I find it hard to believe that it's been 7 years since Lumines first appeared on the PSP back in 2005. Not being much of a puzzle gamer and having never played Tetris (say whaaat!?) I never expected much, but I went ahead and purchased it due to all the positivity garnered towards it. Since then I must say I've never looked back!
Lumines, pronounced Lu-min-ez and not Lu-mines like I believed it was for the last 7 years, is simple in execution yet extremely tricky to master. Blocks, each consisting of 4 smaller blocks of two colours mixed randomly, are dropped from the top of the screen and the aim is to match up small blocks of the same colour into 4 or more blocks of their own (following...?). Added to the equation is what the game calls the Time Line, which is basically a line that clears away all your formed blocks as it passes across the screen. Trust me, the principle is easy. Your goal is to ultimately score as highly as you can before the screen fills up.
What brings Lumines to life, and what the series is perhaps best known for, is the music. Oh, the MUSIC!! As you go about trying to reign as the ultimate Lumines King, the game's track list changes at regular intervals bringing with it new skins, new colours, new background visuals and varying levels of speed at which the Time Line moves and the blocks fall. Believe me, the combination of fast falling blocks and a slow Time Line is not a friendly one. The music is also excellently varied, from well known pop tracks to sweet, soft and mellow beats that makes you believe the world is a gentle place and that everything is going to be okay. That is until you notice your screen is quickly filling up and you realise what a nasty trick the game has just pulled on you. Not only is Lumines an excellent Puzzler, it's also a brilliantly evocative stirrer of emotions.
Avatars have always been a present, albeit useless, feature in Lumines since day one. Electronic Symphony introduces us to Avatars once more, only this time each avatar has it's own special ability to use within the game when things are looking bleak and your block busting stamina is wearing thin. These can be real life savers getting you through some of the tricker songs and back into calmer tides.
On the downside, Lumines offers little innovation from previous instalments and the developers have even removed Puzzle Mode (making pictures with blocks as quickly as possible) from the equation. This is only mildly disappointing and not something to be particularly upset about.
The price of the game is also certainly an issue. As great as Lumines is, £30 is asking a lot indeed. I strongly believe this should of been a PSN downloadable title at £15 max. The trophy list is also strong evidence of this. While full priced titles sport trophy numbers of up to 30 or 40 achievable trophies , Lumines has a mere 13 trophies with no PLATINUM. This is outright outrageously scandalous to a trophy hunter such as myself. Sad but true.
Of course, I wouldn't blame anyone for purchasing Electronic Symphony at this price, because it's an excellent game. Had the price been lower my score would of been higher.