If there is anything close to a universal truth in video gaming, it is that people love Tetris. Ever since its creation in 1985, millions have played the classic game in one form or another. In the last 21 years, no puzzle game has come close to recreating the magic that Tetris had with its simplistic, engaging and addictive gameplay-until now.
Lumines (pronounced luminous) has been released previously on the PSP system and certain cell phones and has now been released for the first time in a non-handheld form. Published by Q Interactive, this fiendishly addictive puzzler is now available through Xbox Live for download on the Xbox 360 system in the form of Lumines Live!
Although the gameplay is similar to Tetris in that blocks must be arranged in such a way to clear room for an endless succession of dropping pieces, there is a difference. Rather than taking blocks of different shapes to form lines as in Tetris, Lumines has only squares to work with. However, all four sectors of the square are comprised of colors, and the gamer is tasked to match colors in order to clear blocks and progress in the game. This seemingly simple task becomes immensely compelling, and complex, in practice and will keep the gamer coming back for more to discover the intricacies of the experience.
Obviously the graphical limitations of a puzzle game are much greater now than when Alexey Pazhitnov created Tetris two decades ago, but the audio enhancements of this age of video gaming is the real star of the show in Lumines. Complex, rhythmic tracks accompany the gameplay and the pieces changes to match what is going on in the background. Drop a block and you get one sound. Clear a line and you get another. Move a piece to the left or right and you get another variation. This dynamic creates a living symphony at your fingertips, organically morphing as you play. The result is an engaging, flowing experience that is absolutely sublime. The amount of music and diversity of pieces and background transformations the game presents to you as you complete levels is ocean-deep and provides countless hours of play without repetition.
Lumines is nothing short of a transcendent puzzle experience that can melt through long stretches of time with ease. The music, visuals and gameplay all meld seamlessly into a trance-inducing package that flexes your intellect as it’s along for the ride. For finally bringing puzzle games back into prominence and redefining one of the massive classics of gaming, Lumines Live! scores a nine out of 10.