So back in 2006 I was just getting back into gaming again after taking a bit of a hiatus while I was in college. Remember those commercials for the PSP where Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" showed a hip 20-something dude using all the cool media functions of the new device? It had sold me. I was like yeah - this new gaming system isn't just for games! It's for playing music and watching videos and being a hip 20-something dude! So after my wife and I had a rather successful yard sale I set out to Gamestop to pick up a PSP. Except, when I got there and looked at the game selection, I instead bought a Nintendo DS... because there were Castlevania games on DS. I think I made the right decision, right?
But that was just the beginning of my reinvigorated love of gaming. And at some point not too much later, I picked up a PSP as well. And to be honest, in those days before I had a smart phone, the media functions were pretty cool. I seriously lugged that thing with me to work to use as an MP3 player in my car. So whatever. But let's be real: the PSP library was never close to the quality or quantify of the DS. It was just no contest. And yet there were a small (seriously small) handful of PSP games that I loved and couldn't play on DS.
Puzzle games and portable systems go hand-in-hand. Ever since Tetris was bundled with the original Game Boy, it just seemed like a natural fit. And sadly there was no Tetris on PSP, so I had to seek out other replacements. I remember playing Klax on PSP a lot and really trying to force myself into having a good time. It didn't really work, though. But eventually I found Lumines.
If there's one word I'd use to describe Lumines, it's "zen." It's the sort of puzzle game I play to zone out and relax. It's almost meditative. Because it was developed by Mizuguchi - creator of such cult classics as Space Channel 5, Rez, and so on - there's a strong rhythm element to it. Basically, there's dropping blocks and you're trying to match them up to make squares of colors (pretty typical falling-block puzzler stuff), except the hook here is that there's essentially a metronome crossing the screen horizontally and the squares only clear when it reaches them. This sets up the potential for some crazy combos and creates the peril of needing to keep to a certain rhythm so as not to overload the screen. It's good stuff.
Anyway, when Lumines Remastered was announced on Switch last year I said I'm totally gonna buy this... when it inevitably gets a physical release. So here we are. And I'm thrilled to have a new version of Lumines to play on hardware better than the PSP. There's a bunch of modes and stuff to unlock but I'm really paying it no mind. All I want is that simple zen mode. Nothing fancy. I just zone out. A typical round for me now is around seventeen minutes, but back when I was 'good' at this game, I'd play for well over a half-hour per round.
It's totally the opposite of say, Tetris 99 which I've been super into lately. Rather than competing against others and playing really competitive minded, I'm just spacing out and losing myself in the colors and sounds. Though I did turn the vibration off because frankly it's just too loud for my taste when playing late at night. Anyway. Great game. Super glad it's on Switch now.