Most helpful critical review
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Shedding light on Lumines
on 23 February 2012
Lumines is a block clearing game woven with a strong music driven setting and gameplay mechanic.
Unlike Tetris and it's various spinoffs, rather than trying to clear a line of blocks, in Lumines one clears (at least in basic terms) squares of blocks by matching 4 blocks of the same colour. In each Lumines level there are only 2 colours and each new tile is a 2 by 2 square with various combinations of coulrs. Having matched up four same coloured blocks to create a square, it does not clear immediately from the play field. Instead, a bar passes left to right across the screen in time with the rhythm of the track playing - it is the passage of the bar over a square that clears it and causes the pieces above to fall and reshuffle potentially creating further like-coloured squares that will clear the next time the bar passes. Timing ones squares so as many as possible are cleared by a single pass of the bar nets bigger bonuses.
Advanced players though will not worry about making squares and instead try to create long chains of connected blocks of the same colour. They will do this in order to use a special "Chain" block which will clear all blocks of the same colour which are touching. This technique can net massive scores if done right and allows faster progress through the game than clearing squares. Chain blocks are given as bonuses for clearing blocks but this is where Lumines' Avatar system comes into play - some avatars let one force the production of a chain block at a convenient time.
So this is what elevates Lumines above the standard block clearing game - there is a basic mechanic for clearing blocks by making squares, but that is not the optimal approach in terms of score/time, so the player is often trying to avoid making squares in order to get a bigger score later - thus Lumines has a nice balance between going for the chain block score and avoiding being forced into creating a block which will break the chain.
The game has Voyage mode (play though all songs), Duel mode (adhoc multiplayer only), Block mode (contribute to the worldwide block pool to gain experience), stopwatch (max score in fixed time), Master (basically a Tetris style game where block dropping gradually speeds up) and Playlist which lets one choose their favourite game tunes to play with. There's no direct online multiplayer though.
Graphically the game is generally good enough given that it's a block clearing game. The User interface is a little clunky and given the price set for Lumines I would have expected additional gameplay modes like puzzle, internet online etc.
Lumines was on the original PSP of course, but has been ported to many other platforms now. Even so, I think it is still best suited to a handheld platform like Vita so, as Lumines goes this is probably the best playing version available even though it isn't the most content heavy.
Given the price I don't think it is worth 5 stars overall - for more like £10-£15 then this would be a definite purchase. At £30+ it's a bit more of a difficult recommendation given the strong set of titles on the Vita. At the current price, this is probably only going to be sufficient value to people who already know and love Lumines (assuming they're not burned out on Lumines already!)