The big surprise Xbox Live Arcade announcement at E3 was Lumines Live. Lumines was the first title developed by Q Entertainment and it was released as a PSP launch game. Now the title has gone multiplatform with an enhanced PS2 port coming out later this year, a mobile phone version and Lumines Live for the 360. What makes the Xbox 360 version special? Xbox live online play and a new skin edit mode. While Lumines Live has some additions it is missing other pieces.
The gameplay in Lumines Live is intuitive. Multi-colored cubes fall from the top of the screen and you need to align the same colored squares together to make a two by two cube. On the top of the screen you’ll notice a sliding timeline that moves from left to right. While the bar sweeps from side to side it clears any colored squares you form. The time line sweeps at different speeds depending on the skin and the beat of the song you’re playing. It’s simple, but addictive.
What keeps the game flowing are the flashy skins that switch every five rounds in challenge mode. Skins contain colorful backgrounds and different music to make Lumines a synthesia experience. In Lumines Live there are twelve skins in the base pack and most of them are from Lumines. The base pack removes all of the music contributed by Mondo Grosso, including the game’s signature first track Shinin’. Instead you start the game playing a new electronic song called Circles. Like Lumines before it Lumines Live is largely an electronic music game. The exceptions are Holiday in Summer which has a reggae beat to it and tiny piano which has a jazzy tune. Unlocking the twelve skins in Lumines Live is a breeze, by level fifty you will have completed base mode and earned 20 points towards your gamerscore. New to Lumines Live is a skin edit mode where you can pick the order of skin shuffling instead of following the preset order in challenge mode.
Lumines Live’s biggest selling point is online play. It is the same online mode on the PSP version, except you connect through Xbox Live and it isn’t hard to find someone else to play with. Multiplayer mode starts out with one player picking the skin. You can only use skins that both players have unlocked and have purchased for online battles, which was a little limiting when the game first came out. Now that the game is more mainstream it is easier to find a player who has unlocked everything. Battles still ask players to complete the same challenge, match up bricks into colored squares except that everything is played on a split screen. By matching up squares you can shrink the amount of room your opponent has to work with. Once a player fills up their entire space it is game over. Matches are fast paced, except Lumines Live suffers from some lag problems. Blocks don’t fall at a steady rate, which is sort of annoying.
While Lumines came with a bunch of other gameplay modes like Vs. CPU and a cool puzzle mode, Lumines Live makes you pay extra for them. There is a single Vs CPU stage to give players a chance to try out the mode and five puzzles to play. Puzzle mode has player stack up blocks to make shapes like the letter A and a small dog. It sounds easy, but completing puzzles is pretty challenging since same colored cubes clear. New to Lumines Live is mission mode where you have missions like clearing all the blocks on the screen with a set blocks and a finite number of moves. Mission mode is a cool addition for the hardcore Lumines players, but like the puzzle mode there are only first five simple missions. There are ten more missions to play, but that requires purchase of an additional upgrade pack.
While I love Lumines and I thought I was going to love Lumines Live just as much, the Xbox Arcade release is disappointing since it is missing so many features. If you want the complete experience you’re going to have to wait to purchase additional packs. Another omitted feature was music video skins. At E3 Lumines Live was shown with a video in the background and a partnership was announced with Time Warner music, but if you want to play those skins you have to wait until you can buy the artist pack in 2007. If you have Lumines already you probably wont get much out of Lumines Live except for the online play and the chance to show off your score to the world on the leader boards. You’ve heard most of the songs and the new ones aren’t worth spending the $15 over.
Version Covered: North American
Release Date: 10.18.06
+ Pros: Still as addictive as the PSP version and it sounds better on the Xbox 360 thanks to the Dolby 5.1 surround sound.
– Cons: Only four skins out of the twelve are new and the online gameplay is fairly laggy. What’s worse is you have to purchase addition packs to get the VS. CPU mode, puzzles and missions.
Overall: Essentially Lumines Live is a crippled version of a great PSP title. If you own the PSP game you might want to pass this over unless you’re hankering for online play.
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