Square two-by-two blocks with differing arrangements of two colors fall from the sky, and you have to spin them to the right or left in order to match up four or more blocks of the same color. These matched squares and rectangles will disappear when touched by a vertical line that sweeps from the left to the right, and then repeats the motion.
That’s Lumines, a classic game series that began on the PlayStation Portable in 2004.
The games have since spread across dang near every platform and a few wrinkles here and there have been added or taken away, but the basic formula tends to remain the same. The design may sound bland on paper — and it probably would have been if it fell from the hands of another developer — but Q Entertainment heaped style on the game and matched the lush visuals and versatile soundtrack with the rhythm of world itself. The result is a game that feels almost like Tetris, if Tetris were to DJ its own tracks for you.
Lumines Remastered is a collection of over 40 skins from the history of the series — none of them are new, sadly — and all the basic game modes you’d want. You can see how many squares you can clear in a set amount of time, play against a friend locally or solve a series of puzzles. Or you can just try to survive a set series of skins, or a random mix. It’s a solid, but not overwhelming collection of things to do.
Each skin has its own song and visual style, and they’re all interesting, even if a few are designed to be discordant or even distracting. Some of them feel blissful, others may put your teeth on edge. The skins transition gracefully from one to the next, and the tempo of each song controls how quickly the vertical bar slides across the screen. You’ll be playing fast songs differently than slow songs, and keeping track of where the bar is and when it will knock out your squares is essential if you want to pull off the biggest combos.
This $14.99 release isn’t a huge, encyclopedic collection of Lumines content, and the main draw is the portability of the Switch or the 4K visual updates on the rest of the consoles and PC. It seems strange to hope for DLC, but the price of Lumines Remastered is fair for the content included, but I would gladly pay for extra packs of skins.
The only real negative here is the amount of slowdown I noticed on the Switch version of the game; you may notice a bit of sludge as certain skins shift into each other, or when there are a lot of effects on the screen. It’s not horrible, and it’s rare enough that it doesn’t ruin the game, but the interconnected nature of the visuals, music and sound effects make any and all lag stand out. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s disappointing in a game that relies so heavily on rhythm and timing.
But the beauty of Lumines is still here, and it’s still something to behold. This is a game that grabs you and holds you, and it’s simple to get lost in the often sublime mixture of sights and sounds. Be sure to turn the rumble on the setting that allows haptic feedback on as many parts of the game as possible; adding the sense of touch to the list of things that work together so perfectly. It’s like bottling a bit of harmony and keeping it on your pocket.
You can even connect multiple controllers to your console and tell the game to make them all vibrate along with the music and your play in real time. Hold a controller, put one behind your back and place one under each foot. It sounds ridiculous, but trust me. It adds to the experience. If you happen to have eight Joy-Cons laying around, I highly recommend it.
Lumines Remastered is a welcome dive back into this series, even if your favorite skin may have been left out. If anything, it left me wanting more.