iPhone App Review: LUMA

LUMA by Walt DisneyTitle: LUMA (link)
Walt Disney
November 10, 2009
Pros: Quick, addictive play, good graphics and sound effects
Review: I confess when I first read LUMA’s description and saw the game shots, I thought I knew exactly how the game was going to go. At first glance, the concept seemed like this network type game I had played on a PDA long ago where ‘cables’ had to be rotated in 90 degree increments in order to connect various ‘nodes’ together to complete a ‘network.’ Although LUMA’s premise is similar, Disney Interactive (and its Enorbus subsidiary) have managed to turn the simple concept on its ears and produce a quick and highly addictive logic puzzle game.

LUMA by Walt DisneyBroken down into two modes: Adventure and Survival, you must rotate circles in 60 degree increments in order to connect a path of light between the starting point and the end point. As you progress, so do the rules. Eventually you’ll have to match colored end points by changing and even mixing colors together by passing through special cells. Other variations will include multiple start and stop points so you have to create two separate (and colored) paths and hazards which will force you to start the round over if the light hits them, meaning you’ll often have to use some logic and clever play to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Adventure mode is the first mode (represented by the snake type screenshot, although the image really has nothing to do with gameplay) and consists of 30 levels. You must complete all of the levels in order to unlock Survival mode. You have to unlock each level by successfully completing the previous level (meaning you must go in order), but once a level is completed and unlocked, you can replay it at any time. I found myself easily completing about five levels at a time, after which I was convinced I hit the wall, but after giving myself some time off, the next set of levels seemed like child’s play (a very smart child that is).

LUMA by Walt DisneyOnce you complete all 30 levels in Adventure Mode, the real fun begins as you unlock Survival Mode. Competing against the clock, there are 20 levels to complete to successfully manage Survival mode, progressing from easy to more difficult (as of this writing, I’ve barely managed to get past halfway). The levels are randomly chosen, but there’s a limited number of them so you’ll learn them well over time. Speed is also important as any time left over in each level is banked and added to the clock in the next level. In addition, there are 3 tools which can be used a total of 3x each in each game: one tool resets the clock to the time you had for the level (good for passing along extra time to the next level); one tool eliminates half of the cells that aren’t involved in the solution (you can use it multiple times on a level, but you can only use it 3x total in the game); and the last actually shows the solution for a few seconds (which often sounds a lot better than it is). Run out of time without solving the puzzle and the game is over.

There is no scoring system in LUMA and the only incentive it gives are rewards for completing tasks (e.g., completing each mode, completing survival with more than 2 minutes on the clock, etc). Since I’ve only completed Adventure mode so far, what I’ve unlocked is some simple wallpaper I don’t even find that appealing. That said, the real incentive here is the fun, addictive play and the true reward is the self gratification in making it between levels.

Disney has hit the bullseye on this one. Excellent gameplay for a reasonable pricetag. The only thing I would fault LUMA on is the typo of OPTIONS on the main screen (it reads OPTION instead). Other than that, here’s hoping there’s a next version with more levels to engage in.

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