Playstation Vita owners may be waiting for that next great game, but many have overlooked one that has been staring them in the face the entire time. "Lumines: Electronic Symphony" is by far one of the best titles available for the fledgling hand-held. If you don't own it, then you should hang your head in shame.
I love puzzle games. Ever since I popped Tetris into my original Game Boy, I've been hooked. Music and graphics have changed over the last 20 years, but the core element of puzzle games never changes. They challenge the player in ways that other games can't, they're fun, and more often than not, they're addictive.
Those familiar with the "Lumines" series will notice the formula hasn't changed much. Two-tone blocks fall from the top of the screen while the player maneuvers them into place, causing as many same-colored squares as possible to vanish. It's similar to Super Puzzle Fighter 3D.
There are several different modes to choose from in the game. Your standard Time Trials mode is in there. Master mode throws challenges at the player and dictates goals that must be accomplished. Voyage mode allows the player to keep playing as long as he/she wants until they want to throw the Vita in a fit of rage, or the screen fills with blocks and you lose. There's also a Duel mode, allowing two players to play against one another.
Assisting the player throughout the game are on-screen avatars. You empower your avatar using the Vita's rear touchpad. Once empowered, their special moves can slow the blocks as they fall and even manipulate the squares on the bottom in your favor. The more the avatars help in the game, the higher your score will become.
Speaking of scores, "Lumines" allows players to see the high scores of all their friends. Finishing a level will cause your friends' lists to appear, showing how awesome you might be and how terrible they most likely are. Beating your friends just makes the rush of the game even greater.
The music in the game adds to the overall enjoyment. With tracks from The Chemical Brothers, LCD Soundsystem, Underworld and more, players will definitely not be disappointed. "Lumines" allows players to make their own playlists to customize their playing experience.
Although it's a simple puzzle game, Developer Q Entertainment has added some RPG elements into the mix. As players go through the game, they earn experience points. These points can unlock new avatars, skins, and other goodies. It's a small feature, but adds another dimension to the game.
Players familiar with past "Lumines" titles will remember there used to be a puzzle mode, in which players had to reconstruct a picture with falling blocks. Unfortunately, this has been left out of the current iteration.
"Lumines: Electronic Symphony" isn't an overly complicated game. It's not going to win awards for intricate story lines or memorable boss fights. It's simply fun. The music is top-notch and the individual skins are varied and well designed. Integrating the Vita's touch screen into the mix only adds to the enjoyment of the game, more so than in previous installments. The game was a launch title. If you didn't pick it up on day one, I suggest you go out and get it now. If you do, look me up, because I'll bet my high scores are way better than yours!