Lumines: Electronic Symphony Review

Lumines: Electronic Symphony (Available exclusively on PlayStation Vita)
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Q Entertainment
Release Date: February 14, 2012

Parent Talk: Electronic Symphony is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB. There’s no disclaimer, but this is a puzzle game after all. Was Tetris any different?

Plays Like: Every other Lumines games, and most other falling block puzzlers.

Review Basis: Played way more than necessary, but I wanted to be thorough. Truth is I couldn’t stop playing.

When the PSP launched in early 2005, Lumines was its first must-have title; a simple puzzle game sporting an incredible soundtrack and unique gameplay.  Over the years Q Entertainment has expanded the series into a full-blown franchise, though with mixed results.  Now at the launch of the PS Vita, and Q has done it again.  Electronic Symphony is one of the best games available for the start of Sony’s new portable.

The Great:

You’re connected to everybody. The moment you turn the game on, it’s connected to the PlayStation Network and compares friends’ scores with yours.  This makes playing very competitive. As your friends creep on your score(s), you’ll be motivated to stay on top.

The Good:

+ Addictive gameplay.  Two-tone blocks fall from the top of the screen, and you must link as many like-colored blocks before the clear-line/timeline (moving from left to right) hits the linked blocks.

+ RPG elements. Experience is earned by most accomplishments in the game. Leveling up unlocks new skins, which are essentially backdrops and new music, but you also gain access to new avatars.

+ Avatars now grant powers. They’re no longer just little pictures. One can decrease the clear-line speed; another slows down the rate of block fall…or my personal favorite, the ability to force the next block to contain a chain block.

+ Strategy is key. Not only must you be smart about block placement; you have to choose wisely when to tap the avatar button, which must be at 100%, and it fills slowly. You can hasten it a little by tapping, but clever use of your avatar will mean a big score, or instant death.

 + Shuffle and chain blocks.  Shuffle blocks are new; they change the color of all blocks they touch. This can be a real lifesaver.  The chain block furthermore eliminates all like-colored blocks touching each other.

+ Variety.  You have Voyage mode, basically a marathon, but Q has also included an ad-hock Dual mode, time trials and a master mode. The latter pits you in predetermined scenarios with specific objectives. It’s all excellent.

+ What you see and hear. The music is outstanding.  Featuring everyone from the Chemical Brothers to Wolfgang Gartner.  You can even unlock new songs and create custom playlists.  Coupled with the incredible light show that complement stages, and you have a super-looking and sounding game.

The So-So:

+/- Puzzle mode is missing. I personally couldn’t care less, but am sure some out there loved trying to make pictures with the falling blocks.

+/- Some won’t have a problem with the lack of online multiplayer either, but others will.

The Bad:

– Load times. They could be shorter. The initial boot time is occasionally annoying. Others are manageable, but this is confusing since it’s a cartridge game.

– Pricing and trophy support. Electronic Symphony features PSN digital download-only trophies (i.e. no platinum trophy), but sells at full retail price.

The Ugly:

Thinking you’re an amazing player…glancing at the leaderboards, then realizing you completely suck.

 

The Lowdown:

The price may be a little steep for what appears to be a digital-only release in design, but its killer music, wonderful gameplay and incredible connectivity make this one of Vita’s best. I can’t stress enough; if you buy a Vita and enjoy puzzle games, Electronic Symphony is a must. You won’t regret it.

Average Score Scale: 8.5 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 9/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You love puzzle games, and want something deep and extremely addicting.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: You want online multiplayer, and don’t like load times. Price may also be a factor. 

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