Electronic Symphony also introduces a new XP system to make unlocking everything feel more rewarding and less tedious. You’re awarded points based on the number of blocks that you clear in any of the various modes, and with each level you gain you earn a new skin or avatar. It’s not complex, but it’s nice to feel that you’re being rewarded for sinking your time into the game — lots and lots of time — even if you’re not very good at it.
An excellent job has also been done to make you feel constantly connected to other Lumines players. There’s something called the World Block, and the goal is for everyone on the planet playing Electronic Symphony to clear 2 million total blocks every day. If successful, all contributors get an XP bonus. You don’t have to do anything different to contribute, either — all of the blocks that you clear in across all modes are counted. You’re also constantly reminded of your friends’ scores, as they’re featured right on the main menu for you to constantly mull over. Electronic Symphony is a surprisingly community-driven game, and it’s all the better for it.
As a Vita launch game, there are also a couple of touch-enabled features jammed into the gameplay, and the results are either mediocre or unnecessary. The mediocre is recharging your avatar ability. Normally, it’s recharged by ramping up your score, but you can recharge slightly faster if you tap the rear touchpad. It’s a fine idea, but doing so can hinder your grip on the system and makes it harder to play. The option to use the touchscreen rather than the d-pad and buttons hits the “unnecessary” checkbox. You can rotate the blocks by tapping the sides and move them across by swiping. It’s very clumsy, and I found myself turned off by it pretty much immediately — you definitely won’t be setting any high scores playing that way. Thankfully, it always remains nothing more than an option.
The frantic puzzle action in Electronic Symphony is as addictive as ever, and the sights and sounds are highly infectious. Meanwhile, the introduction of new gameplay features, sans the tacked-on touch controls, inject some welcome new strategy to the mix. The seamless tracking of high-scores means that you’re constantly playing against your friends, even in single-player modes, and the World Block is a nice touch that gives you a sense of attachment to the Lumines community at large.
Electronic Symphony is the best Lumines game yet, and much like the original it is amongst the very best games of the PS Vita launch. I highly recommend buying the game digitally, because you’ll want it ready at a moment’s notice.
FINAL GRADE: A