The age old idiom “If its not broke, don’t fix it” is known to be especially true of puzzle games. I mean feel free to add things, move stuff around a bit – hell, even throw in some new power ups… but if the core game-play is solid then leave it the hell alone! Lumines: Electronic Symphony for the PS Vita is a great example of this; elevation without innovation. It doesn’t add a slew of new design or features, but what it does add, streamlines an already great experience.
Lumines is a musical puzzle game, where groups of coloured blocks drop into the game area from the top of the screen in grids of 4(2×2 to be precise). The player must join four or more bricks of the same colour before the end of any given “turn”. On each “turn”, the rhythm bar (which is kind of like a metronome) passes from left to right and destroys any groupings of four or more, giving the player a score based on how many blocks were joined during that “turn”. It’s a simple concept but its the mixture of visual and aural fidelity, alongside the solid mechanics that have made Lumines such a runaway success.
I missed out on Lumines in it’s debut appearance, despite buying my PSP day one, I more than likely picked up some muck like “Dynasty Warriors 2 PSP” . My assumption now is that I saw it on the shelf and presumed it would be a by the numbers Tetris clone, full of repetitive Techno music. Its worth noting at this point in the review that I am not a huge fan of Electronic music; for some devotees of Lumines, this game without the music is like Gran Turismo without cars! When I finally played the game (this was the Xbox Live Arcade Version) I was very impressed with the game design and remember convincing one of my flat mates to buy the game, just so I could play it.
Flash forward to Lumines: Electronic Symphony.
The Vita had an unusual launch. The actual day of launch lineup was fantastic, containing titles like Uncharted, Wipeout and Fifa. Since the console’s release however, there has been a severe lack of new content. It was in this gap that I found myself picking up Rayman Origins; A game I had already played quite a lot on the PS3. I was skeptical that the Vita would be able to accurately showcase the incredible hand drawn visuals and jaw dropping audio found in the high def console version’s of the game. I was, to put it bluntly, proven wrong…
For the uninitiated, Rayman Origins is a 2D side-scrolling platformer developed by Ubisoft and serves as a sequel of sorts (despite the games title) to the popular Rayman franchise. Rayman Origins uses a new graphics framework called Ubi-Art to provide incredibly beautiful characters and environments; these are animated to perfection and do well to serve as a showcase for the power of Ubi-Art. The gameplay is pretty straight forward and sees the player progressing from right to left (or left to right) through levels, taking on enemies, collecting lums and doing the usual platformer fare. It’s the sheer level of polish and masterful game design that has Rayman Origins stand out from the crowd.