Lumines grooves to cell phones... did it make the transition intact?
The worst thing about Gameloft's Lumines Mobile is that its gameplay is severely detached from its music. In the original Lumines, available for the PSP, developer Tetsuya Mizuguchi seamlessly blended the soundtrack and the gameplay so that every maneuver that the player makes somehow unleashes this wave of chords that enhances the overall experience. But no such animal exists in Lumines Mobile. The music and the falling blocks operate independently of each another to the point where you can play through the entire game without sound and be unaffected.
With that out of the way, this is without question one of the best puzzle games ever made, a magnificent mobile title that almost perfectly compliments the PSP version, the reason being that it has excellent audio and its addictive gameplay is perfectly intact. The fact that both of those features haven't been combined is a real shame, but given the technology that it elected to work with, both Gameloft and Mizuguchi have created a damn good game, one that's definitely worth your time.
At its core, Lumines is nothing more than a falling block game in which you carefully place similarly colored squares together in order to make them disappear. Splayed out across the phone's screen is a grid, the blocks fall from the top, and all you have to do is rotate the colors with the OK/Home key and strategically place them about the screen to form squares of the same color. There's certainly more to it. Some squares contain diamonds that, when placed atop similar colors, can vaporize an entire playfield, and blocks don't disappear until this vertical line (that repeatedly moves from left to right) passes them by, but by and large, that's how to play Lumines. It's simple stuff but it's highly addictive and becomes a lot more difficult as you go along, particularly because the blocks begin to fall at a faster pace. However, the mobile game is a lot easier than the PSP version. The speed of the blocks increases, but the game just moves at a much slower pace, which allows chumps such as yours truly to advance pretty far without getting owned by the AI, though that's probably a good thing seeing as how there's likely a huge difference in attention spans between the people who play games on their phones as opposed to their PSPs.
If you want depth, you'll be pleased to know that the game has quite a few modes, most of which need to be unlocked by playing the Instant Play mode. But there's Challenge Mode, Vs. CPU Mode, Single Skin Mode, Time Attack Mode, and Arcade Mode, a fun series of unique challenges that will put your skills to the test, so there's definitely plenty of things to check out, far more than in most puzzle games.
Aside from its gameplay, the other important feature that makes Lumines unique is its music, and thankfully, Lumines Mobile contains a decent selection of ten plus songs, each of which has its own signature skin, a background that has unique art work and pulses with light and various animations. Favorites such as Urbanization, Shake Ya Body, and Shinin' have been included, so if you played the original, you're going to come across lots of familiar tunes.
The music isn't exactly the same as the PSP game because of the limitations of the hardware, but all of those involved did a tremendous job bringing the soundtrack to the mobile platform. All of the songs blare from those tiny speakers even louder than on the PSP, and by and large everything's fun to listen to. I'm just disappointed that it doesn't have any bearing on the gameplay.
So here's the deal. I was originally going to give Lumines Mobile a three out of five because of how separate the gameplay is from the music, but then I found myself playing for several hours and it became apparent that despite this shortcoming, this version of Lumines is one of the best games available for cell phones, period. It's addictive, has a wonderful soundtrack, and plenty of attractive skins. In short, I dig it.
*Please note that at press time, I was unable to explore another option, dubbed Gameloft Live.
What's Hot: Lots of modes, lots of music tracks
What's Not: Music isn't as important to the gameplay this time