lum2When one thinks of a system’s killer app (a game that provides a memorable gaming experience while showing off the system’s abilities), it’s not uncommon to think of shooters such as Gears of War and Halo on Xbox 360 or Resistance and Killzone on the Playstation 3. Final Fantasy 7 and 8 could be considered killer apps for the Playstation 1 as they made a significant impact on gaming and helped Sony move an insane amount of units. On the Nintendo 64, it was Mario 64, as it’s 3-d analog gameplay made a similar impact on gaming, However when one thinks of a killer app for the PSP (or for any other system for that matter), the last thing anyone would consider is a puzzle game. However, when the original Lumines hit the PSP back in 2005, its integration of music, video, and puzzle gameplay became an instant hit amongst gamers, almost making it this generation’s answer to Tetris. When this sequel was released, the gameplay proves to be just as addictive as it was the first time, and it had several new features to boot.

Lumines has you rearrange falling blocks made up of 4 squares on a grid. By combining squares of the same color, you create 4 X 4 blocks. A track line scans through the grid eliminating any cubes created. Making bigger blocks gives you chain bonuses, and a special item allows you to create an even bigger combo by eliminating all attached blocks of the same color. While this is going on, a music video plays in the background, and the music reacts to your progress. As you make it to new levels, the video, sound, and the color of the blocks change. Lumines 2 includes a new mission mode (in which you fulfill certain requirements), a puzzle mode (in which you create shapes), a playlist editor (in which you can edit playlists of your favorite skins and soundtracks), and a sequencer (in which you can compose your own music). You can trade custom mixes and play against your friends via the PSP’s ad-hoc connection (sorry, no infrastructure). The soundtrack includes a wide range of music, including artists such as the Black Eyed Peas, Missy Elliot, and Junkie XL. There are plenty of obscure musicians too, so you never feel as if you’re playing a top-40 list.

Like any good puzzle game, Lumines 2 is easy to learn but hard to master. It’s also one of the few games where audio and graphics play as much of a vital role to the game’s enjoyment as the gameplay. Although there are versions of the game on Xbox Live Arcade and PC, the PSP version is definitely the way to go. Flipping around blocks on a handheld system hasn’t been this fun since Tetris.