Lumines: Puzzle Fusion blends rhythm and music with a simple, but satisfying puzzle mechanic to create one of the best chill-out games of all time. It’s one of the few games that I feel no sense of frustration with when I hit a game over. Listening to the amazing music and experiencing the catharsis of matching four colored blocks together and making them disappear is enough reward for me.
Lumines holds a special place in my heart. I didn’t play it when it first released. Instead, I discovered it years later during a particularly hard time in my life. I spent hours during that period playing Lumines Plus on PS2, and I’d like to think that the sense of calm I got from being able to tune out and focus on the music and blocks kept me from falling apart.
Lumines Remastered Review: Bringing it Back
Some games don’t need much of an update to stay relevant, and Lumines: Puzzle Fusion is one of them. However, while Lumines‘ gameplay and sounds are still dynamite, the hardware that runs it is getting long in the tooth. The PSP and PS2 haven’t been supported in years, and the game deserved a facelift and an opportunity to shine on current consoles. Fortunately, series creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi tasked his studio Enhance Games to polish the original Lumines and bring it to PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Windows. The same company that did Rez: Infinite, Resonair Studios, developed the remaster and they did just as good a job bringing Lumines Remastered up to date as they did with the other Mizuguchi title.
Even though Lumines Remastered is coming to Xbox One, PS4, and PC, it’s the release of the Switch that instigated the development of the game. Mizuguchi cited the portable nature of the console (like the PSP) and HD rumble as the two things that really inspired him to begin development of the remaster. Luckily, we were able to review that version of the game, and even though it’s 13 years after the game was first released in North America, it feels as innovative and fresh with a Switch in your hands as it did when it came out on PSP.
Lumines Remastered Review: Blocks on Blocks
The core gameplay loop of Lumines Remastered is straightforward. Four small squares fall from the top of the screen in a square-shaped group of four. There are two colors that blocks can be, and if you match four together in a square, they disappear when the timeline passes over them. The game ends when the blocks reach the top of the screen. You can rotate the blocks any way you want before they touch another block or the bottom of the playing field. It’s all sort of a streamlined version of Tetris.
The gameplay would be fun, but mostly forgettable if it weren’t for the presentation. As you play along the playfield will transition through “skins.” Each skin has its own animated background and music, and it changes both the style of the blocks and the sounds they make when in play. This turns the whole experience from just a regular puzzle game into a pseudo-rhythm game. The timeline makes a pass over the field every 16 measures, so your progress is inevitably tied to the beat of the music.
Lumines Remastered Review: Pop, Lock, and Drop It
Each field has been completely redrawn for Lumines Remastered and pops like never before. I never realized just what pleasure for the eyes the game could be until I saw it at 1080p on the Switch. Even in portable mode on the smaller screen, it looks fluid and fantastic, and it sounds better than ever too. The tracks in the original Lumines were downsampled to 32 KHz, but for Lumines Remastered series composer Takayuki Nakamura provided the original masters of the tracks which were originally composed at 44 KHz. The game sounded terrific on the PSP, but it sounds even better now, and the bump in audio fidelity is as appreciated as the bump in visual quality.
If there’s one disappointment I have with Lumines Remastered, it’s the lack of content from other entries in the series. The game is exactly what it says on the package, Lumines: Puzzle Fusion remastered for HD. This means you get no more and no less than the content present in the original game. I would have liked to see songs from Lumines II, Electronic Symphony, Puzzle & Music, and other entries come to this game. Perhaps we’ll see a remaster of those or DLC in the future, but for now, the tracks are limited to what you got in the first Lumines game.
One thing that somewhat makes up for the absence of music from the rest of the series though is the introduction of a few new features. On the Switch the HD rumble really makes you feel the music in a way that wasn’t possible on any other Lumines title. Not a ton of games have made great use of the Switch’s HD rumble, but when you first play Lumines Remastered, the experience is somewhat jarring. Also new is the ability to shuffle skins (previously only available in Lumines Live!) so that you can play a custom playlist of your favorite songs. There’s also online leaderboards and local 2-player versus mode to round out the package.
Lumines Remastered Review: A Must-Have for Practically Everyone
Lumines is an amazing series, and Lumines Remastered is a great way to introduce a new audience to the franchise. I sincerely hope that this release will kickstart the series again and we’ll get to see a new Lumines as a follow-up. In a climate that’s increasingly more accepting to smaller titles with flair and class, Lumines has never been more relevant, and with a fresh coat of paint, the game feels as though it could be brand new instead of 13 years old.
If you’re a fan of puzzle games, rhythm games, or just chilling out with a game that gives more than it demands, I heartily recommend Lumines Remastered. It’s a great addition to the Switch library and an excellent starting point for those who have never experienced the franchise before. For those who are longtime fans, it’s a love song to the original and the definitive form of the first Lumines title.