Lumines II

Admit it. You were worried when Bueua Vista Games (i.e. Disney) announced that they were going to be publishing the sequel to sublime puzzler Lumines. And you were probably even more worried when you heard that they were going to be including a licensed soundtrack featuring the likes of Gwen Stefani, Beck, The Black Eyed Peas and Missy Elliot. You can relax: it’s the same old Lumines through and through, and on most settings the licensed stuff doesn’t appear until a few skins in. Looks like we’ll have to wait until Meteos: Disney Edition for our Donald Duck avatars, then.

luminesbody.jpgAnd we really do mean that this is the same old Lumines – the formula hasn’t been fiddled with one bit. There aren’t even any new block formations or power-ups, which is probably a blessing of sorts; Tetris went pear-shaped once pointless complications were added. Instead, Q Entertainment have spruced up the presentation, tidied up the visuals, and chucked in a few new modes and challenges. Your score is no longer capped at 999,999, and there’s a bonus playable demo of Every Extra Extended.

Newcomers are well looked after, with a comprehensive tutorial and a beginners mode. Experienced players might even learn something from the tutorial – it shows you the best ways to line up block formations and everything.

For the uninformed, the idea of Lumines is to match up four blocks of the same colour in either squares or rectangles. Once a line that sweeps from left to right touches them they disappear; if the blocks reach the top of the screen then it’s game over. The horizontal layout suits the PSP perfectly – it was only recently when we played Lumines Live on Xbox 360 that this became apparent. Lumines on anything other than PSP just looks wrong.

The new FMV music video backdrops are fairly low-res and do distract at times, but if they assist in attracting new players to the good ship Lumines then we can look past their shortcomings. We like the fact that the sound effects change to suit the licensed music – Pump It by The Black Eyed Peas is set in a car park, and thus the noises when blocks are placed and moved around include tooting horns and screeching tyres.

Staying with the music theme for a moment, on the options menu you’ll find a very rudimentary music mixer. There are four tracks to choose from and over a hundred tempos which can be adjusted and played with. Playlists can also be transferred to a friend’s PSP and vice versa. We don’t know why you’d ever want to do so, but the option’s there if you do.

If you’re already a member of the Lumines fan club, and you’re after more of the same, then this’ll suit you nicely. We’ve already said that newcomers are made welcome, which only leaves those looking for something new. They’re really the only people who are going to be disappointed, but as the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – just upgrade it and charge extra.