Once upon a time, way back when, I received a Nintendo Gameboy for Christmas. Despite having Super Mario Land, Final Fantasy and other big name games to play with, the game I spent the most time with was the pack-in of Tetris. Hours upon hours of puzzle block goodness were enjoyed by me and a lifelong enjoyment of puzzle games was seeded.
Due to their nature of being able to be consumed in bite-sized chunks, puzzle games are a natural fit on handhelds and other mobile devices. Thus it makes great sense for a quality puzzle game to launch alongside a new handheld platform. Developers, Rocket Studios and Q? Entertainment have done just that with Lumines: Electronic Symphony. The Lumines series has a long history on Sony handhelds and it seems fitting that out of all the games that launched alongside the Playstation Vita, Electronic Symphony feels the most right.
At its base Electronic Symphony is a simple puzzle block game, tasking players with clearing out matching blocks of four by rotating and placing the game cubes in strategic positions. Clearing out blocks is not as easy as just matching up a cube of four of the same color as the game has a few unique wrinkles that make it much more than just a cubed version of Tetris. The most challenging aspect of Lumines: Electronic Symphony is being able to strategically match blocks and chain them together before the clear line wipes them off the board, maximizing the score.
Much like Tetris, being able to think quickly and plan ahead are the greatest assets a player can have but Electronic Symphony gives players some additional weapons to help out via game changing power-ups. From being able to freeze the clear line to being able to change upcoming blocks to more beneficial drops, these power-ups, which can be manually set, can come in very handy when deployed strategically. And the game consistently rewards players for playing, providing unlockables that include these power-ups, via an experience system.
While the block puzzle aspect of the game is the core gameplay conceit, the music of the game plays an equal, if not more important role, as each puzzle skin is designed around its music. The tempo of the game rises and falls with the musical choice of each particular skin. Nothing changed the momentum in the game for me more than when a skin was cleared and the music and aesthetic changed to the next one. I could go from easily clearing out blocks to being overrun in a matter of moments all because the game’s dynamic shifted and vice versa.
This dynamic shifting is most evident in the game’s primary play mode, Voyage. Voyage is a lengthy playlist of perfectly selected tracks with numerous tempo changes and stylized skins that make the game truly shine. Additional to Voyage, Electronic Symphony gives players the ability to create their own playlists allowing for personalized play sessions, making sure the game never gets old. Much like with the power-up unlockables, additional music and skins unlock the more you play the game.
Electronic Symphony might be the best game to launch on the new Vita system. It has a ton of content packed into it and the gameplay mechanics are some of the most fun in any puzzle game but at its core, it is still just a simple puzzle game and that fact makes the asking price for the game a bit steep ($40 USD). However, if you love puzzle games and want something to suck up time on your Vita, there is no question that Lumines: Electronic Symphony should be at the top of your list.
- Fast, fun and challenging gameplay
- Phenomenal soundtrack
- Hours of block puzzle fun to be had
- Asking price is a bit steep
- Can easily suck up your Vita’s battery as you chase the next high score
4 / 5