As a ‘mature’ reviewer, there are only a handful of titles that I recall my initial hands-on experience with. As a child I remember being too a bit short to adequately reach the five buttons required to play Asteroids at the local grocery store. I enduring, falling in love with the game, despite seeing three-quarters of the screen. I recall seeing Tetris for the first time in the bottom floor of a B. Dalton Software Etc. in San Francisco. I also have a strong remembrance for the first time I played Lumines at the PSP launch. When you play a handful of new games every week, only the best generate a lasting memory; the others typically fall into a cloudy haze somewhere inside the temporal lobe.
The orginal Lumines synergically combined falling block puzzling, fluid techno beats, and a glowing minimalistic interface into an essential title for many PSP owners. After a sequel was created, the game was then ported to the PS2, 360, and cellphones. Until now, PS3 owners that lacked backward compatibility have had to look toward other platforms to play the vibrant puzzler. Fortunately, that has changed with the addition of Lumines Supernova to the Playstation Store.
Supernova’s main game is played on a sixteen by ten grid and unlike many complex puzzlers, uses only two colors for playing pieces. Two by two squares are routinely dropped from the top center of the screen, and slowly descend toward the bottom of the screen. To remove blocks from the ever-increasing clutter, the player must form a two by two block of a single color. Once these squares are formed, ‘additions’ to this cluster may be quickly added before a sweeping metronome eliminates the blocks from the playfield. The player has the ability to move the blocks horizontally as well as rotate the cubes either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
Variation to this formula is added via the use of skins- variations in music, tempo, square texture and sound effects. When individual squares have no texture the game is thankfully uncomplicated; however a slight change in texture and color adds an interesting complexity to the formula. Beyond the main mode, Supernova has one to ten minute time attacks, fifty missions, and 100 puzzles. As players progress through the basic and advanced challenges, they unlock skins that can be used in free play mode, where the gamer can construct their own Lumines playlist. In all, the game offers a wealth of content that should keep most players busy for at least 10-12 hours.
Supernova’s two new gameplay modes, Sequencer and Dig Down are quite compelling. Sequencer forgoes the puzzling and allows the player to construct their own songs out of a hundred different samples. After wasting a few hours with this toolset, we longed for a fully-realized package from Q Entertainment. Whereas the main game starts with an empty screen, Dig Down forces players to clear a set of increasingly crammed playfields. Initially easy, the mode soon offers a healthy challenge to players. Those easily frustrated may want to sidestep this variation completely.
The game’s main fault in the lack of any multiplayer options. Lumines 2 for the PSP offered a captivating duel mode that could have easily been implemented across the Playstation Network. Although many of Supernova’s songs were enjoyable, nothing in this outing matched the sheer bliss found in Heavenly Star. Still, at 669 megabytes, the title shouldn’t overburden most PS3 harddrives.
Overall, Lumines Supernova offers a wealth of content for the player who hasn’t experienced the game’s charms. The uninitiated will likely be memorized by the title, and captivated by its intriguing variations. However, Lumines veterans may be slightly disappointed that Supernova doesn’t offer any innovation, merely refinement to an already exceptional game.
Lumines Supernova is currently available on the Playstation Network for $14.99. Currently, Sony is offering a holiday pack that offers twenty additional skins at no additional charge.