It’s a rare event that the sequel to a fan favorite bests the original. There are some recent examples where this has happened, but more often then not you’ll usually end up with just more of the same or even worse, an upsetting bastardization of the original product. When I heard that Q Entertainment was working on a sequel to Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s brilliant PSP launch title Lumines, I have to admit that I was a little bit worried. Having put in somewhere north of 100 hours on the original, I did not want a new version coming in and ruining the title that I love. When I saw what happened with the Xbox Live version, I was even more concerned. In the end, however, it turns out that my worries were all for nothing. Lumines II is a worthy sequel to the awesome original title.
If you weren’t around for the launch of the PSP, or didn’t pay much attention to what it was I’ll give you a basic overview. Lumines is a puzzle game with a simple play mechanic. Basically you drop blocks to try and make coloured matches. Each block you drop is divided into 4 smaller blocks that can be one of two colours depending on the level or skin that you are on. When four of more of these sub blocks form a square or rectangle, they get tagged for removal. The whole game is set to the tune of a particular music track and there is a sweep bar that runs left to right removing any of the blocks that have been tagged. Basically that’s all there is to Lumines; it’s simple, but incredibly addictive.
Well enough on what Lumines is, lets talk about what Q entertainment has added to the original. Not wanting to just put out more of the same, Q Ent. has really upped the ante for this title. You can play through the modes present in the original, those being challenge mode, puzzle mode, time attack mode and Vs. mode, and most of these modes have all received significant upgrades. There are some new modes making an appearance in this title but the only major one is the Mission mode, but everything down to the interface has received some sort of polish differentiating it from the original title.
Challenge mode, again, is the main play mode in Lumines II. You goal is to clear as many blocks as possible to generate as high a score as possible, with the stages getting faster and faster as you progress. The core game mechanic remains the same, but Q Ent. has added a difficulty selection to the mix. Also new this time is the addition of video skins. A “skin” refers to the background graphics and music track in each level, it’s a weird name but skins are more important in this version so you should know the term. Lumines II boasts over 80 skins that can be unlocked and played in the single player modes, many of them being full on music video skins. Artists such as Beck, the Black Eyed Peas and Missy Elliot have all given the go ahead to have their music featured in this game. These skins are not all available at the start of the game, so you’ll have to get very good if you want to see them all. This slow ramp up in skill is one of the reasons why this game is so addictive in the first place.
The puzzle mode and VS CPU modes have seen an upgrade as well, but nothing as significant as the challenge mode. Puzzle mode now contains more puzzles, so you can form crosses, giraffes and UFOs to your heart’s content. The VS. CPU mode returns, but it’s a poor substitute for real multiplayer. It seems that the CPU opponents you play against are either way too slow or godly fast. It’s nice to have these modes, but I could take them or leave them really.
The major new mode that was added in Lumines II is the Mission Mode. This is similar to the puzzle mode in the way that you have to complete a specific challenge to beat the level, but it is different enough to be enjoyable. Most of the missions have you dropping one or more blocks in an attempt to clear the board. I actually really enjoyed this mode, and it also has the side benefit of giving you some advanced techniques for your block dropping. Other new modes involve a skin edit mode that allows you to rearrange the order that the skins come in, and an interesting remix mode where you can remix the included sound tracks. The new features provide a few extra things to do, without changing any of the core features from the first game.
One aspect that I was hoping would of seen significant improvement was multiplayer. I was hoping and praying that this title would include online multiplayer, but alas only ad-hoc multiplayer made this version. I mean local multiplayer is fun, but online would add a whole other level to the online experience. Oh well, maybe Lumines III?
All in all I enjoyed my time playing Lumines II. While I wish there were online multiplayer, or that the original game was spiced up a little bit; the sheer number of skins combined with the great soundtrack and enhanced visuals left me feeling very satisfied. I can’t see this title straying too far from my PSP in the near future.
If you enjoyed the original, or were in anyway curious as to what the fuss was about, you need to pick this up right away. Puzzle gaming is perfect for handhelds, and Lumines II is that perfect puzzle title.
The graphics are simple and stylish. The video skins are a little hard to see, and I would of loved a way to watch them outside of teh context of the game.
Great music as always. From the licensed tracks to the newer yet catchy tunes, I enjoyed it all.
Lumines II brings you more of the great puzzle action you crave, with enough extras to warrant the upgrade.
Puzzle games are perfect for on-the-go play. With an addictive main mode and a variety of extra modes, Lumines II will keep you coming back for more.