Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Lumines: Electronic Symphony

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Electronic Theatre ImageQ Entertainment’s Lumines has become synonymous with the handheld PlayStation formats. While it has appeared on other systems, including PlayStation2, Xbox 360 and even iOS, Lumines is most commonly known for its debut on the PlayStation Portable (PSP) seven years ago. Here on PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) however, Lumines: Electronic Symphony is about to change all that.

As with the original title Lumines: Electronic Symphony is developed Q Entertainment, but for the first time with an original title in the series, not by a team lead by renowned designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the same mind responisble for the hugely imaginative Child of Eden. Instead, the face of Lumines: Electronic Symphony was former Electronic Theatre Imagevideogames journalist James Mielke, a relative unknown as far as videogame development goes. Of course, Mielke did have some fairly solid ground to build on, but that’s not to say that in Lumines: Electronic Symphony, he hasn’t helped to deliver a product wholly worthy of such heritage.

Lumines: Electronic Symphony doesn’t break the formula of the series, with any gamer who’s played any previous title likely to feel instantly at home. Players have sets of dual coloured coming into play from the top of the screen and must arrange them in such a fashion hat they are removed from play by a scrolling bar. Unlike similar block puzzle videogames it’s not a case of creating full lines or matching three of the same type, players must create squares of two-by-two blocks, and then expand on them in any direction by adding two further adjacent blocks of the same colour, so long as the block of coloured created remains a solid mass. These matched blocks disappear as the scrolling bar passes by, causing blocks above to fall and potentially creating combos. Same puzzle game as it ever was, then; but the innovation lies in the new gameplay modes.

The Voyage mode is the traditional gameplay experience, wherein players embark on a never-ending journey through eccentric visual design and the full stunning soundtrack; for as long as they can survive, of course. The Playlist mode allows players to arrange the visual skins/tracks that they have unlocked into any order they Electronic Theatre Imagechoose, and the Duel mode is an ad hoc-only two-player competition. The Master and Stopwatch modes are difficult and times variations of the core gameplay, while World Block is an interesting new addition. A community mode in which all players connected to the PlayStation Network contributes to hacking away at a giant block made of many smaller blocks just by playing the other gameplay modes, those who participate receive additional bonuses based on the amount of blocks they contribute in a twenty four hour period.

Hand-in-hand with the World Block mode is the overarching XP system. Continued play will unlock new avatars with special abilities for single-player and multiplayer matches. These abilities range from being able to set your own special block to rearranging the upcoming blocks – benefits which are unquestionably useful.

Of course, one of the most well known aspects of Lumines is the magnetic clash of visual and aural design, and in this respect Lumines: Electronic Symphony doesn’t disappoint. It’s true that a number of the skins seen here have been used in earlier titles, but the design remains unique in spite of such minor grievances. The soundtrack of Lumines: Electronic Symphony is, as would be Electronic Theatre Imageexpected, simply fantastic. With artists ranging from Underworld to LCD Soundsystem, Pet Shop Boys to Daft Punk, Lumines: Electronic Symphony could just as easily be the soundtrack an psychedelic night out as it is a videogame.

It could be argued that the Lumines formula is aging. That after half-a-dozen releases, Lumines is a videogame that’s running out of room, needing innovation to avoid becoming stagnant. The trouble is, while that might be the case for any other puzzle title, Lumines: Electronic Symphony feels as fresh here on PS Vita as it did seven years ago on PSP. It’s a videogame that redefines itself continuously with new hardware and new soundtracks, and while  Electronic Theatre can’t say that any successive title will be just as impressive, base don the evidence presented by Lumines: Electronic Symphony, we can’t wait to find out.

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