|System: PS3 (PSN)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Q Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Q Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 23, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
Just when you thought that the puzzle genre had been completely exhausted and was on its way to the trash, along comes Lumines. The series, which debuted in 2005, did what many doubted could be done: created a unique, innovative concept for a puzzle game and followed up with excellent execution. The result? A solid, addictive puzzler that can please even the most obsessive Tetris aficionado. Now the series comes to the PS3 in the form of Lumines Supernova, and it's as good as ever.
The premise behind Lumines is comfortingly similar, featuring the overused falling blocks formula, but at the same time refreshingly unique. Large blocks drop from the sky, and these blocks are in turn made up of four smaller blocks. There are two different colors that make up these large blocks - black and white, for example. Your goal is to use the multicolored four-by-four blocks to create four-by-four blocks that are the same color.
It may sound confusing at first, but part of the magic of Lumines is how wonderfully simple it all is. Rotating blocks to match up colors is really fun and addictive. Another important mechanic is the fact that blocks won't simply disappear once you've created a larger single-colored block. Instead, the "block eraser," for lack of a better word, is constantly moving across the screen. When it passes over a group of single-colored blocks, it will make them all disappear. This wiper becomes faster and faster as the game progresses, so there's sometimes a sense of urgency to add onto a huge structure before it's wiped out.
The mechanic behind Lumines Supernova is great, but there are two other components to the game that add a lot of polish to the package. The first is the wide array of "skins," which are really just templates for each game. This might appear mundane and unimportant, but so many puzzle games bank their success on your willingness to play the same game over and over again. The different skins really give each game a new feeling, not to mention the fact that they're also really cool and creative (take the LittleBigPlanet skin, for example).
It's difficult to discuss the skins in Lumines without also mentioning the huge role that music plays in the game. To begin with, the music itself is quite good; it's all very catchy and interesting without being distracting or grating. But then you realize that the music is directly influenced by every action you take. For example, dropping a block or rotating it discreetly changes or adds to the music. This is a very different take on "player interaction" and it's one that I appreciate. While Lumines Supernova is predominantly a traditional puzzler, there's also a rhythm-game-undertone that adds a lot to the game experience.
Apart from the interesting skins and interactive musical themes, Lumines Supernova sports a wide variety of modes. Naturally, it's got the basic Challenge mode which allows you to play through the basic game, but there's also Mission Mode, Puzzle Mode, and a surprisingly innovative "mini-game" Dig Down. Mission Mode gives you set requirements for getting rid of certain numbers of blocks within a time limit, etc.