Xbox Live Arcade
Lumines (ルミネス Ruminesu?) is a puzzle video game based on sound and light patterns. Created by game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his company, Q Entertainment, it was first released as a launch title for the PlayStation Portable in Japan on December 12, 2004 and released in North America on March 23, 2005 and released in Europe on September 1, 2005. As of October 11, 2005, Lumines has sold over half a million units since its original release in Japan. Europe has sold 180,000 units since its release in September 2005, and North America has sold around 300,000 since March while selling 70,000 units In Japan.
In September 2005, mobile gamemaker Gameloft announced that they would be bringing both Meteos and Lumines to cell phones. Lumines Mobile was released on March 1, 2006. A port for the PlayStation 2 was released on February 18, 2007 in Europe and February 27, 2007 in North America as Lumines Plus. It was also released for PC on the WildGames platform in December 2007 and later on Steam in 2008. In 2009, Lumines Touch was released on the iTunes App Store for iOS devices. The game was followed up by four sequels: Lumines Live! and Lumines II were released in 2006, Lumines Supernova in 2009, and Lumines Electronic Symphony in 2012.
Lumines is a block-dropping game that may seem at first to be similar to Columns and Tetris. A 2x2 square (an O tetromino) made of four smaller block pieces is dropped into the playing field, which may appear different as the player advances through levels or skins. The small blocks that compose the larger blocks will be one of two different colors. The objective is to rotate and align the blocks in such a way as to create 2x2 squares of the same color, which may span multiple blocks and, indeed, share blocks. For example, if one should get a 2x3 area of matching blocks, the middle portion will "share" itself with both the left and right halves and create two 2x2 squares. After the "timeline", which is synchronized to the music, sweeps over the matching blocks, they disappear. When too many unmatched blocks pile up to the point where no more blocks may be dropped in the playing field, the game ends.
When part of a falling block hits an obstruction, the unobstructed portion of the block will split off and continue to fall. More points are scored by creating the largest number of squares during one "timeline" sweep. Increasing score multipliers are earned by repeatedly clearing squares on consecutive timeline sweeps. Bonuses are also awarded by reducing all remaining tiles to one single color or for removing all non-active tiles from the screen altogether.
Occasionally, a block falls with a special square of one of the two colors with a "jewel" in the center. This square, when cleared as part of a matched 2x2 square, will cause all individual blocks of the same color that are horizontally or vertically adjacent to the matched 2x2 square, or to an adjacent square, to be cleared without score. These can be used for both generating large bonuses, since generally several blocks of the other color will be formed once these are removed, as well as to help the player recover if the field becomes too cluttered.
Lumines is played in different "skins". Like the software interface skins, these change the visual appearance of the board, but they also control the soundtrack. Each skin contains a different music track and different sound effects, which are triggered by game events and then integrated into the soundtrack. As in Mizuguchi's earlier game, Rez, the soundtrack and sound effects are much more integral to the game than in most others. Skins are unlocked by progressing through the different game modes, or in four-level intervals in challenge mode. Each skin also changes the rate at which the timeline moves across the screen, in time with the music. This can affect the game play; faster tempos make it more difficult to create large combos, and slower tempos may cause the playing field to fill while waiting for the timeline to sweep across. The visual changes can also be jarring. While it's generally easy to distinguish the two colors, nearly always a light and a dark one, the contrast of these colors with the background can be difficult to make out, and thus can make playing more difficult. Compounding this are distracting elements like animated backgrounds and frenetic music.
In addition, the order that the skins are presented to the player in both Challenge and Vs. CPU mode are fixed in a pre-set order that loops around indefinitely. (While this is also true for the basic mode in Lumines Live!, this game also includes the ability to create one's own desired skin order). The order of the presentation of the skins can affect the difficulty of the game as well; for example, a fast-paced skin which can cause a lot of blocks to pile up, followed by a skin with a very slow timeline can make it difficult to recover from earlier mistakes. Skins change regularly after a fixed number of 2x2 squares are removed, tracked by a "level" indicator, so that one can prepare for the visual disruption caused by the change.
There are four basic modes in the game: Challenge, Time Attack, Puzzle, Vs., and Vs. CPU Mode. Challenge Mode cycles through skins in a fixed order of generally increasing difficulty, and is played until the blocks pile up to the top of the screen. The maximum score in Challenge Mode is 999,999 points. Time Attack games give the player a limited time to clear as many blocks as possible. Puzzle mode challenges the player to create pictures (such as a cat, dog, cross, etc.) by forming the picture with one color while surrounding it with the opposite color. Vs. CPU mode is a series of battles against A.I. opponents. A line splits the playing field in half, and deleting blocks or combinations of blocks shifts the line towards the opposing player, giving the opposing player less room on their side. The battle ends when blocks pile up all the way to the top of the screen for one player. Two players with PSPs can use their wireless connection to play in the same way.
It is theoretically possible to beat at least the slow parts of the single-player Challenge mode of Lumines deterministically. By dividing the game board into separate sections, and using each section to clear blocks of only a single type, it is always possible to place a piece so that the game state stays in a loop. However, this tactic is not completely foolproof; it will only work as long as the speed of the falling blocks (which can increase or decrease with changes in the "skin") does not exceed the ability of the player to place them before landing and the timeline moves quickly enough to delete the blocks. A jewel (deleting all blocks of the same colour that are aligned to it) can also foil this tactic.
Sequels and follow-ups
In September 2005, mobile gamemaker Gameloft announced that they would be bringing both Meteos and Lumines to cell phones. Lumines Mobile was released on March 1, 2006. It is provided by some US phone companies (Verizon, Sprint Nextel). In February, 2007 a port for the PlayStation 2 was released under the title Lumines Plus. It added new skins and music tracks, although at the same time omitting some other tracks from the original game. In December 2007, Lumines was made available for Windows through the Wild Games network. On April 18, 2008, the game was released on Steam; however, both these PC versions are actually reduced versions of Lumines II, having the new interface and visually upgraded themes. Most licensed and some "regular" themes are omitted, as well as the "Versus CPU" mode and multiplayer. In August 2011, Ubisoft announced that a version of Lumines was in development for the PlayStation Vita.
Lumines Live! is played in different "skins". Like software interface skins, these change the visual appearance of the board, but they also control the soundtrack. Each skin contains a different song and different sound effects, which are triggered by game events and then integrated into the soundtrack. As in Mizuguchi's earlier game Rez, the separation of soundtrack and sound effects is much less than in most video games. Skins are unlocked by progressing through the different game modes.
The game runs in 720p and supports 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. It features seven modes of play, built-in multiplayer both offline and online, Achievements, Leaderboards and GamerScore support and online competitive modes.
A new feature in Lumines Live! over the original Lumines is the ability to create one's own sequence of skins from the skins that have been unlocked through single play mode. Any number of skins can be used exactly once in this sequence and the sequence can be set to either be a single time through (providing a score-attack mode), or to loop indefinitely (providing an endurance mode).
Lumines Live! is included on the Qubed compilation for Xbox 360 along with Rez HD and Every Extend Extra Extreme. The downloadable content included with Lumines Live! on Qubed consists of the Advance Challenge Pack, VS CPU Pack, Puzzle/Mission Pack, Rockin' Holiday Pack, and both Genki Rockets skins (Heavenly Star and Breeze). The only packs that aren't included are the Booster Pack and Tokyo Club Mix Pack, however, these can be downloaded separately and will work with the game on Qubed.
In January 2009, Lumines Supernova was released on the PlayStation Network. It has all the features of Lumines Live! (with the exception of online multiplayer) as well as the sequencer from Lumines II and a new mode, DigDown Mode. DigDown Mode is a timed mode where the player has to clear two vertical lines within a time limit to move "down" to the next stage.
Lumines Electronic Symphony
Lumines Electronic Symphony for the PlayStation Vita was announced in Gamescom 2011, having its first showcase at Tokyo Game Show 2011. According to an article posted on the PlayStation Blog by Producer James Mielke, "Lumines Electronic Symphony is a music-puzzle game that merges vivid colors and shapes with the intoxicating beats of an electronica soundtrack."
Lumines Puzzle & Music
In January 2015, the rights to both Lumines and Meteos were acquired by Mobcast, and the company announced the development of a new Lumines mobile game. With many of the original development team involved, including director Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Lumines Puzzle & Music released on mobile formats on September 1, 2016. The initial game includes two "albums", one composed of eight new songs and the other of six songs from the original game, including Mondo Grosso's "Shinin'". Another Lumines mobile title, a free-to-play entry titled Lumines Vs., is slated for release in Q4 of 2016.
Lumines received positive reviews, garnering an average score of 89% from over 55 reviews on Metacritic and a score of 90% from over 72 reviews on Gamerankings; it was the highest-rated PSP title on both sites until being pushed to 2nd place by 2008's God of War: Chains of Olympus. GameSpot scoring the game a 9 out of 10 called Lumines, "the greatest Tetris-style puzzle game since Tetris itself" praising its sound and beautiful presentation Jeremy Parish from 1UP.com rated the game a "A" stating, "Q Entertainment has used the Tetris template to duplicate a lightning-in-a-bottle feeling equal in brilliance and addictiveness to the puzzle classic."
In the summer of 2007, an exploit was discovered within Lumines, allowing owners of any variety of PSP including the current 3.50 firmware at the time to downgrade and install custom firmware. Resulting in a surge of popularity and nearly a 6000% increase in sales on Amazon alone.
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