I’m a Lumines fanboy from back in the days of the PSP. Lumines was my most played PSP game. I had racked up over 30 hours of play time before moving on to the PS3 and Vita versions. I was sceptical heading into the new mobile incarnation Lumines: Puzzle & Music because of the negative buzz surrounding Lumines: Touch Fusion, the old iOS game pulled from the app store years ago because of its poor controls. Well after many hours of seizure-inducing lights and electro beats I can safely say that Lumines: Puzzle & Music is good. Although it gets across the line by sacrificing some of the intense difficulty and doesn’t feature much content for its price tag.
Let’s address the controls. Yes they 100% work. Blocks move by swiping the screen left or right and tapping to rotate them clockwise. If you prefer counter-clockwise rotation, there’s an option for that in the menu. Movement is smooth and responsive. I never found my finger getting in the way of the puzzle nor did I ever make mistakes because of the controls. I believe the controls are successful because the game is slower than the previous version of Lumines. This is not a criticism simply an observation. The game is still challenging and if slower moving pieces are what it takes for Lumines to work on a touch screen, so be it.
Now let’s take a step back. If you are unfamiliar, Lumines is a puzzle game in the vein of Tetris where blocks fall from the top of the screen. They drop in a 4×4 pattern featuring a mix of two colours. Your job is to rotate the blocks and match the colours to what’s already fallen to the ground. Then the ‘timelines’ sweeps across the screen, removing your matches. What separates Lumines from every other block puzzle game is the music. The block’s and timeline’s speed synchronises to the beat with each song, or ‘skin’. With each skin, the colours and sound effects change too. You are dropping blocks to what is mostly Japanese pop-synth.
There are 18 skins and multiple avatars to unlock across two different albums. Puzzle & Music contains new skins for this version, while the Classic album features content from the PSP game. Each album includes three different difficulty settings plus an endless mode. Unlocking each mode requires you to clear the mode before them. Each mode requires you to survive all of the skins it throws at you, usually five or six. Each skin is added to your collection to replay in Single Skin mode. The soundtrack is great, although it’s missing some of the big names from previous versions such as Beck, The Go Team and The Chemical Brothers.
Where Lumines: Puzzle & Music stumbles, is its lack of content for its moderately high price tag. With a price of $4.49 AU, one would expect a decent amount of content, although this version is lacking in the number of skins compared to others and is completely missing puzzle and time attack modes. There is space on the main menu for new content, so I assume it will be added later as in-app purchases.
This is not the first Lumines to be criticised for in-game purchases. I can recall the Xbox 360 version missing the extra modes which were available on day one as paid DLC. I wouldn’t consider this an issue except many other Lumines games have included these modes and more skins variety as part of the base game. I currently have free to play games on my phone that feature more content, so the lack of variety is disappointing.
Overall, Lumines: Puzzle & Music is a solid mobile port of an excellent puzzle game. Many mobile gamers will likely never experience it because of the price. Those Lumines fans out there that have spent almost $5 may be a little ticked off with the lack of content. Mobcast need to be careful moving ahead with the franchise if they wish for the mobile future of Lumines to be a success.
Lumines Puzzle & Music is available now on iOS and Google Play.
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and co-editor of PN2. He’s on Twitter @DrVane