Lumines Electronic Symphony: Love the music but hate the gimmicks

One of the games that I’ve been anticipating for some time now is Lumines Electronic Symphony. I loved the game when it first came out for the PSP, and I expected to love the game for the PS Vita. And for the most part, Q Entertainment delivers. All of the great things about the original game are still there: from the great electronic music to the great puzzle gameplay. Even the graphics have been stepped up a notch, bringing some of the most intriguing background animations that you’ll never notice because you’re so focused on making sure you get your blocks just right. But not everything is all peachy. Hit the jump for more details.

But while everything great about the original Lumines is here in Lumines Electronic Symphony, not all of the additions to this new version are welcome. While the music is great almost by itself to get you to keep playing over and over again, just like your favorite song that is on repeat that you can only listen for so long, the music alone isn’t enough. For a puzzler like Lumines, a large component of getting you to play again and again is the idea that you want to progress even further in the game, but more importantly, being able to achieve a high score. In fact, I would argue that being able to beat my friends’ scores is often a strong reason for me to stay up all night. So why am I ragging on Lumines Electronic Symphony then, you might ask?  Unlike the original, your avatar has special abilities that are unlocked once its “power” reaches 100%. Part of reaching that 100% is achieved by bonuses. The other part? Tapping on the back touchpad. Although this is my only gripe with the game, it’s a serious one. Instead of focusing on how well I can lay down my blocks, I’m now forced to tap the back of my PS Vita as I play the game, which does two things: 1) detracts from the beauty of the game because I look like an idiot tapping crazily on my PS Vita from behind for everyone else to see; and 2) makes me feel like I’m cheating to accrue the special ability of my avatar. The worst part is that as much as I want to just not do it, I know that scores will be skewed between myself and my friends if I don’t. Comparing my score to other Lumines players feels cheap too, not knowing whether or not they actually used the “back tap” or not.

So, while I love almost everything about the game, I can’t help but feel like one big piece of the game has been twisted, relegating it to just a casual game that I’ll play off and on, instead of allowing me to make it competitive if I so choose. And so I can only hope that as the PS Vita matures, game developers will learn to discern what might be gimmicky use of the PS Vita’s cool new hardware features and what is not.