Lumines Live Xbox Live Review

There is no doubt the premise of Lumines is a great one, the basic idea Mizuguchi and his team at Q Entertainment came up with back in 2005 resulted in one of the best pure puzzlers to be release in years. In fact it was so good that I ranked it right up there with the likes of the omnipotent Tetris when I reviewed the PSP version way back in April of last year. So, as you see Lumines is a great game… so why is that lowish score gracing the bottom of this page you may ask? Well that a simple answer… Q Entertainment now knows Lumines is a great game and they want both your arm and your leg in payment.

Ok, so let’s try and be nice first and talk about what Lumines Live offers those who choose to download it. When you first begin to play the 50MB download you are greeted with the option to play a selection of modes – Challenge, Skin Edit, Time Attack, Puzzle, Mission, Vs. CPU and multiplayer. Vs. CPU offers just one stage to play, while the Puzzle and Mission modes both offer five stages each. Challenge is just like Lumines on the PSP with a selection of skins to play one after the other, morphing seamlessly as you play – the skin selection however differs from the PSP release. This mode is also not 100% complete and only contains 12 skins but a new pack that will contain 22 different skins should be released soon. (Update: This pack just appeared on the Marketplace during the course of finishing this review and will be reviewed at a later date).

There are a collection of welcome extras in Lumines Live compared to the original PSP release. Firstly is the removal of the 999,999 score cap which annoyed some PSP owners once they mastered the game. Next is the welcome addition of global leaderboards to coincide to the removal of the score cap to let those who choose to play battle against each other to get a high score just like all the other games on the XBLA. Also the addition of Skin Edit mode allows gamers to create the equivalent of ‘custom playlists’ to place the skins unlocked in any order so you won’t get bored having to play the same one at the start over and over again.

Multiplayer options in Lumines offer something slightly different than most puzzlers. Instead of each player being given a different play area they are both forced to play in the same pit, the area is split down the middle by a small bar. The timing bar then passes through the pit like it does in all the other modes but the player that scores the most on each pass gains a part of the opponent’s play area giving them more options to score. It is a great intuitive system that lets players keep track of everything on screen and the feeling of recovering from being forced into a small play area and fighting back to win the game is very satisfying. This mode is very similar to the Vs CPU mode talked about earlier but if you want to practice in Vs CPU to beat your mates when you get a chance to play them you will be forced to download a new pack, as only one level is available to play in this download.

The fusion of great graphics and amazing audio is the crux of the Lumines experience and even though we have now found out this version is missing a few vital elements; the fun acoustical/visual experience is still most definitely on show. The game looks great in HD, with some of the skins almost jumping out of the screen at you as you play. Of course the game is not pushing the 360’s processor in any way, nevertheless there is still a wow factor evident as you play though the game.

The great Mondo Grosso that graced the PSP version with songs like “Shinin'”, “Shake Ya Body” and others are sadly nowhere on show. Although we’d be willing to bet on them appearing somewhere down the line. Maybe a “Mondo Grosso Mega Pack” will be top of everyone’s Christmas list…or maybe not. The songs on show however are of an ok quality. There are probably only 2-3 really great standout tracks of the ones that are available but we are sure more greats will appear in the packs that will become available down the line (*sigh*).

And now the problems… and lets start at the big one. You may have noticed a few little hints dropped in the previous paragraphs but now lets stop this beating around the bush… Lumines Live is not a full game, the download labelled “Lumines Live – Full Game” available on the Live Marketplace is missing core elements that should be included for the asking price. Lumines Live is half the game, in fact it is probably less than that. On the surface it may look like what you would expect Lumines to be but once you start playing it is revealed that the game has been ripped to shreds with bits chopped off and thrown to the wayside waiting to be added in when you are willing pay some extra cash.

1200 Microsoft points (£10.20) is a lot to ask for an XBLA title but for something like Lumines it could very well have being worth it. In fact if Lumines Live offered gamers an all singing all dancing full game with a bursting list of features, like its PSP cousin it would be fantastic value but sadly what is available to download right now is a bare-bones release at an extortionate price. What makes the whole debacle even worse is that fact that Q Entertainment are ready to release add-on packs which according to Major Nelson will be priced at 600 (£5) to rape consumer’s wallets even more. I personally would have no problem buying these add-on packs if the original release was up to scratch but right now in its broken up bastardized form, it seems the job of Lumines Live is to extract as much money from gamers’ pockets as it can.

To me the XBLA is supposed to be all about spur of the moment purchases that need little thought when choosing to buy but it seems things are a-changing. Lumines Live is the living vision of the nightmares people had when Microsoft first announced microtransactions to the world in the lead up to the release of the Xbox360. For those that have, and will have money to burn in future weeks and months Lumines Live is fun but in terms of value for money eating raw sewage would be more palatable.

You have got to work very, very hard to f**k something up this bad.

7.1 out of 10

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