There’s no skirting around the fact that Tetris is a classic. I just think it’s boring as all hell. This is why I find the Lumines franchise so appealing. Blending tile matching with vivid graphics and uplifting electronic beats, Lumines reinvented the block puzzler for a new generation.
Lumines first landed on Sony’s PSP handheld back in 2004 and is the brainchild of Japanese game developer Tetsuya Mizuguchi. Realising his potential, Sony hired Mizuguchi’s studio to reboot Tetris for PS4 and PSVR. Before that collaboration comes to fruition, the puzzle game that started it all is remastered for PC and modern consoles in 4K where it looks, sounds and plays brilliantly.
Lumines Remastered is all about dropping and erasing blocks. Blocks containing 2×2 tiles of different colours enter from the top of the screen, and then you rotate and place them, attempting to match the colours already on the playing field. A Time Line moves from left to right clearing out the matched colours. The more matches you make, the more points you earn.
Things get interesting when colour and music come into to play. Each ‘skin’ offers unique colours, shapes and sounds, affecting the Time Line as it moves across the screen to the rhythm of the beat. Faster beats make it more difficult to hit large combos, while slower beats can cause the playing field to fill while you’re waiting for the Time Line to sweep across.
Every 3 minutes or so, the game transitions to the next skin, forcing you to adapt to the new colours, sounds and speed of the Time Line. Changing skins keeps the content fresh and provides an excellent rotating soundtrack. There are over 40 skins to unlock covering house, trance and techno beats.
Challenge is the primary game mode. It has 24 skins for you to complete back-to-back. The first 20-25 minutes of each round can be quite easy. Then the difficultly ramps-up to what inevitably becomes an intense (seizure-inducing) experience. If you only care about dominating the online leaderboards, Endless is the perfect mode for you.
Puzzle mode is a nice warm down from the intensity of Challenge. Each of the 100 puzzle levels tasks you with making shapes out of falling blocks within a set time limit. Mission is a similar game mode, offering another 50 levels of puzzle solving goodness. This time around it’s erasing a fixed amount of blocks in a certain number of moves. The load times for Puzzle and Mission are long, meaning it’s impossible to restart a level instantly when you make a mistake. The waiting can get frustrating when you’re stuck on a level.
VS mode lets you take on a friend or the CPU. A line splits the playing field in half, and erasing blocks or combinations of blocks shifts the line towards the opposing player, giving them less room to play. The battle ends when blocks pile up all the way to the top of the screen for one player. Unfortunately, there is no online matchmaking which is an odd choice for a multiplayer game in 2018.
On PlayStation 4, the graphics are crisp, and the beats sounded excellent when coming through my Bose soundbar. On Nintendo Switch, the fidelity of the graphics drop, but are compensated for by the portability of the system and the HD Rumble of the Joy-Con controllers which vibrate in time with the beat.
Lumines Remastered doesn’t bring much new content to the table. It’s just a more refined version of a game that came before. 2009’s Lumines Supernova for PlayStation 3 had licensed music from acts such as The Chemical Brothers, Mylo and The Go! Team. I wished this version added some tunes that I recognised. Instead, it’s an original soundtrack. Also, the ability to save mid-game would have been a nice addition.
Still, I had a blast playing Lumines Remastered and recommend it to anyone who’s never experienced the franchise and those Nintendo Switch owners looking for an excellent puzzle game to play on the train or bus. Lumines Remastered is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch for AUD $22.95.
Man of Many received a copy of the game courtesy of the publisher.