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September 2, 2005
Lumines - Review
Release Date Distributor Publisher Developer
1/9/2005UbisoftBanDaiQ Entertainment
Save Size Difficulty Players Rating

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Backgrounds pulse to the beat.
We've said it many times before but one of the greatest games on the PS2 during its life time is certain to be Sega's Rez. The creator of that game, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, is back having left United Game Artists to form Q Entertainment and has just released his latest title - this time on the Playstation Portable. While it's not a sequel to Rez it is every bit as impressive, if not more so. Sure, it may look like a Tetris of Columns clone, but ends up being so much more.

Essentially Lumines is a puzzle game where the player must control a series of falling 2 x 2 blocks of up to two differnet colours. These must be arranged at the bottom of the screen in square blocks at least 2 x 2 in size and of the same colour. Sounds easy right? While it starts off fairly slowly and is easy to get to grips with the game speeds up and it only gets harder. While you're playing a "Sequencing Bar" moves accross the screen from left to right and deletes any of the solid blocks which you have created. The larger the area deleted the greater the number of points you will rack up. At times a special block will be dropped which will delete not only your created squares, but also any ajoining blocks of the same colour.

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The brilliant 2-player mode.
For such a simplistic game it is amazingly addictive. In fact this game has exactly the same "one more go" addictiveness probably not seen since the original Tetris - it's that good. Hell, the reason why this review was delayed from launch day was because we were too busy playing the game - that was despite the fact we'd already been playing the game for almost a week!

In terms of game modes Lumines includes a single player Challenge mode which is where you can unlock new skins and music. As you play through this mode the backgrounds (skins) and music changes as you advance to the next level. When these are unlocked you can enter the Single Skin Mode where the game doesn't change appearance as you progress through the levels. It's also possible to enter the Time Attack mode where you can select games of 1, 3, 5 or 10 minutes - perfect if you only have a short amount of time to play the game. The final single player mode is the Puzzle mode which sees you trying to create different shapes from the falling blocks. It's pretty tough and one slip up will see the end of your game, but it's still highly addictive and a welcome mode for sure.

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Is that Ulala?
Lumines also supports 2-player action either through the wireless capabilities, or, if you don't have any mates with PSP's handy, against the CPU. In these modes the width of your area narrows or widens making your task harder or easier depending how well you are performing. When playing 2-player against the CPU its possible to unlock items such as new character designs.

Graphically this game clearly isn't pushing millions of polygons, nor is it loaded with pre-rendered CG movies, but it is still a tour de force. In fact, Lumines is one of the cleanest and nicest looking games on the PSP to date. Never is a frame rate dropped, the backgrounds and blocks all looks wonderful and the menus clean as a whistle.

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An oriental themed level.
The audio in this title isn't just background noise or licensed music as in so many other titles, but rather a blend of orchestra, dance and beats which sets the tone of the game. The music is led by J-pop artist Shinichi Osawa brings light yet funky tracks adding a depth to Lumines. As you can imagne the effects are limited but pretty good and blends in with the music perfectly.

We can't praise Lumines enough but unfortunately most gamers will overlook this title and head for more well known game franchises and common (read: racing) genres. I must plead with everyone, at the very least check this game out in a shop and see if you like it. I would be amazed if you didn't. As I stated in my preview for this game "Tetsuya Mizuguchi is a genius, and this is his next masterpiece." Enough said.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSOK, it's blocks. I guarantee they never looked so good. Nice skins.
SOUNDThe music and effects really are a large part of the game experience.
GAMEPLAYOne of the most addicive and engrossing titles of all time.
VALUENot many game modes, but what's there will have you back - often.
OVERALLLumines is one of the greatest puzzle games of all times. There is absolutely no reason not to own this title, unless you absoltely hate the sport - but even so, it makes a great video game. Virtually an essential purchase.

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