There are very few mindless puzzle games which come close to being as addictive as the king of old-school puzzle games, Tetris. However, I believe I’ve just found my new addiction! I received a few games this week for review and Lumines: Remastered basically became my “play whilst the others are installing” game, which quickly evolved into my “let’s just try it one more time and see how far we can get… I don’t care if it’s 3am! I want to get a better score!” game. Remastered by Enhance, the team behind the awesome Rez Infinite, they have captured the addictive gameplay of the 2004 PSP original, from Resonair, and modernised it for the PS4, Xbox One, PC and the Nintendo Switch. I guess the question is, how fun is the game once you’ve spent about 5 hours playing it? Let’s find out.
Lumines (pronounced “lou-min-es”) was one of the top-rated action-puzzle games on the PSP when it released back in 2004. It managed to keep such a high stature and continue to win awards for about four years post-release, which is quite an achievement. The success of the game also led to numerous sequels, remakes and spinoffs such as Lumines Plus, Lumines II, Lumines: Touch Fusion, and Lumines: Puzzle & Music. As of 2018, the Lumines series of games have also managed to sell over 2.5m units combined – which is yet another amazing achievement for a puzzle-based game.
I never had the pleasure of playing the game before the remastered version but from the moment you start playing it, you are instantly hit with a nostalgia blast right in the face. Even if, like me, you never played it before, the simplicity of the puzzle mechanics crossed with the skilful choices you must make, it instantly reminded me of games like Tetris and Columns, as well as simpler games like Dr. Mario and Dr. Robotniks Mean Bean Machine (what’s with all the doctors?). It’s a game that the popular saying perfectly describes, “it’s easy to play, but hard to master”, as you can easily pick up the game and play it in short bursts and have a lot of fun, or test your skills as you aim to unlock all of the amazing songs and top the leaderboard (which is already populated by people with unrealistic scores).
First things first, what is Lumines: Remastered and how does it work? There are two factors to playing Lumines: Remastered, the drop and the wipe. Let’s start with the drop – just like in Tetris, you have a variety of blocks which you drop down into the playing area. The main difference here is that every single block you drop is a square, unlike in other games where you may have lines or varying shapes and sizes. However, within the 2×2 square, you will have any combination of two colours – or in some cases, all four squares will be the same colour. Your goal is to drop the cube and create cuboid shapes that are at least 2×2 of the same colour, so things like 2×3, 4×4, 2×6 etc.. are all acceptable.
Now, the game also employes physics into the action as well, so if you drop a cube and it’s hanging off an edge then the part hanging will proceed to fall until it hits a ‘floor’. This is where the strategy comes in. You are given a few examples within the tutorial of the game, but if you plan out your drops correctly then you can line up multiple chain reactions so that when one block is ‘wiped’ then the other blocks fall to chain together another ‘wipe’. I know what you’re saying, “other games do this” and “it’s nothing new”, to which I would say that you’re very correct. Only in Lumines: Remastered, it’s super addictive and you get so much satisfaction from seeing chain after chain – not that I actually managed to do that very often!
The second mechanic was the ‘wipe’. This is where things get a little interesting. Lumines: Remastered is heavily focused on its music and the beats, more than any other game outside of a rhythm game that I’ve seen to date. As you’re placing the blocks above, you will see a bar ‘wipe’ the playing area from left to right every few seconds in time with the music. This is another element which allows you to strategically plan out your combos as when you match up your colours the blocks aren’t instantly vaporised. Once the sweeping BPM bar goes past, that’s when the game counts the colours and eliminates those which have been matched up. This means that in some instances you can actually get a few more drops in on the action and increase the size of the cubes which are about to be hit by the ‘wipe’.
With the above two mechanics, it really makes every playthrough different and you’re guaranteed to never be able to play the same strategy in order to win. You must always think and adapt quickly if you wish to remain within the game. That’s not all though, I’ve only referred to the blocks as having ‘two colours’ but I’ve not said which colours they are, this is because every few levels you step up the ladder of progression and not only do the colours and cube styles change but the music and tempo changes as well. Basically, it’s another spanner they throw into the works in order to keep you on your toes and ready for anything.
There are numerous modes within Lumines: Remastered which are bound to keep you busy for many, many hours. The standard mode is the ‘Challenge’ mode. This one has you aiming to complete all 24 ‘skins’ one after another (there are 40 ‘skins’ in total, but only 24 are unlocked in this mode). Skin is the name given to the combination of music, squares design and colours. As I said above, each rotation is around about 3-4 levels after the last with each lasting you around about 3-5 minutes depending on your skill. This mode also has the option to play endlessly until you lose and play a ‘shuffle’ mode where you randomly rotate through the skins you have unlocked but you won’t unlock any new ones.
Do you have a favourite skin? I do after playing it for a few hours. If so then you’re in luck as you can also create a setlist of up to 10 skins and either play through them all in a single lap (full playthrough of the song then move on) or in endless mode. You also have a ‘Time Attack’ mode where you must clear blocks within X amount of seconds. Finally, we have two unusual modes which I wasn’t a fan of at first but after playing them a few times I really started to enjoy them more and more. ..
This mode is crazy, and really hard. There are 100 puzzles from the Lumines series’ which have you create a shape with the pieces you have at your disposal. For example, the first puzzle has you creating a ‘simple cross’ which is created by placing silver blocks in a + shape with only purple or no blocks touching the image. They begin to get progressively more difficult until it wants you to pretty much use the whole play area to make a big image within a set time and without making a mistake. From what I could tell, the drops seem random as well, so this mode requires a lot of skill and probably not the first thing you should try out.
Mission Mode is similar to the Puzzle mode in that you are given a set objective rather than just a free-for-all. The difference here is that you aren’t trying to create a shape with the drops you have but instead, you are tasked with various things such as “destroy all blocks with one drop”, “Create one column of nothing”, and “Erase all blocks in three steps”. These are a bit more difficult as you aren’t limited by time but instead by how many drops you have. The flip side here is that the drops aren’t random so trial and error could most likely see you to victory here.
Fancy a go?
So, you’ve beaten all the challenge modes, collected all the skins, smashed all the puzzles and completed every mission with flying colours – what next? Well, do you know someone you would like to play against? If so then you’re in luck as the game also supports local 2 player multiplayer. The only downside here is that it is literally Local ONLY – with no plans to implement any form of online multiplayer, which is a shame. At least it means we don’t have to worry about servers being turned off in the future though! If you don’t have any friends, or they are all bored of losing to you over and over again, then you can opt to play a two player game against the CPU instead.
Okay, so this is the strangest option I’ve seen in a game – the option itself isn’t that bad, but the press kit I received explaining what it ‘recommends’ you do is kinda unusual, to say the least. There is an option in the menu, which is unique to Lumines: Remastered, which is known as the ‘Super-Rumble’ mode. If you have the option set to “Rhythm & Blocks/Blocks Only” then you will just feel the option you choose on your controller as you play. However, if you opt for the “Trance Vibration” mode then things get very weird. The game will automatically detect any controller which is turned on (although Move controllers didn’t seem to work) and they will all vibrate in time with the music and the dropping of the blocks (if you have both options selected).
This allows you to strap 8 Joy-Cons, 4 DS4s or 8 Xbox One controllers to your body as you play and feel the vibrations all over. The developer’s suggestions were placing them on your hips, pockets, under your thighs and under your feet. I really wanted to try this feature out but I only have my move controllers so I was unable to feel the immersion of Super-Vibration! I have emailed the developers though to see if they can take a look at making the move controllers compatible as they are perfect to shove into your pockets or even your socks!
So, this brings me nicely to the graphics and sound design. I love Lumines: Remastered to death – it’s so simple in design yet incredibly addictive. The multiple ‘skins’ which swap around seamlessly to a totally different design and colour pallet is so cool and seamless. The ‘skins’ are the same as the original Lumines, so there are no new ones if you played the original back in the day. They have also included 44 avatars as opposed to the 48 which were in the original, but the 44 are chosen from ones you had throughout the series and not just from the first game. Other than that, there is little else to say about the graphics and the visual design – it’s clean, sleek, and fits the fast-paced action perfectly.
The sound is where Lumines: Remastered shines, even more than it’s addictive gameplay. The music chosen to appear in the game are all spectacular so far, each with their own beat, tempo, and style which gets you tapping along as you play and even singing along once you have replayed the first few skins over and over again. If you thought Tetris’ music was annoyingly memorable and got stuck in your head after playing it many times, you will think the same thing here. Seriously, I love this soundtrack and having the later ones unlocking via playing the game has only pushed my enthusiasm and determination to unlock them all.
Two rounds of the ‘Challenge’ mode:
Lumines: Remastered is a musical masterpiece, an addictive puzzle, and a fiendish rhythm game all presented in a simple, yet elegant, package. When you’re not trying to unlock new ‘skins’ in the challenge mode you’ll be either facing off against an opponent or trying your luck at one of the many pre-defined puzzles. As you progress you are rewarded with new songs, colour pallets and designs (skins), which boosts your determination to unlock them all and give it “just one more go”. Lumines: Remastered looks and plays perfectly on a big screen and I imagine it will be even better in handheld mode on the Switch, it’s just a shame the Vita missed out this time. Highly recommended to all those puzzle fanatics out there and those who just want a game to casually play every now and again.
- Simply design yet very, very addictive
- Amazing soundtrack
- Fast-paced and makes you want to keep playing to unlock more 'skins'
- Every play is different (other than the Missions)
- So many game modes and things to unlock
- No Vita version, even though it originated on the PSP
- Move controllers don't work for the Super-Vibrate mode (yet)
- No online play