shake ya body shake ya body down to the ground
There’s something latently addicting about level-based puzzle games. Surviving as long as you can in a game like Tetris is always a rush, but when you add pulse-pumping music to that equation, the thrill is amplified. An example of this is Lumines, a puzzle game based on the fusion of gameplay and music that launched back in 2005 for the PlayStation Portable. Since then, the Lumines series has had a smattering a sequels and ports, but never a definitive version for all platforms.
Until now! Lumines Remastered, from developer Resonair and publisher Enhance, is a shining remaster of the PSP classic of all modern consoles, but the title shines brightest on the Nintendo Switch.
In Lumines, 2×2 blocks composed of two different colors fall down onto a wide grid. The player needs to rotate these blocks so that the colors in the blocks matches squares formed at the bottom of the grid. When you match squares, they will be cleared once the “Time Line,” traveling left to right, passes through the grid. The player must clear as many squares as they can before the blocks fill up the entire grid, and it’s game over.
This should all sound like pretty standard puzzle game-fair, but what makes these concepts so compelling in Lumines is the music. As you play each level, you are accompanied by a bumping tune with a rhythm that will often match the speed of the Time Line, as well as catchy sound effects when you rotate a block. The music in Lumines elevates the simple puzzle-gameplay into a fresh realm of sound and shapes that keeps the player engaged, alert, and at the very least bobbing their head.
Lumines Remastered is a remaster of the original PSP classic Lumines: Puzzle Fusion. The core game remains intact with more lively and reworked menus, alongside a coat of HD polish to the grid backgrounds and blocks, aka skins.
This also means the main modes, Challenge, Time Attack, Puzzle, Mission, VS CPU, 2P Battle, return as well. You’ll be spending most of your time in Challenge mode, where you’re tasked with surviving 100 levels. This is really the meat of the game, but the other modes are a blast too. VS CPU in particular is one of my favorites, and like Time Attack or Puzzle mode, it gets extremely challenging as it goes on.
As a remaster, the game is fairly straightforward, nothing too noteworthy as high-definition ports go, but where Lumines Remastered belongs, and where it fits best, is the Nintendo Switch.
The Switch port of Lumines Remastered takes advantage of the HD Rumble inside the console’s Joy Con controllers, adding a “trace vibration” that bumps along with the rhythm of the music played in each skin. This vibration, especially in handheld mode, adds a level of immersion that sucks you in hands first. It’s not long before your whole body is tickled, and moving/grooving alongside the music. It’s a sensation that really needs to be felt to understood, and it can be adjusted in the game’s option menu if it’s too much.
The other key advantage of the Switch version is handheld mode. Lumines is meant to be played on the go, and I can’t image playing it any other way. Just like Tetris on the original Game Boy, puzzle games you can take with you and play wherever are the best kind, and option to play Remastered on your TV in docked mode, if desired, is the best of both worlds.
The biggest detriment to Lumines Remastered (especially on Switch) is its load times. The more than a handful of seconds you have to wait between starting the game up or entering Challenge mode can really take some momentum away, and at worst, they made me think of the Lumines II UMD swirling around in my PSP. Luckily you don’t have to worry about that awful hissing noise when playing on the Switch though. As of patch 1.1.1, load times have been optimized for the Switch, which is great, but they’re still to be desired.
Years after it’s initial release, Lumines remains one of the most unique and most addicting puzzle games of all time. With HD Rumble and the latent portability of the Switch, this remaster will absolutely make you shake your body down to the ground.
Lumines Remastered is available for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Review copy for the Nintendo Switch provided by Enhance.