Lumines Plus is, basically, a straight port of the original PSP release of the game that spawned about a billion thousand-yard stares. It's pretty much exactly the same as Tetsuya Mizuguchi's original Tetris-alike; the game with which millions of PSP owners have worn out their eyes and thumbs on their way to racking up insanely high scores. Sure, there are some extra skins, but this is essentially the game that launched a Lumines bandwagon that's (so far) seen the production of a PSP sequel, an Xbox Live Arcade version, a mobile phone variant, and plenty of freeware homebrew imitators.
Which means that you rotate 4x4 blocks as they descend from the top of the screen, in order to create blocks of the same colour that then disappear in synch with a time line that sweeps the screen from left to right. It also means, on the upside, that the game doesn't include any of the annoying skins introduced by Lumines II (even if you're a fan of such acts as Gwen Stefani, Black-Eyed Peas, or Missy Elliot, it's difficult to argue that they're an entirely successful addition to the track list). But on the downside, it also means that the game doesn't include any of the excellent additional modes or introductory tutorials that were also introduced by Lumines II.
So there's no Skin Edit mode to customise your playthrough; no Mission mode to act as a gentle introduction for new players; no Sequencer to pootle around with; and, most crucially, there are no additional difficulty levels. So instead of the reduced playing area of Lumines II, Lumines Plus sticks to the same 10x16 Challenge mode grid as the original, and supplements it with just a Single Skin mode (pretty pointless), Puzzle mode (pretty easy), Time Attack mode (pretty short-lived) and Versus modes (pretty fun actually).
Obviously that's all fine. After all, Lumines Plus is basically a straight port of the PSP original, and it's available at a bargain price point, so it seems unfair to criticise it for not being a straight port of Lumines II. A more significant downside is that some of the more memorable skins from the original release are no longer present (such as I Hear The Music In My Soul and Shake Ya Body). Instead, the game features a bunch of new skins, several of which have been seen in other versions of Lumines (or maybe all of the new skins have been seen in other versions of Lumines - with so many skins available across so many versions of the game, it's difficult for this thousand-yard-addled reviewer to keep track). Thus, skins such as Tiny Piano, Hometown, and Elect. M.G.R. are all now available by playing through the Challenge mode.
But actually that creates another new downside. The only real drawback to the original Lumines was the length of time required to play it. Staring at a screen and focusing your brain so intently for an hour just to cycle through your first lap of the Challenge mode skins was pretty tiring stuff. Staring at a screen and focusing your brain so intently for an hour and a half just to cycle through your first lap of the Challenge mode skins is even more tiring. See, by just adding those new skins to the Challenge mode, it means that it takes even longer to cycle through one set of skins. And while you are, of course, free to pause the action, doing so does run the risk of losing your in-the-zone focus and coming unstuck by the next tricky skin.
Having said all that though, Lumines Plus is, basically, a straight port of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's original Tetris-alike. Which means it's still brilliant. But this paragraph is itself going to have to be recycled from everything Eurogamer's already said about all the other versions of Lumines: if you haven't already played it, then you'll enjoy it, so you should buy it because it's basically amazing. But who hasn't played Lumines (and, more to the point, why?). If you've already sampled the mesmeric magnificence of either of the PSP versions, or of the Xbox Live version, or of the mobile phone version, you won't be surprised, or challenged, by anything included here. It doesn't offer anything new apart from the option of playing Lumines on your PlayStation 2. So how much do you want or need another set of skins to play with?
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