Lumines Electronic Symphony PS Vita review

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Sod’s law, eh? You spend millions turning your new handheld into an all-singing, all-dancing touchscreen marvel, and the best launch game on it is… a block puzzler that needs none of the above to be brilliant. But if Vita is to catch on long-term, these portable staples are as essential as the new-fangled Uncharteds and FIFA – so Sony shouldn’t feel in any way disillusioned by how good Lumines: Electronic Symphony is. And Lord, it’s good.

If you’ve never played it, 1) You’re missing out, and 2) It’s insanely simple. Two-tone blocks fall from the top of the screen. By rotating and assembling them into four-block sets (or bigger) of the same colour, you cause them to disappear (and earn points) when a white bar sweeps across the screen every few seconds.

Every couple of minutes the skin changes – along with the music and the speed at which the bar moves (it’s tied to the beat of the song). So: clear blocks, rack up points, nod along to brilliant music. Easy to start with, C-word-inducingly challenging later on. Like Tetris, and Columns, and so many other classic on-the-go puzzlers.

The concept coupled with the ace choonage totally immerses you – the PSP original cured my fear of flying because I’d get so lost in it while playing on planes. And the music and skins here are even better.

Highlights from the 43 themes include a level of flashing blue and red gems accompanied by Hey Boy Hey Girl, and Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker soundtracking a mellow stage of pink and white blocks. It’s like going to the coolest party in town, still being allowed to show off your nerd side and having all the hot girls fawn over you. Promise I’m not lying. Other than the ‘hot girls’ part.

And while using the touchscreen isn’t necessary to love Lumines, it is used smartly: tapping your avatar activates occasional special powers such as the ability to stall the timeline bar. Even without that element, this would still be a work of foot-tapping, block-clearing genius. If you own Sony’s handheld but haven’t bought this yet, then quite simply you’re doing Vita wrong.

Our Score

Score: 9