When the original Lumines was released for the PSP, it was a system seller. Its addictive puzzle mechanics combined with pulsing beats and visuals made it an enjoyable puzzle title that one could be lost in for hours. Since then it has been released on a number of systems, including the PS2 and the Xbox Live Arcade. Its latest iteration has arrived on the PlayStation Network, and while it doesn't do much do reinvent the game, it adds another game mode and a number of new skins that might make the ear of a fan perk up.
Lumines is one of those games that are simple in concept, but complex in execution. Basically, a group of four two-toned blocks fall from the sky, and it's your job to stack them. If you make a square of the same color, they disappear when a constantly-scrolling line crosses it on the playfield. You can make larger combos by making squares across the board to increase your score even more. Though there are some simple strategies to use, the challenge comes from using the right strategy at the right time given the right block. It sounds simple, but as you play, and things get faster and more built up, things get complicated very quickly.
If you've played Lumines before, you know exactly what to expect here. That's not technically a bad thing; there's a lot of content in Supernova. First, the standard mode that defines the game comes in two flavours, basic and advanced. Then you can also work on clearing as many blocks as possible in a timed mode that lets you choose the time you're given. There's also a mission mode where you need to complete a specific task (clear the board, clear x number of rows, and so forth), and there's also a puzzle mode where you need to make specific shapes out of a single color.
New to Supernova, however, is the Dig Mode, in which you're given a board that's already filled with a few rows of blocks. Your job is to clear two columns of blocks right down to the bottom. Sounds easy, but as you complete one level, you're given another filled with blocks, this one even higher. Then another. It's a marathon of levels to see how many you can clear before succumbing to the ever-growing pile.
Another new aspect to Lumines is the ability to make your own music. Combining twenty versions of four different instruments together, you can make whatever tune you like, saving it and playing it in the game. It's not much, but it's fun to play around with, and you can get a surprising amount of variety from the different synthesizer instruments.
What it comes down to, in Supernova, is whether or no the extra content is worth the purchase of fifteen dollars. To those that have never played the game before, it's definitely worth the purchase, quite simply. However, it's harder to justify the buy to those who've already played any of the previous Lumines iterations. There's a whole lot of content in the game, including some new, unique skins (I was pleasantly surprised to find a LittleBigPlanet skin in the game), but it's still a hard purchase.
Still, in the end, Lumines is a great game to play. The basic gameplay is solid and addictive, and the skins are mesmerizing in both sound and visuals, blending with the gameplay to create a hypnotic experience. If you like the series, well then this is definitely the best of the bunch, and worth the purchase. If you're new to Lumines, well, it's certainly worth the purchase. And if you're jaded with the series…well, perhaps it's not worth it at fifteen bucks. But that doesn't mean it's still not a great game to play.