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Lumines Plus
Score: 95%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Buena Vista
Developer: Q Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:
Lumines Plus is, like its portable predecessors, a magnificent blend of audio and visual stimulation. The 30 plus skins that are available in this release bring together all of the sights and sounds that helped make the two PSP titles the success they were.

Each skin not only comes with its own color scheme and style, but the audio effects and background music fit the visual feel as well. Each skin has different sound effects for rotating the squares, dropping them, and moving them left and right.

The changing skins are part of what makes the Lumines games so challenging since every time the skins change, you have to adjust to the new look of the game board, which always takes a little time to get used to.

Like I said earlier, Lumines Plus is the line's first jaunt onto the PS2 and it combines all of the skins and features of both Lumines and Lumines 2 (the two PSP games).

This release contains 30 skins in the Challenge Mode, 11 in Two-Player Versus Mode and 100 puzzles in Puzzle Mode.

If you haven't had the chance to play Lumines yet, then here's the run-down. On the surface, Lumines is your standard color-matching game. Two-by-two blocks comprised of two colored squares fall from the top of the screen. You clear squares from the screen by making blocks of four of the same color.

Challenge Mode advances you through each of the skins in succession. As you reach a new skin, it becomes available in Single Skin Mode. This mode lets you play as long as you want in a particular skin. This allows you to get used to the style of the skin and should help ease the transition between various skins in Challenge Mode.

Two-Player Mode lets a friend pick up a second controller and go head-to-head in a single skin and Puzzle Mode lets you try your wits at clearing a board with a specific number and set of blocks.

Lumines Plus, like its other flavors, is a challenging game. If you are in it to unlock all of the skins and character icons, then you will have to strategize quickly in order to reach the later skins. On the other hand, if your goal is to just have fun, then the game is a nice distraction and it isn't as difficult since you probably aren't pushing yourself quite as much to make it to the next skin.

Game Mechanics:
Lumines Plus's controls are pretty simple and intuitive. The D-pad is used to move the blocks from left and right as well as dropping it to the bottom of the board. The X or Circle buttons can rotate your blocks clockwise while Triangle and Square rotate them counter-clockwise.

Lumines' other venture onto a console is the Xbox Live Arcade game, Lumines Live. While playing the 360 arcade version, I couldn't help but feel like the controls were slippery and one tap of the left D-pad slid my blocks all the way to the side of the screen instead of just one square. Lumines Plus, on the other hand, seems to have tightened these control problems.

Fans of the PSP Lumines games should definitely pick up this title. Even if you haven't had the opportunity to play them, but like puzzle games -- then Lumines Plus is a good place to start.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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