I remember when I first heard of Lumines several years ago. When I first saw screenshots of it, I was intrigued as an avid puzzle arcade game fan who grew up with titles like Tetris (didn't we all?). My first stint with Lumines was on PlayStation Portable (PSP) a while back, and I later picked it up on PlayStation 3. When Lumines arrived on mobile, I gave it a spin but it didn't feel quite as good as previous console versions. So when I saw Lumines Remastered coming for the Nintendo Switch, which is my favorite console at the moment, I had to grab it.
So is Lumines Remastered on the Switch worth it? Let's find out!
If you've never played a Lumines game before, I admit — it may seem pretty confusing at first. How do I know this? My fiancé and a roommate have never played Lumines before, and they were fairly confused when attempting a two-player battle on the big screen TV.
Honestly, I like to think of it as musical Tetris, and that's essentially what it boils down to. If you've played Tetris games, then Lumines should feel a bit similar, but things do work a bit differently here. One thing remains the same — if the grid is full and there's no more room for blocks, then it's game over.
The playing area is a 16x10 grid, and 2x2 blocks fall in from the top. The 2x2 blocks feature two different colors, and the objective is to make like-colored matches in at least a 2x2 square cluster. You're able to have overlapping squares that share common blocks. When a part of a falling block hits an obstruction, the rest splits off and continues to fall until it reaches the bottom.
The special feature of Lumines is the Time Line, which is the vertical line that sweeps through horizontally on the playing field from left-to-right. When you create a 2x2 square, it then becomes a "colored block." You want as many colored blocks as possible at once because when the Time Line passes through it, these blocks disappear and you're rewarded with points. The more blocks you clear and combos you create, the more points you get with multipliers.
It's important to know that you shouldn't make a block in the middle of the Time Line's sweep. Why? If this happens, the Time Line takes half of those blocks and you get zero points.
There are also special blocks that can appear, which can clear out like-colored blocks that are adjacent and connected to each other. If you know where to put these blocks, they can clear out a good chunk of the field and net you massive points.
Lumines features various "skins," which affect the appearance of the board, block colors, and sound. This is a key factor in how the game is played because the music affects the speed of the falling blocks as well as the Time Line. Because of this, faster songs may make it harder to get large combos, and slower tracks mean the board may end up getting filled up before the Time Line clears out blocks.
Like any good puzzle arcade game, there have to be various modes to keep the game fresh. Fortunately, Lumines Remastered offers just that — you'll never get bored here!
There are a total of seven game modes in Lumines Remastered: Challenge, Skin Edit, Time Attack, Puzzle, Mission, Vs CPU, and 2P Battle.
The "classic" mode is Challenge. Here, you'll progress through increasingly more difficult levels after reaching a certain point threshold, just as you would in Tetris. Only the Basic Challenge is available at first, and you must unlock Endless and Shuffle. To get Endless, you'll have to beat all of Basic first, which is easier said than done.
Shuffle Challenge gets unlocked after you get far enough in Basic, and shuffles all of the available skins you've unlocked so far in a randomized order. This is also a brand new mode that's exclusive to Lumines Remastered.
Skin Edit is similar to Shuffle Challenge, but you can rearrange your favorite skins in order of preference and play them that way. In Time Attack, you must erase as many squares as possible within the time limit, which can be 60, 180, or 300 seconds.
Puzzle is one of the more interesting ones. The objective here is to not erase as many blocks as possible, but rather create shapes and objects out of them instead. But then you need to think about how the disappearance of blocks affect the rest of the pieces and plan your moves accordingly.
Mission is similar to Puzzle, but not quite. Here, you're tasked with meeting certain conditions to clear a stage, and they can be pretty tricky. There's a total of 50 levels for Mission, and they can be things like clearing out only one column of squares. Again, they designed these modes to make you think and plan out your moves.
Vs CPU and 2P Battle are the same, except the CPU is against the computer and 2P is with another live person. In these battles, the playing area's split in half. When a contestant matches up squares and combos, their side of the stage gets pushed into the enemy territory, reducing the opponent's space. It's fast and chaotic in these battles, and potentially relationship threatening — don't say I didn't warn you.
The only negative about 2P Battle is the fact that it's local only. So there are no online battles, at least not yet. For now, you'll just have to settle for online leaderboards.
Again, no matter how you play, Lumines Remastered is sure to keep you busy for hours and hours.
The controls for Lumines Remastered are fairly simple and intuitive but do take some getting adjusted to if you're used to using the left Joy-Con joystick often. I swear I got confused several times while playing because I kept trying to use the joystick, resulting in bad starts in 2P Battle!
To move the blocks left and right, you'll be using the d-pad on the left Joy-Con. To make it easier to see where your block is going, the game highlights the columns it'll fall into on the field.
Now, you can't just drop blocks down without making sure that their positioning is correct first. Just press A or B to rotate clockwise, and Y or X for counterclockwise. While they all do the same thing, sometimes you may need a colored block in a certain spot quickly, so these controls just make it easier and faster for you.
Since Lumines is a game about the music, the Joy-Cons will vibrate in sync with the track that's played. It's meant to feel like a dance party in your hands, and thanks to the Joy-Cons, it's done exceptionally well on the Switch.
There are a few different vibration options that you can toggle on or off in the Settings. By default, the vibration is for rhythm and blocks, but you can set it to blocks only or turn it off completely. Trance vibration is a separate setting, and it has the controllers vibrating in tune to the music while the blocks drop.
Visual and audio design
The best part about Lumines Remastered is the graphics and sound, and this is probably the biggest reason to buy the game, whether you're a newcomer or a longtime fan.
Lumines always felt like a rave with the mix of bright and flashy visuals, stunning moving backgrounds, and minimalist yet stylish avatars. This Remastered version is no different, except for the fact that the graphics are much more polished than older versions, and it all looks gorgeous on the Switch.
While each game mode has it's own unique aesthetic, some share the skins that you end up unlocking from Challenge mode. These skins alter the playing field drastically, as the colors of the blocks change (though always complimentary) and the background image is always different.
Animations are always smooth and fluid in the Switch's portable mode, but I did notice occasional hiccups while playing from the dock on the TV. However, it's not a huge issue that it alters gameplay. Plus, with all of the craziness of the game going on, you'll hardly notice for the most part.
The real bread and butter of Lumines Remastered is the music. If you enjoy techno and EDM music, then this is a definite must-have. Each track is upbeat and quirky, and the pace of the Time Line goes along with the beat of the music. It's hard to not jam out while you play, especially when you have the vibrations on.
- Tons of game modes to keep you busy
- Amazing visuals and soundtrack
- Challenging and fast-paced rhythm puzzle fun
- New modes available only in this Remastered version
- Simple controls
- Game can be fairly difficult and stressful
- Some visual hiccups when playing on the TV
- 2P Battle is local only, so no online play
- You'll get "Shinin'" stuck in your head (forever)
I believe that Lumines Remastered is definitely one of the better rhythm puzzle arcade games that you can pick up. It's a lot more challenging than Tetris, and it comes packed with beautiful graphics and an awesome, catchy soundtrack. Lumines Remastered is based mostly on the original PSP game, so if you never got a chance to check that one out, then this is a great starting point into the Lumines franchise.
And since it's just $15, you honestly can't beat this if you just want a fun, challenging, and addictive game to pass the time with. The only negative is that you'll get the song "Shinin'" stuck in your head because it's always the first song. ALWAYS! Unless you do Skin Edit mode, that is.
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.
By Tammy Rogers