of the same color are cleared. However, as the timeline always factors in, you must create the block at the proper moment, so the timeline is able to clear the touching blocks before the special square is erased.

In the Challenge Mode, you play for as long as you can without allowing the blocks to fill up over the top of the screen. You begin with a blank screen, and as you create blocks to rack up points, the skin changes. Each skin contains its own style of blocks, as well as sound accompaniment. The skins are distinctive, and the compelling sound draws you into the whole experience. In the Vs mode, you can play a friend via Wi-Fi, or against a computer opponent to unlock even more skins. In a variation on the normal game, you play head-to-head, trying to clear the most blocks, and take control of the screen in order to force your opponent to fill the screen. There is also the rather interesting puzzle mode, in which you are given a certain shape, and must create the figure by dropping the blocks in the proper pattern. Some of these can get difficult, but fun to try and create.

The most unique part of Lumines is the way in which the sound is handled. There are a good number of skins for the blocks, which are more than just a few different color schemes. The music for each skin is varied, and the way you play actually affects what sounds come out. Moving the falling block quickly to the side with produce a sound, as will dropping the block, or creating a solid 2x2 block, all set to clear. The further you get in the mode, the faster the pace becomes, causing the music to beat rapidly, all the while being controlled by your own actions. The sound pulls the entire game together, and keeps you playing on and on, not wanting to quit.

The only way to truly explain the experience of a fast paced game with the music flaring is enchanting. With the option to play through the Challenge mode with a multitude of skins, or Time Attack, where you play the best you can for a set amount of time, the gameplay experience is truly one of a kind. The game is so widely approachable as well, allowing it just as much depth as you are willing to reach for. Complex strategies, and planning way in advance for the right blocks is just as fun as playing quickly through, just trying to hear and create all of the awesome music.

The graphics are simple, yet very effective. While Lumines is not as heavy on straight graphical power as other PSP titles, it doesn't need to be. Each skin has its own theme that coordinates the block style, music and background, to complete the setting. The graphics are crisp and clear, with a fun appearance.

There is a rather large number of skins available to unlock, and to obtain them all, you must play through multiple game modes. Lumines makes for a great game for the PSP; it can easily be picked up and enjoyed for a quick run, but keeps you coming back for more trying to beat your hi-scores, and to unlock all of the skins. When it comes right down to straight enjoyability, Lumines does not disappoint. No matter who picks up this game, it is sure to keep the player enthralled.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/29/05

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