Lumines: Puzzle Fusion
|Lumines: Puzzle Fusion|
Bandai (PSP, JP)
Ubisoft (PSP, NA/EU)
WildTangent (Microsoft Windows, WW)
Buena Vista Games (PS2, NA/EU)
|Platform(s)||Original: PlayStation Portable, Microsoft Windows|
Remastered: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion (ルミネス −音と光の電飾パズル− Ruminesu − Oto to Hikari no Denshoku Pazuru −) 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. It later received a port to Microsoft Windows released first in December 2007.
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion is a block-dropping game similar to Tetris, where the player using 2x2 tetrominos containing random tiles of two different colors attempts to make completely filled rectangular shapes of the same color on the playing field, with larger shapes earning more points. The game's mechanics are tied heavily to the music played over the game, as blocks are only scored and cleared after a certain number of measures in the music have past. As the player progresses through the game, the game transitions between different skins that affect the colors and music.
The game has received a number of ports, maintaining the core features but adding additional music and skins to the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 consoles as well as an iOS version. A remastered version of the original game was released on June 26, 2018 for Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One platforms.
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion is a block-dropping game that may seem at first to be similar to Columns and Tetris. The game is made up of a 16x10 grid playing field. A sequence of 2x2 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 will split off and continue to fall. A vertical Time Line sweeps through the playing field from left to right. When a group of 2x2 blocks of the same color is created on the playing field, it creates a "colored square". When the Time Line passes through it, the colored square will disappear and points are added to the player's overall score. If the colored square is created in the middle of the Time Line, the Time Line will only take half of the colored square and no points will be awarded. Certain blocks with gems are known as "special blocks" and if are used to create colored squares, they will allow all individual adjacent blocks of the same color to be eliminate by the Time Line.
The game is played in different skins. Skins affect the appearance of the board, the color scheme of the blocks, and contain a different music track and sound effects. Each skin also changes the rate at which the Time Line moves across the screen due to the Time Line moving in time with the music. Skins are unlocked by progressing through the different game modes. 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 Time Line to sweep across.
The objective is to rotate and align the blocks in such a way as to create colored squares. Increasing score multipliers are earned by repeatedly clearing squares on consecutive Time Line 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. Multiple colored squares of the same color can be shared between a single geometric shape. 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 colored squares. The player loses when the blocks pile up to the top of the grid.
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 (With Exception with "Clear All", Instead and all colored squares needs be placed and then make them disappear from board) 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.
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion was the first game developed by Q Entertainment and was a launch title for the PlayStation Portable. The game was developed with an estimated amount of 4 or 5 people over the course of 1 year. Mizuguchi was inspired by the PSP when he first learned about the technology. He described the PlayStation Portable as an "interactive Walkman" and "Dream machine" due to the system being one of the few video game handheld consoles with a headphone jack, allowing the game to be played at any time, any location, and any style with good sound. After choosing the PSP as the next console to work with, Mizuguchi was inspired to make a puzzle game with music. Mizuguchi stated he wanted it to be a audio-visual puzzle game for the challenge, but he also wanted to make something that was less daunting to players compared to his previous titles Rez or Space Channel 5, so that it would attract casual players. Originally, Mizuguchi wanted to make a Tetris game with music but due various issues including licensing, it wasn't possible at the time and the concept of Lumines was used instead. The game's subtitle "Puzzle Fusion" reflected that the game's music was essential to the game itself.
Lumines prototype was initially developed on the PC with the specs of the PSP in mind. Music was composed by Takayuki Nakamura and Katsumi Yokota worked on both music and graphics. During the development of the prototype, Yokota was primarily a graphic designer and illustrator and considered himself an amateur when it came to music composition. Yokota purchased several PC software including Fruity Loops and Cubase and used it to piece together loops of electronic music. Yokota's learned a few things about using sound effects successfully from previous contributions to Rez, which led him to focused on constructing music to supplement the sound effects during the development of the prototype. Yokota stated he was experimenting with constructing a rhythm beat by beat in time with the movement of the "timeline" bar sweeping left to right at the top of the screen. He further elaborated that the game could be paced by the unbroken flow of this timeline.
Due to the constraints of the sound system, Yokota initially thought the game would be limited to dance and techno music and had doubts on the project because of the lack of musical variation. Nakamura was able to demonstrate solutions to the problem due to being capable of constructing 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 would exchange ideas in order to make the necessary adjustments on both sides of the development. When it came to Versus mode, the audio tracks "The SPY loves me" and "Japanese Form" were mainly influenced by the overall design that Yokota had envisioned.
Yokota also implemented strict rules for the songs to follow 4
4 time signature, with the exception of "Big Elpaso" song. This was due to the playing field being divided into 16 rows, and the Time Line needing to match the tempo of the music and in sync with the beat. By using 4
4 time signature, it allows a total of sixteen eighth-notes to correspond to two bars precisely.
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 some skins and music tracks from Lumines II, although at the same time omitting Shake Ya Body, I hear the Music in my Soul and Lights 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.
A soundtrack titled Lumines Remixes was released by Takayuki Nakamura under his Brainstorm label on June 9, 2005. The soundtrack is made up of two discs. The first discs has a total of 21 tracks and the second disc has a total of 19 tracks. With a grand total of 40 tracks altogether. 
In March 2018, Enhance Games, the studio founded by Lumines: Puzzle Fusion producer Mizuguchi, announced Lumines Remastered for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One for release in June 2018; the game is being developed by Japanese studio Resonair. The game will feature enhanced visuals and support for higher resolution systems. The game will also use the original higher bitrate music files composed by Nakamura on the PC, which had to be downsampled for the PSP and other releases. 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 appropriate to see how Lumines would play with this haptic gameplay feature.
Lumines received positive reviews, garnering an average score of 89% from over 55 reviews on Metacritic and a score of 89.93% 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."
The game won several awards including, 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.
As of October 11, 2005, Lumines: Puzzle Fusion 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 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. This resulted in a surge of popularity and nearly a 6000% increase in sales on Amazon alone.
Sequels and follow-ups
Lumines: Puzzle Fusion was followed by several sequels, becoming the first game in the Lumines series. The first two sequels are Lumines II and Lumines Live! for the PSP and Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade respectively and were developed at the same time. Both offer the same new modes: Skin edit mode, Mission mode, and Sequencer. Lumines II specifically also offers pre-existing videos from famous music artist such as Black-eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, and Hoobastank. Lumines II and Lumines Live! were released in Japan February 15, 2007 and on October 18, 2006 respectively. Those two were later followed up by Lumines Supernova which offers the same new modes the previous titles have and adds a new Dig Down mode, however removes the online multiplayer feature. This game was released on PlayStation 3 via PlayStation Network in December 18, 2008. Another sequel was made for the iOS and Android devices titled, Lumines: Touch Fusion. This features all of the features of the original except for the VS modes and uses touch controls to move and rotate blocks. It was released August 27, 2009. The following sequel titled, Lumines: Electronic Symphony was released on the PlayStation Vita in Japan April 19, 2012. This version renames Challenge Mode into Voyage, Time Attack into Stopwatch, and adds new features such as World Block where players can work together via online to erase the World block. Another sequel for iOS and Android titled, Lumines: Puzzle & Music was released on July 19, 2016.
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