As the silky house of Deep Dish’s The Future Of The Future kicks in on the opening stage (or skin) of Electronic Symphony, you quickly realise licensed music is Lumines’ secret sauce, the relative paucity of which has always held the series back from its true potential. It’s always been better when played as a music game, rather than a puzzler, and that’s clearer than ever thanks to an excellent soundtrack that’s been cherry-picked from 30 years of electronic music.
With familiar music, the sound effects made as you move, rotate and drop blocks into place are much easier to pick out. Those effects complement the music; in fact, they improve it. Rotate a block during LCD Soundsystem’s Disco Infiltrator, for instance, and you’ll hear a cowbell. It looks delightful, too, as ringing an endorsement of its host platform’s screen as the original was to PSP’s back in 2005.
The mechanics remain largely unchanged, but the special block that wipes out chains of the same colour is now active the moment it falls into place. A new block, which flips the colour of those it touches, serves only to confuse and is best dropped into an empty corner to minimise disruption. And, as ever, once you reach a certain skill level, games simply last too long. But with Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s often bland musical experimentation replaced with some of electronica’s finest moments, Electronic Symphony breathes new life into a series that had previously appeared stagnant.