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Lumines Plus (PlayStation 2) artwork

Lumines Plus (PlayStation 2) review

"For those who wonder, the ‘Plus’ in Lumines Plus refers to… nothing I can discern. Mostly, the game plays like the original, right down to the familiar skins and music and puzzles. There must be differences, but they’re nothing immediately noteworthy, not unless you play Lumines so regularly that you have time for little else."

I can think of two situations where you might wish to purchase Lumines Plus. The first is the obvious one: you don’t own it already on the PSP—which, given the game’s popularity and place at the front of the pack, would suggest that you don’t have Sony’s handheld—and have no plans to purchase it. The second possibility is that you’ve either never played Lumines in any of its forms or you want to enjoy it on your television set. Whether the first case applies to you or the second, your money is well spent. It might not be the most impressive in the franchise, but Lumines Plus is worth every one of the twenty dollars it’ll cost you to take it home.

Twenty dollars. It’s more expensive to take your date to the movies. The difference here is that you don’t have to put up with long lines, stale popcorn and the cookie dough bites that have secretly been in stock for three years because no one but you ever buys them. All things considered, $20 is fine. It gets you one of the greatest puzzle games in the history of the genre and you no longer have to worry about the PSP’s battery expiring. You can kick back on your couch and play like a maniac as long as you like.

For those who wonder, the ‘Plus’ in Lumines Plus refers to… nothing I can discern. Mostly, the game plays like the original, right down to the familiar skins and music and puzzles. There must be differences, but they’re nothing immediately noteworthy, not unless you play Lumines so regularly that you have time for little else. This was a quick and dirty port of a simple game and it works because Lumines at its heart is all about said simplicity.

Picture a rectangle. Square blocks drop in from the top, divided into four sections. These sections are typically comprised of two separate colors. Let’s say you have three orange and one white. Now, your job is to position them so that as blocks fill the arena, they’ll disappear. That only happens when you shape four blocks in a square, and it only happens as a mysterious bar glides across the rectangular arena. The trick is of course to arrange things so that more than just four chunks vanish, so that you can watch your score skyrocket by way of great combos.

That’s Lumines in a nutshell. The only other element the developer added was the musical one. Most people who have played the game for a long while have eventually found themselves embarking on an addictive enterprise: skin collection. In Lumines, as elsewhere, a ‘skin’ refers to a visual color scheme. When you progress through levels, you’ll encounter new ones. The further you get the more you unlock, encouragement to keep working on your game until suddenly you can breeze through the early stages and keep spinning blocks while score and skin collection grow more impressive by the minute.

With that function in place, it would’ve been nice to see some early skins differ from the norm, but Lumines Plus feels no more varied than its predecessors (and even less so, if compared to Lumines II). That’s difficult to take from the most recent series installment, and you’ll be incensed for all of three seconds. Then you’ll play Lumines Plus again and you’ll remember why you play in the first place. Or, if you’re new to the games, you won’t mind at all. After all, Lumines became one of the most popular puzzle games in recent memory not because of the number of skins, but because it’s good at what it does. Dropping those blocks in that odd little rectangle is every bit as much fun when you do it the fiftieth time as it is when you clear your first set.

If you tire of that, though, there’s also the puzzle mode. There, you’re asked to form shapes out of the blocks. As an example, you might be asked to form the letter ‘G’ out of orange blocks. The catch is that you can’t have any orange blocks touching except those that form the desired image. As the designs grow increasingly complex, you’ll find that they test your intellect more and more (though in the end the enterprise is simple if you think about what pieces can be arranged to form the image). Not only that, but there are a lot of them. The puzzle mode alone—though certainly not a new feature—will keep you busy for several hours if you take to it, even without factoring in the main attraction.

Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to. The $20 price tag is ridiculously easy to accept. If you like puzzle games much at all and you haven’t tired of the whole “blocks drop from the sky and you make them disappear” concept, then Lumines is and always will be one of the finest of its type. The music and skins and puzzle mode only add to what was already an awesome experience. Lumines Plus may add next to nothing to the mix other than the opportunity to play the game on your television, but it is what it is and that’s enough to justify the purchase for puzzle aficionados. Buy it. You’ll like it.

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Staff review by Jason Venter (March 21, 2007)

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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