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Critical Reception: Q Entertainment's Lumines: Electronic Symphony

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Q Entertainment's PS Vita launch title Lumines: Electronic Symphony, which reviewers describe as "the most fun I've had with the franchise."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Q Entertainment's PS Vita launch title Lumines: Electronic Symphony, which reviewers describe as "the most fun I've had with the franchise since it debuted in 2004." Electronic Symphony currently earns a score of 85 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Joystiq's JC Fletcher scores Electronic Symphony at 4.5 out of 5 stars. "Lumines: Electronic Symphony, despite technically being part of [the hectic PS Vita launch week], has had nothing but a restorative effect on my mood," he notes. "My time playing Lumines has been the only time in the last week during which I wasn't panicking." Fletcher continues: "The core game remains, of course, the arrangement of two-by-two (or more) squares of the same color, which are wiped away by a 'time line' that moves at the tempo of the song playing. "However, mechanically, there is some new stuff to be found in Electronic Symphony. Your (unlockable) avatar comes with a different powerup ability in single- and multiplayer, unlocked by tapping the character. These range from slowing down the arrival of the next block to randomizing all the blocks on the screen, usually to your benefit." The series' trademark synaesthetic elements return in full force in Electronic Symphony. "What really matters in Lumines is the interaction between visuals, music, and puzzles," Fletcher writes. "The bombardment of musical and visual stimuli actually helped me focus on the game by forcing me to ignore everything else. "I won't go so far as to use the cliche of calling it 'hypnotic,' but I will say Lumines makes you care less about what's going on in the outside world." John Teti at The A.V. Club gives Electronic Symphony a B+ grade. "Tetris is the granddaddy of games like Lumines, but granddaddies aren't cool," he begins. "Lumines is cool. It's a falling-block game that seems to have the eyes and ears of a Tokyo VJ." "Electronic Symphony is more or less the same Lumines that became a must-play hit for owners of the original PSP," Teti continues. "The old game has been updated with new tracks and an even more dazzling look." A lack of extras proves to be the game's biggest shortcoming. "Lumines players could face off against a friend or against a murderer's row of computer characters; Electronic Symphony ditches the 'versus CPU' option," Teti notes. "In Electronic Symphony, you'll have to settle for squares. But oh, what mileage Lumines gets out of squares…" Jeff Gerstmann at Giant Bomb rates Electronic Symphony at 4 out of 5 stars. "Electronic Symphony doesn't rebuild the concept of Lumines block-by-block," he says, "but this Vita launch game is still the most fun I've had with the franchise since it debuted on the PSP back in 2004." Gerstmann continues: "The default mode is the 'voyage,' which takes you through the game's skins in a set order that includes tracks from artists like The Chemical Brothers, LCD Soundsystem, Benny Benassi, Kaskade, Aphex Twin, BT, and plenty more. This starts slow, and once you've gotten acclimated to the game, that can be a bit frustrating, because things might not get interesting from a difficulty perspective until you've played for 30 minutes or more." Limited multiplayer options hurt the experience slightly, however. "There's also a two-player duel mode that allows you to go up against a local friend," Gerstmann notes. "Perhaps it's a bit much to ask, given the rhythmic-nature of the game and the timing restrictions that might impose, but not having proper Internet play is still a bummer." "Lumines is a high-quality experience that just about earns its $40 price tag, even though it's a little hard to shake the notion that some of the previous installments appeared as downloadable games at downloadable prices," Gerstmann concludes. "The quality of the music and skin design should be enough to squash any doubts created by a price disparity, though, so if you're a Vita owner who likes a good puzzle game, bring the Electronic Symphony into your life as soon as you're able."

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