Everybody fell in love with Tetsuya Mizoguchi's music-puzzle game, Lumines, when it was released last year during the PSP launch. It's no surprise, then, that a sequel is in the works.
I sat down in a leather chair in Sony's area here at E3 and, lo and behold, in front of me was a PSP with Lumines II in it.
After pressing start, the familiar Lumines grid appeared. Once again, the goal of the game is to form large like-colored cubes out of smaller cubes. Also, just like in the first game, the music and backgroun effects in the sequel are hypnotic and designed to distract the player.
This sure isn't the same-old, same-old Lumines though. Lumines II incorporates new symbol blocks, which are small colored cubes with a symbol inside them. In the level I played, it was a "+" symbol. When you form a large cube containing at least one symbol block, any small like-colored cubes linked to the main mass will disappear. For example, if you have a twisty snake of orange bricks, you can use a symbol cube to obliterate all of them, so long as one of them is touching the main mass.
The number of music tracks and background skin selections has increased. Fans of Mondo Grosso will find additional song tracks, along with tracks from BOA and a few other J-artists. Background skins are busier and more active this time around. Also, another big improvement is that music tracks and skins change more frequently while you're playing, such that the whole experience is livelier and more dynamic. If you played a marathon in the old Lumines, you'd be stuck with the same bricks and background the whole time. In the sequel, they're always shuffling.
We won't have long to wait for Lumines II. The build here at E3 is 80% complete. Buena Vista Games, and not UbiSoft, will be releasing it sometime later this summer, or in the early fall of 2006.
5/11/2006 Frank Provo