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Now, I wouldn’t suggest that Lumines is a music-making title, but it is a game where interacting with the audio-field is as much a part of the overall experience as your interaction with the game onscreen. The game’s genius is the way it all meshes together – the soundtrack pulsing in the background, the hypnotic visuals behind the blocks, and the intense, concentrated, demanding gameplay – to form something you just can’t tear yourself away from. Like any puzzle game worth its salt, the lure of the high-score table is enough to keep you going, but Lumines gives you a more concrete reason to continue. You want to open up the next skin, hear the next track, and see what additional wonders Mizuguchi and his team have come up with.
But even that’s not all – Lumines also plays a mean competitive game. Hook up against another PSP overWiFi (or a computer player if you’re on your tod) and the screen splits in two. As you vanish blocks or chain combos, your portion of the screen grows and your opponent’s shrinks – a mechanism that makes for a curiously visceral two-player contest that plays better than anything similar since Capcom’s Super Puzzle Fighter. As the versus mode has its own bizarre skins, it feels less like a bolt-on option, more an integral part of the whole Lumines experience.
My only major concern about this one – and you can appreciate how nitpicky this is – is that the arrangement of skins in the main challenge mode could mean that you soon get bored of the initial sequence and get sick of the first two tracks. To be brutally honest, Lumines is practically begging for a track-shuffle option. Luckily, the game gives you the option of playing on individual skins once you have unlocked them. What’s more, it even features a unique puzzle mode, where the aim changes from clumping blocks together to creating a particular colour formation. In the unlikely event that the main game wears thin, this will still keep you amused for a good few hours.