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CONSOLE: Nintendo Switch DEVELOPER: Resonair PUBLISHER: Enhance Games
RELEASE DATE (NA): June 26, 2018 GENRE: Puzzle
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

The Ill-Lumines is real...

Another console generation, another port of Lumines. Whether it be on the original PSP, the Xbox 360, or now the Nintendo Switch, it's the same damn thing. Lumines. Play it once, play it a hundred times. Whether it's Supernova or Electronic Symphony, it's still damn Lumines. So welcome back to the exact same thing, again.

Which is what Lumines Remastered sets out to be: a high-definition port of a game over a decade old, at first released for a portable console near the start of its lifespan. Masterminded by Tetsuya Mizuguchi of Rez fame, this puzzler combines music sequencing and block dropping in a satisfying way. As you place pieces and destroy pieces, your ears are assaulted by sound effects and loud blaring music.

The pieces come in various types, and are made up of two colours. Combining four of a colour together in a 4x4 square highlights them, and as the phrase indicator at the top moves across them, they are deleted, and you are awarded points. The goal is to make as many points as possible and level up to the maximum level of 100, unlocking music (or rather, "skins") as you go.

The Nintendo Switch port contains one oddity I absolutely despise, a simple block behaviour change that "switches" up the entire game. In Lumines, there is a special piece that destroys all of a colour attached to it, but it must be encased in a 4x4 block to be used. The Switch port, however, does away with this requirement, and allows the special piece to be activate so long as it is touching even just one colour square. In other words, my favoured tactic to delay the use of the piece until I need it has now been ultimately removed from the game and for seemingly no reason.

The game may walk the walk, but can you block the block?

That aside, everything else about this is stunning. Enhance Games did a number on the game visually, adding more lights and sounds than before,and upgrading all of the game's visuals to HD. Every song and skin from the original Lumines is here, so although nobody has said it, YES, I can confirm that "Lights" by Eri Nobuchika is in the game.

The game also contains the other features from the original game, Puzzle, Time Attack, Skin Edit, VS CPU and multi-player. The game features a slew of avatars to collect, sporting that same Y2K blobject look they always have - and some new ones. There are also new skins to unlock, which is a pleasant surprise.

Speaking of skins, I must say that I appreciate the entire returning skin set from original Lumines. Skins such as "Aback", "Take A Dog Out A Walk" and "Holiday In Summer" have never sounded so good before — the live instrumentation on Aback especially. All returning songs are a pleasure to revisit. "Shinin'" and "I hear the music in my soul" blast out into headphones with the HD rumble of the joycons keeping time with the beat — this would have blown my mind fourteen years ago.

As faithful a port this is, and with all the licensed songs intact as well as all of Shinichi Osawa's work for the game, I find it a hard recommendation. Lumines II smashed all expectations when it released in 2006. Full motion video backdrops, more licensed songs, and a skin maker were among the boasted features. It also contained Stroll Around The World by Star Casino, which just elevated it further. A remake of Lumines just seems like choosing to remake a lesser quality game when you're aware there is an even better one.

Granted, if they added Star Casino and Genki Rockets to Lumines Switch, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase them, and it would certainly go towards making the experience a better one.

I cannot recommend Lumines Remastered knowing full well that the game has been tweaked in a way I don't like, and that other, better Lumines games already exist that offer a fuller experience. The PS Vita's astounding Lumines: Electronic Symphony, with "Played-A-Live" by Safri Duo. I'd much sooner point you towards that, if you have a PS Vita you haven't forgotten about and that isn't gathering dust in a box at the bottom of your bed.

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