It works, though, because it's really chuffing hypnotic. Lumines' symbiotic relationship with music means the tracklisting has to work, which is where 2006's scattered Lumines II so completely dropped the ball - the pursuit of big Western artists caused the game to lose the original's perfectly pitched combination of rhythm and pace. Electronic Symphony presents an altogether more considered (and decidedly European) 30-strong selection, and includes headline artists such as The Chemical Brothers, Aphex Twin and The Go! Team. It's a real shame that Q! Entertainment's much-loved Genki Rockets don't make an appearance, though, and that there's no scope to showcase some of the more eclectic Japanese artists in this otherwise excellent curation.
Lumines also manages to provide something so many puzzle games lack: a noticeable sense of progression. Clearing each skin feels like progress, and the side-effect of such a wildly changing player space is that a session of Lumines feels like a journey, albeit one that might progress from Mylo's In My Arms to Wolfgang Gartner's remix of 5th Symphony, and then finishes on Faithless' God is a DJ. But, hey, whatever works for you.
The Vita's detail-rich OLED screen also ensures the game's aesthetics pop and sizzle when in play. In motion the game is a beautiful march of colour and sound, and there's a little thrill in the moment you see each skin for the first time.
It's still the same game as it was half a decade ago, but the all-important focus on aesthetic means that the new sights and sounds helps refresh the formula. Q Entertainment has also attempted a more direct approach at innovation, giving the game's user-selectable avatar its own rechargeable power (such as dropping a chain block) that's accessible after filling a meter by clearing blocks or tapping the back screen. It doesn't really work.
Other additions fare better. A new shuffle block will randomise any cluster of squares it comes into contact with, though it seems to help more than it hinders. There's also a social addition in the form of the World Block, a massive regenerating clump that's whittled down by subtracting the combined cleared blocks of every player in the world within a 24-hour period. You can also gift unlocked avatars via Near, but it's particularly hard to actually care much about that.
So, yes, it's another Lumines. But it's also the most successful crack at the whip since the original game, and for the first time in a long time the soundtrack feels like it's been properly mulled over. While it's clear Q Entertainment perfected the game's formula on their very first try, this iteration of the neon-lit puzzler is so charming and elegantly formed you'd be a fool to say no.
Version Tested: PlayStation Vita
VideoGamer.com Score8 Score out of 10
- Great Soundtrack
- New modes are guff
- Bit easy