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Lumines: Puzzle Fusion

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Lumines: Puzzle Fusion
Lumines Puzzle Fusion.png
Developer(s)Q Entertainment
Publisher(s)
Designer(s)Tetsuya Mizuguchi
Programmer(s)Katsumi Yokota
Composer(s)Takayuki Nakamura
SeriesLumines
Platform(s)PlayStation Portable, mobile phone, Windows, PlayStation 2, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Amazon Luna
Release
December 12, 2004
    • PSP
      • JP: December 12, 2004
      • NA: March 23, 2005
      • EU: September 1, 2005
    • mobile phone
      • NA: March 12, 2006
      • EU: May 30, 2006
    • Windows
      • WW: November 28, 2007
      • WW: June 26, 2018 (remaster)
    • PS2
      • NA: February 27, 2007
      • EU: March 9, 2007
    • PS4, Xbox One, Switch
      • WW: June 26, 2018
    • Amazon Luna
      • NA: March 1, 2022
Genre(s)Puzzle
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Lumines: Puzzle Fusion[a] (pronounced as "Loo-min-ess")[1] is a 2004 puzzle game developed by Q Entertainment and published for the PlayStation Portable by Bandai in Japan and by Ubisoft elsewhere. The objective of the game is to arrange descending two-colored 2×2 blocks to create 2×2 squares of matching color. A vertical line known as the "time line" sweeps across the field, erases completed squares, and awards points. Each stage has a skin that affects the background, block colors, music, and the speed of the time line.

Lumines: Puzzle Fusion is the work of video game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who had worked at Sega. Katsumi Yokota contributed to the graphic designer and assisted Takayuki Nakamura with music composition. Mizuguchi originally wanted to make a music-heavy Tetris-style game, but licensing issues prevented this so he created a new concept for Lumines. Mizuguchi was inspired to make a music game on the PSP, one of the few handhelds on the market with a headphone jack. The game was released as a launch title for the PSP in Japan in December 2004, in North America in March 2005, and in Europe in September 2005. It was later ported for mobile phones, Microsoft Windows, and the PlayStation 2 (PS2); a high-definition remaster was made for the PlayStation 4 (PS4), the Nintendo Switch, the Xbox One, Windows, and Amazon Luna.

Lumines: Puzzle Fusion sold over half a million copies in North America, Europe, and Japan, and was awarded "Best Handheld Game of 2005" by multiple media outlets. Several publications recognized it as one of the top games of 2005 and one of the best-ever launch titles. It was praised for its music and gameplay; multiple reviewers described it as addictive and drew comparisons with Tetris. The ports received less praise than the original version; critics commended the mobile phone version for its new features but criticized its poor sound quality, while the PS2 port was criticized for omitting some songs present in the original. Reviewers complimented the remastered version for enhancing the quality of sounds and visuals but were disappointed that an online multiplayer mode was not included as a new feature. The game spawned numerous spin-offs and sequels for multiple platforms, becoming the first entry in the Lumines series.

Gameplay[edit]

Screenshot showing the time line passing through a group of completed squares. The block the player controls at the top-center of the playing field and descends downward.
Gameplay of Lumines: Puzzle Fusion depicting a transition between background skins. The "time line" sweeps across the screen and clears the completed squares.

Lumines: Puzzle Fusion is a falling block puzzle game.[2][3] The objective of the game is to arrange grouped blocks descending from the top of a 16×10 grid playing field to create single-color squares once they have landed.[4] Grouped blocks have a 2×2 shape and vary between two colors.[2] Players can rotate the descending grouped blocks, move them left or right, or drop them straight down.[2][3] When part of the grouped blocks hits an obstruction, the remaining blocks separate from the rest and continue to fall.[5] A single-color square is created when grouped blocks form a 2×2 shape of matching color. Additional blocks of matching color can be added to create larger shapes.[5] The game ends when the blocks pile up to the top of the playing field.[3][4]

A vertical line known as the "time line" sweeps through the playing field from left to right, erasing any completed single-color groups of blocks it touches and awarding points for each group.[4][5] If a square is created in the middle of the moving time line, only half of the square is taken and no points are awarded.[3] Players earn increasing score multipliers by repeatedly clearing squares on consecutive time line sweeps.[4] Additional score bonuses are earned by clearing the playing field or reducing the remaining blocks to a single color.[5] The maximum score in the game is 999,999 points.[6] Blocks with embedded gems are known as "special blocks"; if these are used to create squares, they allow the time line to eliminate adjacent blocks of the same color.[4] Each stage has a skin that affects the background's appearance, the blocks' color scheme, the music track, sound effects, and the speed of the time line.[5] Stages with fast tempos make it more difficult to create large combos and stages with slow tempos may cause the playing field to fill more quickly while players wait for the time line to sweep across the screen.[3]

There are five game modes: Challenge, Single Skin, Time Attack, Puzzle, and Versus. Challenge mode is the main game mode and cycles through skins in a fixed order of increasing difficulty.[5][3][7] Single Skin mode allows players to select one skin to play for the entire play session.[8] In Time Attack mode, players have a limited time to clear as many blocks as possible.[9] Puzzle mode challenges players to create pictures using blocks.[3] In Versus mode, players battle against A.I. opponents or against other players via their wireless connections. The game begins with the playing field divided in half; the goal is to clear successive squares, which shrinks the opposing player's space.[5][10]

Later ports and remasters of the game added game modes such as Arcade,[11] Mission,[12] Shuffle,[11] and Skin Edit mode.[12] Arcade mode is designed specifically for mobile phone ports and players complete a total of 20 stages with CPU versus battles serving as Boss stages after a certain amount of stages are complete.[11][13] Arcade mode also adds blocks that can explode, a third color block within certain stages, and new grouped block shapes such as S-shaped or 3-block wide rectangles.[13] Mission mode offers specific challenges such as clearing the stage in a specific number of moves or clearing a specific number of columns.[12][14] Shuffle mode allows players to play a game session with a randomized order of stages.[13] Skin Edit mode allows players to customize their game session by selecting the order of unlocked skins.[12][14]

Development and release[edit]

A photo of Tetsuya Mizuguchi taken on April 1, 2007
Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the game's lead designer

Lumines: Puzzle Fusion was the first game developed by Q Entertainment with Tetsuya Mizuguchi serving as the designer.[6] Mizuguchi was part of the studio's founding following his departure from Sega after they dissolved United Game Artists, Mizuguchi's previous venture.[15][16] The game was developed by six people over the course of a year.[17][6] By the time the game was officially announced at the Tokyo Game Show 2004, it was 75% complete.[18] Mizuguchi was inspired to make a puzzle game with music when he first learned about the PlayStation Portable (PSP).[19][17] He described the PSP as an "interactive Walkman" and considered it the ideal device for his game because it was one of the few handheld video game consoles to feature a headphone jack and high-quality sound.[17] To attract casual players, Mizuguchi wanted to develop an audio-visual puzzle game that was less daunting to play than his earlier titles Rez and Space Channel 5.[19] Originally, he wanted to make a music-heavy Tetris-style game but problems with licensing led him to create a new concept.[20] Mizuguchi didn't consider the PSP difficult to develop games and began working on the game before any PSP software tools were provided.[16] The game's title was derived from "Lumine", meaning to illuminate.[21] The subtitle "Puzzle Fusion" intended to reflect the mixture of music-based gameplay.[19]

The prototype was initially developed on a personal computer PC running Microsoft Windows with the specifications of the PSP in mind.[17] At the time of the development of the prototype, Katsumi Yokota was mainly a graphic designer and illustrator, and considered himself an amateur music composer. He purchased several PC software packages, including FruityLoops and Cubase to assemble loops of electronic music, and Adobe Photoshop to create the visual graphics. Yokota learned about using sound effects while working on Rez, which led him to focus on making sound effects to supplement music for the prototype. He experimented with rhythms that synchronized with the game's time line bar and with pacing the gameplay to match the speed of the time line.[22] When deciding the game's mood, Mizuguchi felt something was missing from the soundtrack and looked for extant external music. While on a mid-year camping trip in Okinawa, he discovered the song "Shinin'" by Shinichi Osawa. The discovery inspired him to ask Yokota to implement a mode that would match music with visuals. Mizuguchi also asked Osawa to include four tracks that would be sequenced with the theme of a party beginning at sunset and ending at sunrise.[6][23] Osawa contributed the songs "Shinin'", "Shake Ya Body", "I Hear the Music in my Soul", and "Lights".[24]

Yokota initially thought the game's soundtrack would be limited to techno and dance music, and worried the project lacked musical variety.[22] Takayuki Nakamura joined the project as the lead composer after the prototype was completed with Yokota assisting.[22] He overcame this problem by constructing a rich variety of songs that were based on an understanding of the game's design, and considered the final product to be reminiscent of ambient music.[19][22] Nakamura primarily used Reason and Ableton Live software to compose the songs.[25] His goal for the background music was for it to feel complete and enjoyable to listen to despite it changing during gameplay.[19] The music and skins were simultaneously developed; the music, except for the tracks "The SPY loves me" and "Japanese Form", which were directly influenced by Yokota's design, had to be completed before the skins were finalized.[22] Nakamura implemented strict rules for the songs to follow 4
4
time signature
because the playing field is divided into 16 columns and the time line needed to be synchronized with the beat. He made an exception for the song "Big Elpaso", which alternates between time signatures 5
4
and 3
4
, resulting in an average of a 4
4
time signature for every two bars.[22]

On December 12, 2004, Lumines: Puzzle Fusion was published by Bandai and released in Japan as a launch title for the PSP.[26] For North America and Europe, the game was published by Ubisoft and was released on March 23, 2005, and on September 1, 2005 respectively.[27][28]

Ports[edit]

Ports for multiple platforms, each with its revisions, were also released. In September 2005, mobile game publisher Gameloft announced it would release Lumines for mobile phones. Lumines Mobile was released in North America on March 12, 2006, and in Europe on May 30, 2006.[29][30] Mobile phone ports exclude Versus mode between players while introducing Arcade mode and Shuffle mode.[13]

By the time ports for additional platforms were released, several sequels and spin-offs had been made available; music and gameplay from those new games were incorporated into the ports. Buena Vista Games released a port for the PlayStation 2 (PS2) that was published as Lumines Plus in North America on February 27, 2007, and in Europe on March 9, 2007.[31][32] Lumines Plus includes nine songs from Lumines II (2006) but omits "Shake Ya Body", "I Hear the Music in my Soul", and "Lights" from the original game.[31][33][34]

A version for Microsoft Windows was released on November 28, 2007, via WildTangent, and on April 18, 2008, via Steam's network.[35][36] The WildTangent and Steam versions include Mission mode and Skin Edit mode, which had been introduced in Lumines Live! (2006).[37] The Steam version contains 21 unlockable skins with a sampling of stages for Time Attack, Puzzle, and Mission modes. An "Advance" pack that adds a second group of 21 skins, 70 puzzles, and 35 missions to the base game, was released the same day.[36]

Lumines Remastered[edit]

In March 2018, Mizuguchi, under his new company Enhance Games, announced Lumines Remastered[b] with the Japanese studio Resonair as the developer. It was released on June 26, 2018, for Microsoft Windows, the Nintendo Switch, the PlayStation 4 (PS4), and the Xbox One.[38] Physical versions for PS4 and Nintendo Switch platforms were distributed as a limited release between April 26 to May 10, 2019, via Limited Run Games.[39] The game was made available for cloud gaming on Amazon Luna streaming platform on March 1, 2022.[40][41] The game has enhanced visuals and support for high-resolution systems.[42] It includes the original, Nakamura-composed, high-bitrate music that had been downsampled for the PSP version and other releases.[19] Some blocks and visual effects were redesigned. Game director Eiichiro Ishige considers Lumines Remastered a remake rather than a remaster.[43] The game retains the original Challenge, Puzzle, Versus, Time Attack, and Versus modes alongside the Mission, Shuffle, and Skin Edit mode introduced in later releases. However, it omits the Single Skin mode from the original PSP version.[44][45] Mizuguchi decided to remaster the game to use new features, such as HD Rumble on the Nintendo Switch's Joy-Con game controller, and said haptic gameplay features would add something new to Lumines.[19]

Lumines Remastered, which is capable of using up to eight Joy-Cons for the Switch, eight Xbox Wireless Controllers for the Xbox One, four DualShock controllers for the PS4, and additional Bluetooth controllers for Microsoft Windows,[45] introduces Trance Vibration, a feature that enables the use of additional controllers in a single-player game.[45] According to Mizuguchi, the additional controllers provide players with a sense of synesthesia: players can place the controllers on their bodies to experience vibration feedback during gameplay.[46] The vibrations of the additional controllers are synchronized to the rhythm of the game's music.[46][47]

Soundtracks[edit]

Three soundtrack albums based on music from Lumines: Puzzle Fusion were produced. Takayuki Nakamura released the first soundtrack, titled Lumines Remixes on June 9, 2005, on his label Brainstorm.[48] The first disc of the two-disc set has 21 tracks and the second has 19 tracks.[48] The second soundtrack, which was distributed on January 23, 2008, is titled L.II remixes[49] and includes tracks from Lumines II and remixes of tracks from the original game.[50] The third album, which is titled Lumines Remastered Original Soundtrack,[c][51] was released digitally on June 26, 2018, as part of a limited-release bundle for PS4 and Steam versions of Lumines Remastered.[46][52] Limited Run Games made available a double LP version for a limited time on June 26, 2019, as part of a bundle with physical editions of the game for PS4 and Switch.[39]

Reception[edit]

Original release[edit]

Lumines: Puzzle Fusion received "generally favorable" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[54] Multiple reviewers praised its combination of music and visuals. GamePro complimented the combination of music and colors, calling it "a mini rave in your hands".[62] GameSpot praised the way the game's sound and visuals correspond to the actions performed.[5] PALGN commended the game's graphic design, saying the menu design and avatars make it distinct. Although PALGN's reviewer did not enjoy the game's music genre, the website still gave a positive review to its soundtrack.[70] Eurogamer deemed the audio superior to the visuals, praising the way the player's actions build the musical elements to a crescendo, and described it as "the real star of the show".[9] IGN gave an unenthusiastic response to the sound and visuals, saying they do not have enough interactivity to allow players to feel an impact.[3]

Reviewers gave the gameplay a positive reception.[2][5][60][70] Pocket Gamer complimented the single-player mode, comparing the quality of the game to class A drugs.[60] IGN praised the gameplay, noting they were attracted to the game design and addicted to unlocking background skins.[3] 1Up.com, GameSpot, and PALGN also used the word "addictive" to describe the gameplay.[2][5][70]

Lumines: Puzzle Fusion was frequently compared with other tile-matching video games by critics, particularly Tetris.[2][5][62] GamePro considered the game as addictive as Tetris and Bejeweled.[62] According to 1Up.com; "Q Entertainment has used the Tetris template to duplicate a lightning-in-a-bottle feeling equal in brilliance and addictiveness to the puzzle classic".[2] GameSpot praised Lumines: Puzzle Fusion as "the greatest Tetris-style puzzle game since Tetris itself".[5]

Later releases[edit]

The mobile phone port Lumines Mobile was also well received by critics.[13][58][66][69] IGN considered it better than the original version because of the new features.[66] 1Up.com, also praised the new features and considered it almost a sequel, and Eurogamer said the new features helped place it among the best mobile games.[58][13] GameDaily called it one of the best puzzle games ever made and said it almost perfectly complements the original.[69] Multiple reviewers responded negatively to the sound quality but most said the game's overall quality outweighed it.[13][58][66] GameDaily praised the music but criticized the way it operates independently of the gameplay.[69] Pocket Gamer criticized the on-screen visuals that obscure the background artwork and concluded the sound does not do justice to the Lumines concept.[61]

Lumines Plus for PS2 received "mixed or average" reviews according to Metacritic.[55] Game Informer said the visuals are less vibrant and noted five seconds of silence between level transitions; the magazine called it the least-impressive title in the Lumines series.[78] 1Up.com also criticized the intermittent silence between songs and expressed disappointment that songs from the original were missing. However, they praised the addition of skins from Lumines Live and Lumines II, calling it a "Lumines greatest hits".[57] IGN was disappointed by the absence of new features, and said the "Plus" moniker is misleading, and that they would have preferred it to have the animated backgrounds and game modes introduced in Lumines II.[65] Eurogamer criticized the absence of songs from the original and said the new track selections make the game too arduous to play.[34] GameSpot also noted the missing tracks but said the remaining Japanese tracks compensate for their absence.[59] GamePro did not deem the game fun and said the music distracts from the gameplay.[63]

When reviewing Lumines Remastered, critics reacted positively.[44][74][7][77] PCMag complimented the game and said it is as addictive and hypnotic as the original.[7] Nintendo World Report noted the Trance Vibration feature working as advertised and called it "genius".[44] Hardcore Gamer praised the music as enjoyable.[45] GameSpot noted the Nintendo Switch version of the game looks better than prior handheld releases due to its cleaner animation but said it is not the best-looking game in the series.[74] Eurogamer called the Switch version "euphoric", comparing the rumble feature to Mizuguchi's previous endeavor with Rez's trance vibrator.[77] Nintendo Life said the songs vary in quality but that each is catchy in its own way. The reviewer also complimented the visuals for being vibrant and full of animation without detracting from the gameplay.[14] Despite having an overall positive response, some reviewers were disappointed in the absence of introducing an online multiplayer feature.[14][44][45][74][7]

Sales and awards[edit]

Lumines: Puzzle Fusion won several awards, including the 2005 Spike TV Video Game Award for Best Handheld Game, GameSpot's 2005 PSP Game Of The Year, and Electronic Gaming Monthly's 2005 Handheld Game Of The Year.[79][80][81] IGN awarded the game for Best Puzzle,[82] Best Artistic Design,[83] and Best Original Score.[84] It was awarded for Best Audio at the 4th Annual G.A.N.G. Awards.[85] Lumines: Puzzle Fusion also appeared on Game Informer's "Top 50 Games of 2005" list" and [86] Play ranked it the second-best PSP game in its "2005 Year in Review".[87] GamesRadar+ ranked the game as the sixth-best launch game of all time and Paste ranked it 12th-best.[88][89] The mobile phone version was nominated for the Edge mobile awards at the 2006 Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival.[90]

As of 2005, Lumines: Puzzle Fusion had sold 180,000 units in Europe, 300,000 in North America, and 70,000 in Japan, totaling over half a million sales.[91] On June 23, 2007, hackers discovered a bug within the PSP which allowed them to install any program onto the device, including homebrew software. This was accomplished through a combination of launching the Lumines game and an external program saved into PSP's memory stick.[92] The reveal of the bug resulted in Amazon sales of the game to increase by 5,900% within 24 hours.[93] Sony released an update to prevent the exploit six days after its discovery.[94]

Sequels and follow-ups[edit]

Lumines: Puzzle Fusion was followed by multiple spin-offs and sequels, becoming the first entry in the Lumines series. The first set of sequels, Lumines II and Lumines Live!, were developed at the same time.[95] Lumines Live! introduces Mission Mode, Skin Edit mode, and an online multiplayer feature.[37] It was released digitally on Xbox 360 via Xbox Live; its distribution began in Europe on October 18, 2006.[96][97] Lumines II includes the new features introduced in Lumines Live!, Sequencer mode, and music videos from Black Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, and Hoobastank. It was made available for the PSP in North America on November 6, 2006.[98]

The games were followed by Lumines Supernova, which adds a Dig Down mode but excludes online multiplayer. This game was released for PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Network on December 18, 2008.[99] An iOS game called Lumines: Touch Fusion was made for touch controls; it has all of the features of the original except for the Versus modes. It was released on August 27, 2009.[100] A follow-up called Lumines: Electronic Symphony was released on the PlayStation Vita in Japan on April 19, 2012. This version renames some of the modes and adds new features.[101] The latest entry in the series, titled Lumines: Puzzle & Music, was released on July 19, 2016, for iOS and Android.[102]

References[edit]

Translation
  1. ^ Japanese: ルミネス −音と光の電飾パズル−, Hepburn: Ruminesu − Oto to Hikari no Denshoku Pazuru −, Lumines: Sound and Light Illuminating Puzzle
  2. ^ ルミネス リマスター, Ruminesu Rimasutā
  3. ^ ルミネス リマスター オリジナルサウンドトラック, Ruminesu Rimasutā Orijinaru Saundotorakku
Bibliography
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External links[edit]