"Each stage is played in a series of ďskins.Ē These skins make up a background and a musical track. Every time you do anything, whether it be moving a block or erasing a stack, the music reacts. the background pulses and shifts. As you stay alive, the skin changes, so that playing the game becomes less an attempt to get lots of points and more an attempt to stay alive to see as many interesting skins as possible."
Iím gonna be honest and tell you, at great personal risk to my reputation, that I donít like Tetris. I never have. Despite Tetris being the undeniable king of puzzle games, I find it to be simultaneously boring and anxiety producing, a set of emotions that I donít like pairing up together.
If youíve played Lumines, you might think you see where this is going, because Lumines plays a lot like Tetris. But hold on, the review isnít done yet. Iím obligated to write at least 500 words, and Iíll be damned if I donít throw some surprises in there.
Like this one: I enjoyed Lumines: Supernova.
Giving your game a name like SUPERNOVA is a little pretentious. Itís one of those words that carries a lot of weight without actually meaning anything. I might as well call myself LORD AWESOME in each of my reviews (now that I think about it, I donít know why I havenít done this yet).
Iím not sure what Supernova is supposed to refer to in this version of Lumines. It plays exactly like any of the other Lumines games. You drop a series of boxes made up of four colored squares into a box, trying to match colors with adjacent boxes to remove the boxes and get points. Let your boxes stack up to the top and you lose (shedding tears optional).
The trick is that the boxes donít disappear right away. Every couple of seconds, a line crosses the playing field, and erases valid boxes as it passes them. This leads to a new level of strategy as you have to play around with the timing of disappearing blocks. Good players (read: not me) can use the line and timing to set up huge combos.
Even so, thereís a very limited number of box configurations, so it can get a bit stale once you learn the basic strategies. Lumines is well aware of this, and it takes a number of steps to spice things up.
First of all, thereís a lot of different modes of play. Thereís a puzzle mode, where you have to erase all the boxes in a certain number of moves. Thereís timed mode, where you race against a clock to get points. Thereís even a challenge mode where you supposedly build pictures with the blocks, but I canít for the life of me figure it out.
But thatís all the boring stuff. Anyone who has played Lumines has come here for the laser show.
Simplistic games like Lumines and Tetris have suffered a major withdrawal from the console market since the days of the SNES. They are meant to be played as casual time passers. Theyíre perfect for the handheld market, where you need something mindless to do while waiting for the bus, but when you sit down in front of your screen for an all-nighter, itís likely they wonít make it into the lineup with Fallout 3, Resistance 2, and Little Big Planet.
The few puzzle games that do make it onto the consoles strive to focus on using great graphics and sound to amplify the experience. I could go off about LSD here, but I already did that in my Everyday Shooter review. I am reminded of Everyday Shooter, though, because Lumines takes the same approach to involving the player in the gameplay.
Each stage is played in a series of ďskins.Ē These skins make up a background and a musical track. Every time you do anything, whether it be moving a block or erasing a stack, the music reacts. the background pulses and shifts. As you stay alive, the skin changes, so that playing the game becomes less an attempt to get lots of points and more an attempt to stay alive to see as many interesting skins as possible.
Itís one of those things thatís hard to describe well, but believe me, itís pretty engrossing. It feels a lot like being at some kind of new-age J-pop concert, and is yet another game that will do wonders for the HDTV owners (read: again, not me).
Thereís even a special mode which lets you use basic synths to mix your own music for a sort of personalized skin. Itís not great in terms of customization, but itís appreciated all the same. It's also one of the few truly new features, so enjoy it, Lumines fans!
Lumines is one of those games that gives you what you put into it, though it does so at a pretty good exchange rate. As far as the puzzle aspect goes, itís not quite as interesting as Meteos or Mercury. Visually and audially, though, itís pretty damn captivating. Thus speaks Lord Awesome.
Freelance review by Jonathan Stark (January 09, 2009)
Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.
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