Lumines Plus Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 9.0
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 6.0
Overall : 8
Review by Robert McCormack
You know Lumines right? Yes, we all know Lumines. But now it's on the PS2!

The game of stacking blocks upon blocks continues to provide one of the most addictive gaming experiences available without a prescription. But what does the PS2 version do differently? Well not a whole hell of a lot, but that doesn't make it any less fun.

Gameplay

It's actually difficult to talk about the gameplay Lumines Plus without also bringing up the visuals and sound because they are so completely intertwined with the gameplay experience. To be brief, the gameplay of Lumines involves stacking 2D, 2x2 squares atop or next to each other with the goal of placing 4 tiles of the same color in a square or rectangular shape. A side-to-side scrolling bar comes along to repeatedly clear tile sets that meet these criteria and also puts a time crunch on your actions by dropping a new square each time it passes. It's...easier to learn by doing than by me writing it all out for you, but let's get back to the gameplay. Lumines Plus starts out at a casual pace but very quickly becomes a frenzied race to place squares properly and keep the game area clear. As you proceed between levels, the music and sounds fluctuate between sedate ambience and breakbeat uptempo madness. All the while, flashes of light, bonus achievement notifications, and pulsing special effects draw you into the experience which frankly could be mistaken for a mind control experiment. But, you know, the good kind.

Graphics

After seeing Lumines on the PSP and Xbox Live Arcade, the PS2's visuals are nothing to get too excited about. But again, that's not to say they're not doing their job. Visual themes (or "skins") in Lumines Plus range from cool, soothing color schemes and animations to nearly blinding seizure-inducing psychadelica. I may have just made up a word. Either way, I couldn't look away from the television while playing Lumines Plus so they must be doing something right.

Music & Sound

Truly one of the strongest points of the Lumines series is the attention to audio quality. The music selections are, though frustrating at times, perfectly matched to the gameplay. Sound effects range from soothing to comical to infuriating but again, they are all perfectly matched to the style, themes and gameplay.

Multiplayer

This is something of a letdown as it quickly becomes frustrating for one or both players. The screen is divided in two during multiplayer mode and as one player excels, the other player's play area is reduced significantly. So significantly, in fact, that the game becomes almost instantly unplayable for the player on the losing end of the stick. This dynamic has worked well in other puzzle games such as Tetris and Bust a Move, but it just doesn't feel right in Lumines.

Conclusion

I'll let my hours played do the talking here. Lumines Plus absolutely consumed me for days with play sessions lasting for several hours. And it's surprisingly entertaining to watch someone else play. In fact, 2-player coop might be the best way to tackle Lumines. That way one player can apply an ice pack to her eyeballs while the other pushes forward into new levels. A great puzzle game for the PS2, check it out!