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PSP  header logo

Lumines II

For: PSP

Tetris meets Connect 4 while Gwen Stefani and the Go! Team mix background beats

Product: Lumines II | Developer: Q Entertainment | Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios | Format: PSP | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), sharing one cartridge | Version: Europe
Lumines II PSP, thumbnail 1
In the same way that anyone who owns, say, a Lamborghini Gallardo, is likely to only ever insert the nozzle of a pump dispensing Shell Optimax into the car's petrol tank, anyone who owns a PSP would ideally only ever choose to feed their handheld UMDs of the quality of Lumines.

If you're not already familiar with Q Entertainment's first PSP release, you should be, because the puzzler is still arguably the best game available for Sony's portable console.

Well, it was. Because the best game available for Sony's portable console is now Lumines II. The sequel has been granted a celebrity-style makeover, with a load of licensed music and about a million new modes, making it just plain brilliant.

Nothing's really changed to the core mechanics of the game since the release of the original. Blocks still fall from the top of the screen, Tetris-style, except all the blocks are 2x2 squares, which isn't Tetris-style, and they're made up of two colours, which also isn't Tetris-style. Finally, the blocks can be rotated. In the style of a certain famous puzzle game. Called Tetris.

The idea is still to group as many four squares of the same colour into 2x2 blocks as you can, so that when a vertical Time Line sweeps across the screen they'll disappear, which in itself can create further same-coloured blocks, ready for the next sweep, as the whole block layout rearranges itself.

You do that for as long as possible, in order to rack up as many points as possible, and to unlock as many 'skins' as possible.

Each new skin is accompanied by a different music track, and features a completely different visual style, ranging from static blocks of colour to fizzing animated blocks against psychedelic backgrounds. More importantly, the blocks and Time Line fall and sweep at different speeds in different skins, making some easier or harder than others.

What's changed is that there are now more modes, more skins, more music, and more support for beginners.

The biggest departure is that whereas the original game included tracks by a range of lesser-known artists and DJs, Lumines II punctuates these with the work (and music videos) of a panoply of big-name music stars, including Gwen Stefani, Beck, the Go! Team, The Chemical Brothers, and Black Eyed Peas.

The other major difference is that the game features the aforementioned extended range of play options, though it still includes all of the original modes, and expands Challenge mode to include three levels of difficulty (by reducing the vertical height of the playing area to make the game trickier).

The new additions include Tutorials and Tips sections, and a Mission mode, all of which make the game's idiosyncratic logic much easier to grasp. There's also now a Skin Edit option, which enables you to select any of the skins you've unlocked and play them in whatever sequence you wish. It's even got a Sequencer that works brilliantly, enabling the creation of your own music.

To a certain extent, your enjoyment of Lumines II will depend on your musical tastes and how far they coincide with the track list. It's our opinion that the likes of the Black Eyed Peas and Gwen Stefani don't really work as well as the soundtrack in the first Lumines, for example. But ultimately, zoning out to the hypnotic logic of the sweeping Time Line and falling blocks and trying to stack up combos and adjust to the different tempo of each new skin creates its own inexorable rhythm – so you'll inevitably still find yourself entranced by music you'd normally hate.

Which means the only real major niggles with Lumines II are in effect minor ones. Stuff like not being able to just pause the game and hit 'retry' if you know you've messed up a puzzle or a mission, or the slow transitions between some skins. And the biggest minor niggle of them all – having to play through every single skin each time if you want to unlock new ones, which is partly frustrating because of the unreliability of the PSP's sleep mode.

But other than that, this is scintillatingly brilliant puzzling. Again.
Lumines II
Reviewer photo
Dave McCarthy | 21 November 2006
"Lumines – the game of 2005?" we asked of the prequel. "Lumines II – the game of 2006," we'd say now. And that's a statement, not a question
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