I don’t come to Game Developers Conference expecting to ever relax, but I somehow found an oasis at Nintendo’s indie game hands-on event. And forgive me if this part sounds weird, but: It was a combination of two ... inventively placed Joy-Con controllers and a strong rumble feature that gave me both the mental and physical peace every player needs, at GDC or otherwise.
I know where your mind wants to go when “rumble” and “physical” are so close together, but let me stop you before it does. At the Nindies showcase, I checked out Lumines — or rather, Lumines Remastered, the upcoming redux of the beloved 2004 game. If you’ve played it on PlayStation Portable, you know the drill: Director Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Rez) combined his sweet music taste with a simple puzzle board of falling blocks.
Normally, these Tetris-like games drive me up the wall; I’m chill enough that I don’t scream at the screen when I lose or die or fail ... in public. But you best believe that filling up a board that I felt confident about clearing can make me throw a controller a few feet.
Maybe that’s why developer Resonair introduced a small but extremely important new feature, single-handedly ensuring I can play Lumines without fear of popping a blood vessel. Much like Rez before it, Lumines now has “trance vibration,” which uses the Joy-Con’s HD rumble feature to let you literally feel the rhythm. (The feature is available for the PlayStation 4 version of the game as well, by the way, minus the crucial Joy-Con bit.)
When I sat down for my demo, I was asked if I was comfortable wearing a fitness band with the controllers attached to it around my legs. I’m so sorry I don’t have a picture for you — it was covert under my skirt — so I’ll do my best to paint one. Imagine a tight, pocketed fitness band with a Joy-Con in each pocket. And it’s wrapped around your legs. And the Joy-Cons are pressing against your thighs.
OK. Moving on. I told the PR running the Lumines area that I was game.
“I mean,” I began, curious if not outright confused, “why not?” And so there I sat, hoping not to embarrass myself with my tacitly competitive spirit, with my legs strapped to another pair of controllers.
I’m a big fan of rumble features, but oh boy. You have not lived until you felt a rumble feature like this. It’s like going to a well-lit club where you’re the only one there, and yeah, you’re playing a video game, and that’s kind of weird, but for some reason nothing about this is pitiful — it’s a supremely chill-ass solo hang.
The vibrations are perfectly timed to the beat of the music and the blocks, so Lumines Remastered becomes a physically sensational experience. It’s not intense, which is important; instead of heightening any puzzle-gaming anxiety I have, the trance vibration feature calmed me way down. So what if I kept ruining my chance to have a perfect set of four blocks, clearing my board in the process? I was there to have a good time. I was there to vibe. I was there to, of all things, relax.
This feature is dependent on you having an extra pair of Joy-Cons around to work. I don’t, but I may have to invest. Consider Lumines Remastered the most active massage ever, or an unlicensed physical therapy appointment. I wish I could still feel that beat in my legs. I’ll wait impatiently for its launch this spring.
Update: Lumines Remastered will launch on Nintendo Switch — and PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One — June 26, Sega announced.