27th Feb 2007 | 15:13
Through normal, non-Lumines-obsessive eyes Lumines Plus is essentially a port of the PSP original for your telly. All the same menus are there; the same skins, the same music and the same quirky characters. But if you do some digging you'll notice several new skins (the Lumines term for linked visuals and music) bolstered on to what we think is the best game of the series. How could it go wrong?
For those who missed it the first time around, Testsuya Mizuguchi's puzzler is a bit like Tetris with combos, stylised visuals and music seamlessly integrated with the gameplay.
Two colours fill the play grid and the aim is to line-up blocks of four to make them disappear - though they don't vanish instantly. A line which scrolls across the screen to the tempo of the background music clears any blocks you've lined up in groups of four or more. So you must rush to chain up multiple combos before the line makes its sweep.
Playing Lumines on the big screen certainly has its appeal as there've been plenty of occasions when we've been propped up on the sofa with a PSP. The PS2's larger and more defined D-pad usually presents more comfortable control over the handheld's, but in this case the play experience is directly comparable to original game and thankfully retains all of the fast, smooth puzzling of the original.
Sadly Lumines Plus offers little improvement - technical or otherwise - over the PSP game with the exception of the nine new skins, which will probably all look familiar to owners of the XBLA version and PSP sequel anyway.
The PS2 version does, however, feature textures and background animations that look disappointingly low-res and blurry. It's probably an unfair comparison considering the XBLA game runs in HD resolutions, but even compared to the PSP's super-sharp widescreen, Lumines Plus visually comes out second.
The resolution difference in Plus is also immediately noticeable, as the play 'grid' fills less of the screen than in the handheld cousin which can make the visual effects less apparent.
The improved audio in this console version however almost makes up for its visual faults; it goes without saying that the game's wide array of music sounds infinitely better thumping out of a home theatre kit than the PSP's dingy speakers, and thus makes for a more immersive experience (which in this case won't cause you to miss your tube stop).
If you absolutely must have Shinin' playing on your telly then this could be worth picking up, if not the Xbox Live Arcade edition is a much more solid and prettier looking version of the visceral puzzler.