Lumines Plus

Still Shinin' Shinin' Shinin'...

Who cares if it's a couple years old? Lumines Plus' gameplay is still as addictive as ever -- especially if you haven't played the game yet.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: April 14, 2007
If you haven't played Lumines in some form yet, color me at least a little surprised. Granted, it's probably because most of our audience has at least some kind of crossover to other consoles -- if not with the Xbox 360 and the admitted rape pricing scheme of Lumines Live then at least the original PSP game or its more recent sequel -- but I'm willing to admit that not everyone has jumped into portable PlayStation or 360 gaming yet.


And that's likely precisely why Buena Vista Games and Q Entertainment decided to push Lumines Plus to the 100+ million PlayStation 2 owners. More than a few of you out there may not even know about the game, so for the sake of a complete review (and one that doesn't just copy/paste the original game's review, no matter how tempting that might be), we'll try to sum things up... by copying and pasting some of the original review text. Hey, we're lazy.

Comparisons to Tetris have been rightly made already, and Lumines certainly belongs in that club where you'll notice yourself playing imaginary games in your head. Also like Tetris, it is an incredibly simple concept: blocks with differently colored quarters fall from the top of the screen to the bottom, and linking up any four adjacent quarters of a particular color clears them - but not until a line that sweeps from left to right in time with the background music actually moves all the way across the screen.

Simple, no? Ah, but grasping the nuances and then learning how to combo things and build up huge screen-clearing runs is where the addiction really sets in, and even years later, the original hook and way that it sneaks around your grey matter, using stray thoughts to strategize future games is just as prevalent. As the title would suggest Plus is sort of a mix between most of the original content from the first Lumines, plus some of the skins (read: songs) from the second game. Think of it like Lumines 1.5, but without some of the more advanced features of the second game like stringing together your own set list of skins.

Still, even without being able to craft your own soundtrack (and it is a shame, admittedly), you're still getting the VS. CPU Mode, Challenge and Puzzle Modes that have you trying to build shapes or solve things in a set amount of time and Time Trial versions, more than enough to justify the $20 purchase price unless you've absolutely exhausted any last bits of love for the game on the PSP. Given how damn good most of these songs are, that's going to be something of a stretch.

What isn't a stretch is to say that this is technically a quick and dirty port. Yes, some time was spent in making it fit on the PS2, but as a sort of "Best Of" collection, it falls flat in that not all of the tracks from the two PSP releases are here (though you will find some from the 360 version). Visually the game is pleasant to look at, but since it's neither in HD nor has some of the creamy smoothness of the PSP version (though admittedly that may just have been from the PSP screen's low refresh rate and ghosting effect). The game does feel a little choppy, but at least the videos in the background are a little more clear and obvious than they were when buried behind the widescreen playing field of the other versions.

In further proof of the fact that this is sort of a quick cash-in effort, the audio can swing fairly widely from what sounds like proper, clean Dolby Pro-Logic-friendly tracks with some nice back channel action to tracks that almost sound like they were ripped right from the UMD. Granted, the PSP version of the game sounded great with headphones, but there is a noticeable discrepancy between some skins -- and worse it takes a couple of seconds to transition between skins, more evidence that the game is a clunky sort of port.

So then this isn't any kind of "definitive" version of the game, though it could have been from a pure track list standpoint. Luckily, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and the Q Entertainment crew already had a solid, addictive concept in place before some of the better musical tracks transformed it into something even better. Despite some slight technical hitches, the PS2 version of the game is a dirt cheap way to get sucked into the series... and opens the door to picking up the better versions on the PSP.
The Verdict
8.0

A mostly blah port, Lumines Plus survives almost exclusively on the merits of it's rock solid gameplay. The visuals and audio could have been better, as could the track list, but what's here is certainly worth the $20 asking price.

7.5Graphics:

What was smooth and glidey on the PSP and mostly hi-res on the 360 is chunky and unoptimized on the PS2. It's not ugly exactly, but it doesn't look anywhere near as sexy as it could.

8.0Sound:

While most of the music is fantastic stuff, the audio quality leaves a lot to be desired. You likely won't hear it all that much coming out of a TV, but if your PS2 is hooked up to a receiver with some decent speakers, it can disappoint.

9.5Control:

For a game that more or less exclusively uses the d-pad, you couldn't ask for a better setup than the separated directions of the DualShock 2's digital controls. In short, it plays beautifully.

8.5Gameplay:

If you've never played the games before, the handful of different modes and near-eternal challenge of the main game will keep you hooked for hours. And even if you have been sucked in before, the gameplay still has hooks.