Lumines is a puzzle video game based on sound and light patterns. It was created by game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his company, Q Entertainment. It was first released for the PlayStation Portable in Japan on December 12, 2004 and released in North America on March 23 2005 and released in Europe on September 1, 2005.
Lumines is a block-dropping game, that may seem at first to be similar to Columns and Tetris. A 2 x 2 square (an O tetromino) made of four smaller block pieces is dropped into the playing field, which may appear different as the player advances through levels or skins. The small blocks that comprise the larger blocks will be one of two different colors. The objective is to rotate and align the blocks in such a way as to create 2x2 squares of the same color, which may span multiple blocks and, indeed, share blocks. For example, if one should get a 2x3 area of matching blocks, the middle portion will "share" itself with both the left and right halves and create two 2x2 squares. After the "timeline", which is synchronized to the music, sweeps over the matching blocks, they disappear. When too many unmatched blocks pile up to the point where no more blocks may be dropped in the playing field, the game ends.
When part of a falling block hits an obstruction, the unobstructed portion of the block will split off and continue to fall. More points are scored by creating the largest number of squares during one "timeline" sweep. Increasing score multipliers are earned by repeatedly clearing squares on consecutive timeline sweeps. Bonuses are also awarded by reducing all remaining tiles to one single color or for removing all non-active tiles from the screen altogether.
Occasionally, a block falls with a special square of one of the two colors with a "jewel" in the center. This square, when cleared as part of a matched 2x2 square, will cause all individual blocks of the same color that are horizontally or vertically adjacent to the matched 2x2 square, or to an adjacent square, to be cleared without score. These can be used for both generating large bonuses, since generally several blocks of the other color will be formed once these are removed, as well as to help the player recover if the field becomes too cluttered.
There are 4 basic modes in the game, Challenge, Time Attack, Puzzle, Vs., and Vs. CPU Mode. Challenge Mode cycles through skins in a fixed order of generally increasing difficulty, and is played until the blocks pile up to the top of the screen. The maximum score in Challenge Mode is 999,999 points. Time Attack games give the player a limited time to clear as many blocks as possible. Puzzle mode challenges the player to create pictures (such as a cat, dog, cross, etc.) by forming the picture with one color while surrounding it with the opposite color. Vs. CPU mode is a series of battles against A.I. opponents. A line splits the playing field in half, and deleting blocks or combinations of blocks shifts the line towards the opposing player, giving the opposing player less room on their side. The battle ends when blocks pile up all the way to the top of the screen for one player. Two players with PSPs can use their wireless connection to play in the same way.
It is theoretically possible to beat at least the slow parts of the single-player Challenge mode of Lumines deterministically. By dividing the game board into separate sections, and using each section to clear blocks of only a single type, it is always possible to place a piece so that the game state stays in a loop. However, this tactic is not completely foolproof; it will only work as long as the speed of the falling blocks (which can increase or decrease with changes in the "skin") does not exceed the ability of the player to place them before landing and the timeline moves quickly enough to delete the blocks. A jewel (deleting all blocks of the same colour that are aligned to it) can also mess up this tactic.