Lumines : Electronic Symphony Review

Just over 6 years ago, Lumines debuted on the original Sony PSP console as a launch title developed by Mizuguchi Tetsuya, probably most known for Rez and its spiritual successor, the recent Child of Eden game. Fast-forward to present day and Q has returned with the latest game in the Lumines series, Electronic Symphony, for the PS Vita’s launch.

Upon starting the game, you’ll be greeted with the menu, where you can select to play one of the various modes available. The main game mode, voyage, allows you play through all the skins in the game’s tracklist back to back.The core aim of the game still remains the same as always, you use the falling blocks to match squares of the same colour, which are then cleared as the time slider scrolls past the screen. As you complete each skin, you unlock it and can then add it to a custom playlist in the returning playlist mode. The first few skins in voyage mode start off rather easy, with the difficulty gradually increasing the longer you manage to continue playing without any blocks reaching the top of the screen. This is definitely useful for new players, so they can get accustomed to playing the game, but veterans may find it takes too long to get to a difficulty level which would challenge their abilities.

So, for players looking for more of a challenge mode, Master mode gives you 5 ‘zones’ of increasing difficulty and speed, which you can play through in sequence, or select a specific zone once you’ve unlocked it. Stopwatch mode is included as a simple time-attack mode where you need to clear as much blocks as you can in 30,60,180 or 300 seconds. Multiplayer is also included in the form of the Duel mode, where you can play other Lumines players via the Ad-hoc connection.

To keep ES from being a simple rehash of the previous games, several new features that have been introduced to the Lumines series. The main addition, the Experience System, keeps track of the scores you get in each of the game modes and awards you XP. as your XP bar fills and you level up, new skins and avatars are unlocked. This feature will be very useful for players who want to get some of the later skins in voyage mode but cant survive long enough to reach them.
The avatars that you select now can provide you with abilities you can use in game to help you clear blocks or to hinder your opponents when playing multiplayer. Each avatar has 2 abilities, one for single player and the other for multiplayer, with over 40 different avatars available to unlock. While the addition of avatar abilities isn’t a game-changing feature, it can definitely be useful when you have a pile of blocks nearing the top of the screen and need something to deal with them quickly. This can also be said about the ‘Swap Block’, another new in game feature, which will randomly swap the colours of all the connecting blocks when it is placed. If you’re lucky it could even create a large chain of blocks once it’s swapped the colours around.

One unusual addition to the game is the “world block”, which is a block of 2 million squares, which gets reset every 24 hours. During every 24 hour period, all Lumines : ES players are tasked with clearing this block by contributing squares. This is done automatically when you clear squares in the single player modes while connected to the Internet. This isn’t essential, but contributing to this will award you with bonus XP, which can help you unlock that next skin or avatar.

While the core game hasn’t been changed a great deal from the original, Q Entertainment have imbued Electronic Symphony with several new features to enhance the experience for old and new players alike. Playing Electronic Symphony on the PS Vita with the vivid colours and backgrounds, as well as the new 3D blocks, looks absolutely stunning on the 5” OLED screen, while the catchy soundtrack will always keep you coming back for more. If you want to be fully immersed in the experience, a good pair of headphones would be a wise choice indeed.

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Osu!droid Review

If you’ve owned a Nintendo DS, you may be familiar with a game called Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, which was a music/rythym game released in japan and then spawned a US/EU adaptaption called Elite Beat Agents. Both these games were very well received by fans and gaming press, and eventually a PC game simply called osu!, based on the original DS game was created by Dean Herbert, aka peppy.

with osu! on PC, players could use their mouse to play or, if they had access to a graphics tablet, use a stylus instead, which many found was a better way to play and far more accurate than using the mouse. osu! also introduced many features and additions to the basic gameplay style found in the original DS games, players could create and share their own beatmaps for any song they wanted, and use custom skins to modify how the game looks when playing a certain song.

With that history lesson over, a port of osu! called osu!droid has been released on android, thanks to the efforts of a coder who goes by the name of pesets, after porting the game to the android platform over the past few months. Visually, the game looks almost exactly like the PC version, with the same interface and also retains the ability to display custom skins included with particular beatmaps. The basic concept of osu!droid is simple to learn but difficult to master, especially when you decide to try some of the hard or insane level beatmaps in the game.

When you start the game, you’ll be greeted with this title screen; you can choose to play, modify options or quit. After clicking play, the game will load for a few seconds to scan the designated directory and add any newly added beatmaps into the game libary. Once this has completed, you’ll see your song selection list. osu!droid comes with 4 sample songs and osu!droid lite doesn’t come with any songs at all (this download would be better for you have a low data cap on your android device). Scroll through the song list by swiping up or down and then tap on a song title to reveal the different difficulty levels available for that song. Some songs will have one or two different difficulty levels and some others may have up to 5 or possibly more. It’s completely dependent on whoever created the beatmap, since all of the beatmaps are created by the osu! community online.

As mentioned before, the gameplay is based on osu! on PC, which in turn is based on Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! on Nintendo DS. So, if you’re familiar with either of those, you’ll know exactly how to play this version. For those who don’t, you play by tapping the circles on screen in time with the music. When a circle appears, a ring also appears around it, gradually getting smaller until it is the same size as the outer circumference of the circle. Once the outer ring reaches this point, this is the optimal time to tap the circle. These circles also appear in a sequence and are numbered to indicate in what order you need to tap them to progress through the song. Depending on how accurate you are, you’ll score 50, 100 or 300 points on each circle. Some beatmaps will also include sliders and spinners. Sliders require you to drag a sphere along a path that appears on screen and spinners need to be spun around multiple times to fill a gauge to complete that section.

Compared to the original PC version, osu!droid is an excellent port so far, retaining many of the features that made the PC game such a fun game to play. However, there are some features which aren’t included in this port, namely online rankings for songs and online multiplayer against other people. This may be a dealbreaker for some of the hardcore PC osu! players, but for simply playing a good music rhythm game on your own and having a wide selection of songs to play from. osu!droid is a really good choice for now.

osu!droid is available now on the android market for all android devices using android 1.6 and up

[Android Review] – QBeat for Android

QBeat - Music/Rhythm game for android
Cost: Free
Availability: Android Market

Tested on: ASUS Eee Pad Transformer [Android 3.2]

While looking for some music/rythym games to try out on my tablet, i found this little game on the Android Market. It wasn’t the J/Ubeat game i was originally looking for but did help pass a few minutes. Continue reading

osu!

I’ve been playing a lot of osu! lately, mainly trying to get back into practise as i haven’t played it in about a year or so and there are loads of new beatmaps i need to catch up on.

While doing this, I’ve also found a reason to dust off my old Xfire account and actually use it for something, since Xfire has apparently added a fairly decent video recording feature among a rage of new additions, even though the actual Xfire client still looks exactly the same as it did when i first signed up 5 years ago…

After a bit more practise and getting used to osu and Xfire again, I think I’ll probably try to record some more gameplay videos, so hopefully, these 2 videos will be the first of many.