Lumines: Puzzle Fusion
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion[a] is a 2004 puzzle game developed by Q Entertainment. It was published for PlayStation Portable (PSP) by Bandai in Japan and internationally by Ubisoft. Players rotate and drop blocks containing random tiles of two colors so they make filled rectangular shapes of the same color on the playing field. As players progress through the game it transitions between skins, affecting the colors and music.
Lumines was the debut work of video game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi following his departure from Sega. Mizuguchi originally wanted to create a Tetris game with music but due to licensing issues he was unable to and instead created Lumines. Mizuguchi was inspired by the PSP, one of the few handhelds on the market that had a headphone jack. After listening to one of Mondo Grosso's songs, he requested songs to be included in the game and sequenced into a theme of a night-long party. The game was first released as a launch title for PSP in Japan in December 2004, in North America in March 2005, and Europe in September 2005.
The game received positive reviews upon release with critics praising it for integrating gameplay and music, and many stated it being addicting to play. The game was nominated and awarded "Best Handheld Game of 2005" by multiple outlets. Multiple versions of the game were made, including ports for mobile phone, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, and a high-definition remaster for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Windows. The game led to numerous spin-offs and sequels for multiple platforms, becoming the first entry of a series.
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion is a tile-matching video game similar to Columns and Tetris. The playing field consists of a 16×10 grid. A sequence of 2×2 blocks varying between two colors fall from the top of the playing field. When part of a falling block hits an obstruction, the remaining portion divides and continues to fall. A square is created when a group of 2×2 blocks of the same color is created on the playing field. A vertical time line that sweeps through the playing field from left to right clears any completed squares it touches. Points are awarded to players for any squares erased. If the square is created in the middle of the time line, only half of the square is taken and no points are awarded.
The objective is to rotate and align the blocks to create squares of the same color. Players earn increasing score multipliers by repeatedly clearing squares on consecutive time line sweeps. Bonuses are earned by reducing remaining tiles to a single color or by removing inactive tiles from the screen. Blocks with gems are known as "special blocks"; if these are used to create squares, they allow adjacent blocks of the same color to be eliminated by the time line. Squares of the same color can be grouped to create overlapping squares. Players lose the game when the blocks pile up to the top of the grid. The game ends when the blocks reach the top of the screen.
Each stage has a skin that affects the background's appearance, the blocks' color scheme, music track, and sound effects. Each skin also changes the rate at which the time line crosses the screen because it moves in time with the music. Progressing through the game modes unlocks skins, which can affect the gameplay; fast tempos make it more difficult to create large combos, and slow tempos may cause the playing field to fill faster while players wait for the time line to sweep across the screen.
There are four modes in the game: Challenge, Time Attack, Puzzle, and Vs mode. Challenge Mode cycles through skins in a fixed order of increasing difficulty. The maximum score in Challenge Mode is 999,999 points. Time Attack games give players a limited time to clear as many blocks as possible. Puzzle mode challenges players to create pictures using blocks In Vs mode, players battle against A.I. opponents or other players using their wireless connections. Vs mode begins with the playing field divided in half; the goal is to clear successive squares to reduce the opposing player's space.
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion was the first game developed by Q Entertainment, a company founded by designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi following his departure from Sega. The game's subtitle "Puzzle Fusion" reflects that the game's music is essential to the game, which was developed in a year by a staff of four people. Mizuguchi was inspired by the PSP when he first learned about the technology. He described the PSP as an "interactive Walkman" and "Dream Machine" because it was one of the few handheld video game consoles with a headphone jack, allowing it to be played with high-quality sound anywhere. After choosing to develop games for the PSP, Mizuguchi was inspired to make a puzzle game with music. Mizuguchi wanted to develop a challenging, audio-visual puzzle game that was less daunting to players than his previous titles Rez and Space Channel 5 to attract casual players. Originally, Mizuguchi wanted to make a Tetris game with music but issues including licensing meant it was not possible at the time and the concept of Lumines was used instead.
A prototype was initially developed on a PC with the specifications of the PSP in mind. Takayuki Nakamura composed music and Katsumi Yokota worked on music and graphics. During the development of the prototype, Yokota was mainly a graphic designer and illustrator and considered himself an amateur music composer. Yokota purchased several PC software packages including Fruity Loops and Cubase, and used them to assemble loops of electronic music. Yokota learned about using sound effects while working on Rez, which led him to focus on making music for the prototype. Yokota experimentally constructed a rhythm beat-by-beat in time with the movement of the game's timeline bar. He said the game could be paced using the unbroken flow of the timeline.
Due to the constraints of the PSP's sound system, Yokota initially thought the game would be limited to dance and techno music, and had doubts about the project because of the lack of musical variation. Nakamura demonstrated solutions to the problem because he was capable of constructing a rich variety of songs built on a deep understanding of the game design. The music and skins were developed simultaneously and the music had to be completed before the skins were finalized. Yokota used Adobe Photoshop to produce the graphics. Both Nakamura and Yokota swapped ideas to make the necessary adjustments to the development. The Versus mode's music tracks "The SPY loves me" and "Japanese Form" were mainly influenced by Yokota's design. Yokota implemented strict rules for the songs to follow the 4
4 time signature, except for the song "Big Elpaso". This was because the playing field is divided into 16 columns and the timeline needed to match the music's tempo and be in synchronization with the beat. The use of 4
4 time signature allows sixteen eighth-notes to correspond to two bars.
During the music production, Mizuguchi felt something was missing from the soundtrack and looked for external music that already exists. Mizuguchi discovered "Shinin'" by Shinichi Osawa (Mondo Grosso) during a summer camping trip in Okinawa and wanted to incorporate it as the opening song for the game. Mizuguchi requested from Osawa four tracks that would be sequenced with the theme of a party beginning at sunset and ending at sunrise. The songs Osawa contributed to are "Shinin'", "Shake Ya Body", "I Hear the Music in my Soul", and "Lights" as the ending track. Mizuguchi recalls hearing the song Shinin while looking at the stars; it inspired him to ask Yokota to use the theme of a show with music and visuals.
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion was released in Japan on December 12, 2004, as a launch title for the PlayStation Portable. It was later released in North America on March 23, 2005, and in Europe on September 1, 2005. Several ports were released to multiple platforms, each with its own revisions. In September 2005, mobile game maker Gameloft announced it would take both Meteos and Lumines to cell phones. Lumines Mobile was released in North America on March 12, 2006, and in Europe on May 30, 2006. The mobile version contains Single Skin mode and Puzzle mode from the original version and introduces Arcade mode, which consists of 20 stages and introduces new blocks that can cause explosions and give additional bonus points. After a set number of stages are cleared, players can access Boss levels that are similar to "Vs. CPU" on the PSP.
A port for the PlayStation 2 was published by Buena Vista Games with the title Lumines Plus in North America on February 27, 2007, and in Europe on March 9, 2007. The PlayStation 2 version includes nine songs from Lumines II but omits Shake Ya Body, I hear the Music in my Soul, and Lights from the original game. A version for Windows was released on November 28, 2007, via WildTangent and on April 18, 2008, via Steam's network. The WildTangent and Steam versions include a mission mode and skin edit mode that was introduced in Lumines Live! and the Steam version has 21 unlockable skins and a portion of Time Attack, Puzzles, and Missions. The Steam version also released an "Advance" pack on the same day of the base game that contains 21 additional skins, 70 puzzles, and 35 missions.
In March 2018, Enhance Games, the studio founded by Lumines: Puzzle Fusion producer Mizuguchi, announced Lumines Remastered[b] for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One for release in June 2018. The new game was developed by Japanese studio Resonair and was released worldwide on June 26, 2018. Lumines Remastered has enhanced visuals and support for high-resolution systems. It includes the original high-bitrate music files that were composed by Nakamura on the PC that was originally downsampled for the PSP and other releases. In addition, the visual effects were remade and certain blocks were redesigned to support high definition resolution. It's due to these updates that the director of the game, Eiichiro Ishige, considers the game more of a remake more than a remaster.
Lumines Remastered features all of the game modes and skins from the original, and modes that were introduced in sequels and spin-offs. It allows up to three controllers to be connected in a single-player game and three pairs of Joy-cons. Tetsuya Mizuguchi introduced this feature so players can use the additional Joy-cons on their shoulders and below their feet. The decision to bring back Lumines was due to the Switch's features, specifically the HD Rumble feature of the Joy-Con; Mizuguchi felt it was appropriate to test Lumines with this haptic gameplay feature.
Three soundtrack albums were released for the game. The first soundtrack titled Lumines Remixes was released on June 9, 2005, by Takayuki Nakamura on his Brainstorm label. The first disc of the two-disc set has 21 tracks and the second has 19 tracks. The second soundtrack, which was released on December 31, 2007, is titled "L.II remixes". L.II remixes include tracks from Lumines II and the remix tracks of the original game. The third album was released on June 26, 2018, and is titled Lumines Remastered Official Soundtrack[c]. It was originally released as part of a digital deluxe bundle for PS4 and the Steam version of Lumines Remastered and was later released separately on July 10, 2018. This version contains 20 tracks.
|Hardcore Gamer||4.5/5 (PC)|
|Nintendo Life||9/10 (Switch)|
|OPM (UK)||8/10 (PS4)|
|PC Gamer (US)||85/100 (PC)|
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion received positive reviews from critics with an average score of 89% from over 55 reviews on Metacritic, Multiple reviewers praised it for its combination of music and visuals and was described the game as addicting.
IGN praised their experience, describing it under four stages: attraction to the game design; addiction to unlocking background skins; hunger for reaching the skins previously unlocked; and Zen. GamePro also complimented the combination of music and colors, and described it as "a mini rave in your hands". PALGN praised the visuals and audio presentation and noted that if they were removed, it wouldn't be half the game it currently is. Eurogamer also praised the visuals and audio but thought the audio was more superior, calling it "the real star of the show" due to additional beats implemented in the gameplay. Pocket Gamer complimented the single-player mode, stating "it's so good it's the closest thing we hope you ever get to class A drugs".
The game was recurrently compared to other tile-matching video games by reviewers with Tetris being the most common. GamePro stated it reaches the rank of Tetris and Bejeweled. Jeremy Parish from 1UP.com made similar comparisons to Tetris, 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". GameSpot called it "the greatest Tetris-style puzzle game since Tetris itself", praising its sound and presentation. When reviewing the PS2 version, GamePro did not find the game as addictive as Tetris. When reviewing the mobile version, Pocket Gamer stated PileUp! was more entertaining compared to the mobile phone version.
The mobile phone version was also well-received by critics. Many reviewers complimented the new features introduced. IGN considered it better than the original version because of them. 1UP.com also complimented the new features, almost considering it a sequel. Eurogamer praised the game because of them, stating they helped place the game among the top ranks of mobile games. GameDaily praised the mobile version, calling it one of the best puzzle games ever made that almost perfectly complements the original. Common critique for the mobile version was the lower quality of sound but most reviewers noted the overall quality outweighed it. GameDaily praised the music but criticized the way it operates independently of the gameplay. Pocket Gamer criticized the game's reduced sound stating, "It's not bad as far as mobile phone game sound goes, but it's composed of the same chirping tones as you'd hear anywhere and doesn't do the Lumines concept justice."
Reviews of Lumines Plus for PlayStation 2 were less favorable than those of the PSP and mobile phone counterparts. Game Informer said the graphics are less vibrant and criticized a five-second silence between level transitions, and calling it the least impressive title in the series. IGN was disappointed with the lack of new features and believed the "Plus" moniker did not describe the game's content. IGN further elaborated they would have preferred it to have animated backgrounds and game modes previously introduced in Lumines II. Eurogamer also noted the lack of features introduced in Lumines II but couldn't fault the game as it was intended to be a port of the original, and not the sequel. Instead, Eurogamer was more critical of the missing soundtracks from the original, and new tracks making the game too long to play. GameSpot, however, did not consider the missing tracks a complete loss and recommended the game for newcomers but not for those who already played previous titles.
When reviewing Lumines Remastered, critics reacted positively to the game. Hardcore Gamer stated, "The game simply puts players into a spell thanks to engaging gameplay, a killer soundtrack, and hypnotic visuals". GameSpot praised the improved visuals, music, and the new modes, but was disappointed with the lack of features that were introduced in previous Lumines titles. Nintendo Life complimented the music, stating; "While not every track on here is necessarily a hit, they’re all catchy in their own way, and go a long way towards carving out the distinct identity that Lumines is known for". Nintendo Life also complimented the visuals for being vibrant and full of animation without detracting from the gameplay. Eurogamer praised the Nintendo Switch version, stating, "Lumines Remastered is every bit as euphoric, the immersion that's unique to handhelds ensuring that this version is every bit as well matched to its hardware as the PSP original". Despite being well-received, a common criticism from reviewers was the lack of an online multiplayer.
Sales and awards
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion won several awards, including the 2005 Spike TV Video Game Awards for Best Handheld Game, GameSpot's 2005 PSP Game Of The Year, Electronic Gaming Monthly's 2005 Handheld Game Of The Year, Game Informer's "Top 50 Games of 2005" list. The mobile phone version was nominated for the Edge mobile awards at the 2006 Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival. Play ranked it the second-best PSP game in its "2005 Year in Review". GamesRadar+ ranked the game sixth-best launch game of all time.
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. In 2007, an exploit was discovered that allowed for custom firmware to be installed, causing sales of the game to increase by 6,000%.
Sequels and follow-ups
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion was followed by several sequels, becoming the first game in the Lumines series. The first sequels are Lumines II and Lumines Live! for the PSP and Xbox 360 respectively, and were developed at the same time. Both offer the same new modes. Lumines II specifically also offers pre-existing videos from famous music artists such as Black-eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, and Hoobastank and a Sequencer mode. Lumines Live! and Lumines II were released in Europe on October 18, 2006, and in North America on November 6, 2006, respectively. The games were followed up with Lumines Supernova, which adds a new Dig Down mode but removes the online multiplayer feature. This game was released for PlayStation 3 via PlayStation Network on December 18, 2008.
Another sequel titled Lumines: Touch Fusion was made for iOS devices; this game has all of the features of the original except for the VS modes, and players use touch controls to move and rotate blocks. It was released on August 27, 2009. The following sequel titled 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. The latest entry in the series, titled Lumines: Puzzle & Music, was released on July 19, 2016, for iOS and Android.
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