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Lumines (PSP) artwork

Lumines (PSP) review

"Youíll know when youíre there because your fingers will be moving as if they arenít yours, and your score will be skyrocketing. Youíll be flicking tiles this way and that, dropping one in one place and hardly even noticing as it begins to flash because youíre already working with the next play."

I play Lumines because itís fun. Itís not the graphics (this is a puzzle game), itís not the play control (which is simple perfection) and itís not even the soundtrack (itís mesmerizing). At the end of the day, the reason to play any game is the fun it provides. Lumines is a lot of fun.

With a puzzle game, itís hard to make significant innovations. Lumines takes the smart route and embraces that fact. Instead of trying something original for the sake of being different, the developers instead just polished a simple concept until it shines. Tell me if this sounds familiar: you must direct blocks as they drop into a confined space, where connecting four of them will cause them to flash and disappear.

That concept drives Lumines, and itís almost as simple as it sounds. There are, of course, complications. Fortunately, they donít get in the way of a good time. Theyíre like the sweet roses that make the frosting on the cake even better. One twist is that the four connecting pieces must be in the shape of a square. Just getting four in a row doesnít cut it, which is good since youíd be able to do that so darn easily. There are, after all, only two block types.

Wait a minute. Two block types? Yes, just two. The colors change as you progress through levels (and so does the techno soundtrack), but there will never be more than two hues on the screen at any one time. This frees you up to instinctively move, twist and drop blocks. It provides addictive play like you havenít encountered since Tetris. Finally, you donít spend half your time strategizing. Here, itís all about survival.

To play Lumines, you have to be able to get into ďthe zone.Ē Youíll know when youíre there because your fingers will be moving as if they arenít yours, and your score will be skyrocketing. Youíll be flicking tiles this way and that, dropping one in one place and hardly even noticing as it begins to flash because youíre already working with the next play. The two combinations youíve begun link together just in time, even as you drop a third set of tiles that has a detonator. Suddenly, the music heightens its pitch just as half the screen flashes in white light and the level of debris drops sharply. A voice in the back of your head murmurs a faint cheer, but youíre already onto the next play. Thatís Lumines.

When I play Lumines, I constantly find myself thinking ďJust one more game canít hurt.Ē Then, two or three games later, Iíve spent an hour just having a great time. It helps that there are tangible rewards. The better you get, the better the game gets. Blocks drop faster, music grows more frenzied and the skins get cooler. I mention those skins because theyíre a part of why youíll want to keep playing. Every time you unlock a new one, youíll look at your collection and think ďWow, that would be so much cooler if I had just one more.Ē Lumines can make a person downright greedy.

So yeah, thatís why I play Lumines. I could probably tell you more about the music, which would make me sound like a real nerd. I could wax poetic about the graphics and the epileptic flashes and maybe I could even try to sound smart by going on at length about the balance. I could throw around phrases like ďreal music power,Ē but we all know how stupid such things sound. It would be a waste of your time and mine. Besides, Iíd rather play Lumines.

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (March 20, 2006)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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