Lumines PSP Review

Why are we as a species so easily amused? Here's a game that involves nothing but putting dual-colored blocks in groups of four and we're entertained. You could almost see yourself doing something similar at work. Then again, it's not exactly important to get theological about it. "Lumines" is just one of the best launch titles for the PSP, either just behind or equal with "Ridge Racer."

That description above really is all you need to do. As you move blocks along the playfield (one that uses the entire widescreen display), you connect blocks of the same color. There are only two colors, never any more. The only additional challenge comes from the speed at which the blocks of four fall. Of course, it's not that simple; it never is.

Combo strings are the key to racking up insane scores Your real skills and reaction times are tested as you struggle to drop blocks fast enough to beat out the little ship scrolling at the top of the screen (which clears out completed sections). At times, it seems like that rocket never moves fast enough as the screen fills up and pressure mounts.

You can tackle a variety of play modes, though they are standard for the puzzle genre. The basic game will let you play forever, unlocking new background skins as you go. Puzzle mode is brutal, requiring players to clear a screen in as few a moves as possible. Time attack can be set to a plethora of different ranges, from a meager 60 seconds all the way up to 10 minutes. Finally, is the multi-player (or single player) versus mode. As combos are made, the losing players screen is scrunched down until they have no more room to maneuver.

There's really almost nothing to complain about. All of this offers up a nice variation on the standard gameplay and unlocking everything the game has to offer is going to take a while. The controls are precise and responsive. The only thing really holding it back from absolute perfection is the simplicity of it all. It's just too simple. There's only one type of special block (that destroys all linked blocks of the same color when part of a completed section), and you almost wish there was something else in here to break things up occasionally. You could also say that "Tetris" doesn't even have anything special about it, but the gameplay in that classic is a little deeper with a little more thought process involved.

You wouldn't imagine there's much to look at here, and, well, you're wrong. The backgrounds skins are wild, imaginative, and full of life. That makes you want to keep besting your scores to unlock more. It seems that each one is more spectacular than the last. Lights, rotations, and some outstanding effects are present and accounted for. The blocks even change to match the scheme, though a few can be a little hard to distinguish.

The audio experience is just as wild, with some outstanding music that pulls you into the game. There's a solid variety to be had to satisfy everyone. It would be nice if you could use your own music saved to your memory stick (a feature sorely needed not just on this one game), but if there's not at least one song here that falls in with your taste, you really need to expand your horizons a bit. There's not much in the way of sound effects, and the music really drowns everything out.

There's almost no way for "Lumines" not to grab you. It's the best puzzle game released since "Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo." Actually, it's better than the Capcom classic since it offers up a better single player experience while including excellent multi-player features. It's even better since it's portable. The game and console seem to be made for each other.

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