Reviewed by Evan Maroun
I remember when the PSP first came out because I was so torn on what game I wanted to get with it. Being a kid, I didn’t have the money to ball out on a handful of them so I chose carefully. Initially, it had a very respectable variety of games all over the genre spectrum in its launch lineup, including a Twisted Metal, an Ape Escape, even an entry in the Metal Gear series: Metal Gear Acid. For me though, I ended up settling on Wipeout Pure, a fast and fun racer. However, it wasn’t until after I had bought that, where I started to hear all this positive buzz around a little title called Lumines: Puzzle Fusion. I was younger at the time, and I was more into action-heavy games, so it made sense that this new puzzle game went right under my radar. I never did have the chance to pick it up.
Now, 14 years later, Lumines has made it’s way to the current-gen consoles touting a shiny new Remastered title and I’ve gotten to spend some quality time with it the past few days.
If you have never heard of Lumines like my younger self, It is quite simple at its core. Building off the familiar Tetris gameplay of placing pieces of falling blocks, Lumines mixes it up a bit. With a hypnotic electronic soundtrack backing it, instead of trying to form and complete rows, here you are trying to complete 4×4 (or bigger) squares of the same color and you only ever deal with 2 colors at a time. How hard can it be, right? Well, that’s what I thought.
Lumines is not easy, yet I think that’s largely part of the appeal. After I finished my first game, I immediately jumped back in for round 2. Then 3…and 4– each time making it slightly farther. Playing it just feels good, even down to the last second as you frantically try to clear out space but inevitably fill the board, resulting in Game Over.
Fortunately, Lumines comes packed with a few different modes. The first one I will mention is Mission Mode. While not listed first on the menu, I also feel like it’s the one you should dive into first. Mission mode tasks you with clearing stages with only limited blocks. While there is a very minimal tutorial consisting of Gifs, this mode really acts as a better one, teaching you clever and useful ways to clear blocks that will help you out in the main mode: Challenge. Challenge mode tasks you with getting to Level 100, which you do by clearing and making combos. Through this mode is also how you’ll unlock Skins and Tracks, one of the primary incentives to keep playing outside of the addictive gameplay. As you get further in this mode, both the skins and tracks will change, as well as the speed at which the blocks fall, along with your sweat (especially in this summer heat.) It can get stressful but in the best way.
Other modes include:
- Time Attack: Which is just a timed mode, seeing how many blocks you’re able to clear in the given time.
- Puzzle Mode: This mode tasks you with creating specific shapes out of the blocks, which of course start pretty basic, and get increasingly more intricate.
- VS CPU: Which doesn’t require much of an introduction. Here in Lumines though, instead of completing blocks and causing some to fall on your opponents side, your side of the board actually starts shrinking if your opponent is outperforming you and vice versa.
- 2P Battle: The same as above but with a friend. It can be very fun if you’re both around the same skill level!
There is also a Skin Edit section, which allows you to make a playlist of sorts of the different skins/songs you unlock in whatever order you like. So if you like certain beats or your tastes are purely aesthetic, you can play with those first, or save the best for last!
While I did enjoy most of what Lumines has to offer, it does come with one major annoyance, at least with the Switch Version. For a puzzle game that is a remaster and isn’t too graphically intensive, this game has unusally long load times. Even for simple tasks. I wanted to change my “Avatar” which is just a little icon that jams along to the beat in the corner of the screen, and even just going to this screen took about 15 seconds. I could cut it some slack for this when loading actual gameplay, but for random menus? Inexcusable. I hope this is not the case on Xbox One and PS4. I’m almost positive it isn’t on Steam. For some, the wait times could be worth the tradeoff for having it on the go though, as it does make an almost-perfect handheld title for fans of the puzzle genre.
Verdict: Buy it
Lumines Remastered is a puzzle game meant to draw you in with its pulsating beats and easy to learn gameplay, but it’s addictiveness comes from knowing you’re getting better with each game, striving for that next skin and beat to kick in. Fans of the original should be pleased to dive back in, while newcomers may find this their latest obsession. When the clock reads 1am and you say “One more game,” you know you have a winner.