When Lumines came out on the PSP, it was an immediate and addictive hit. Though simple in concept, the game was fun and appealing to many, and the visual and audio style was a pleasant experience. For those who didn't own a PSP though, it was a long wait. Now, however, those who own PS2s can finally experience what this unique puzzle game has to offer. And while it's still unique, that's not saying it's new.
To start from the beginning; in the flashy world of Lumines, you rotate 2-by-2 blocks, composed of bricks of two different colours, in a tetris-like environment. Your goal is to make squares consisting of equal colours. Addictive, energy-filled music and pulsing, animated backgrounds can put gamers in quite the trance-like state as they match squares up on the board. There are different modes of play, though they mostly use the same mechanics.
In the single player mode, you can either play through a Challenge mode, which will unlock more backgrounds (or 'skins', as they are called) to view, or you can play through Single Skin mode, which is exactly what it sounds like, playing through one skin (song) repeatedly to get the highest score. There are also a few timed games that will allow you to hone your skills against a timer, trying to rack up as many points as you can before your seconds run out. There's also a puzzle mode, which is intriguing, but without a tutorial, confusing at first. In this, you try to make various shapes on the board composed of the same colour of blocks. It starts out simple, but as the challenges get higher, you'll find yourself scratching your head and wondering how it's possible.
There's also a multiplayer mode, against either a computer or another player, in which you play on a single board with a line dividing your two playing fields. As you start making more and more squares and combos, the line will shift away from you (or towards you, if your opponent is doing even better), narrowing the playing field and making it easier to fail.
The gameplay sounds simple, and in a way, it is, but its addictive style made it one of the best titles to purchase for the PSP system at the time. The flashing backgrounds combined with music and sound effects particular to each skin made playing a different experience.
Now the Playstation 2 version has been released, Lumines Plus, but the name is a bit misleading. In fact, this version of Lumines contains a little less than the version released on the handheld console, which is a bit of a puzzler (no pun intended). It probably won't be noticeable to newcomers to the series - and, in fact, is worth a buy for those who do not own a PSP or Xbox 360 - but there are things like a few musical tracks and skins missing from this title that were present on the previous version. The lack of a widescreen presentation, like on the PSP (and Xbox 360), also hinders the experience somewhat, but only on the visual level.
Lumines was a really gripping puzzle game on the PSP, and it hasn't changed on its trip to the PS2. That's largely the problem. With a sequel already released on the portable console with a bevy of new features, it's a shame that Lumines Plus couldn't have lived up to its name and actually included something new beyond an additional skin or two. In the end, it's a really good experience for those that have yet to be introduced to the title, but for the rest, there are better versions out there.