You may have heard of a game called Rez, which was an on-rails shooter for the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 that achieved critical acclaim due to the way in which it incorporated music into its overall play structure.
Rez was the brainchild of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who also helped produce Sega Rally and Space Channel 5 for Sega before departing the company to form his own development house (Q Entertainment). Right off the bat, Mizuguchi's new company announced plans to develop a new music-themed puzzle game for Sony's upcoming PSP console–called Lumines.
Lumines is scheduled to ship alongside the system when it launches in Japan this December, and in North America when Sony finally rolls out the unit here. Buzz is running pretty high for this game, so we thought we'd bring you up to date with all of the skinny on Mizuguchi's latest pet project.
Like Rez, Lumines is a puzzle game steeped in music. The basic object at the heart of the game is a cubic box made up of four smaller cubes of various colors. As those boxes fall from the top of the screen, it's the player's job to rotate the boxes and place them on the game board so that like-colored 2×2 cubes are made. The super hot twist here is that every box you make changes the music in some way (slowing it down, speeding it up, adding and removing rhythm and lyrics, etc.). An indicator at the top of the screen, along with the general backbeat of the music, keeps you "in tune" with what shapes you need to make in order to keep the track going, and we've been led to believe that freestyle mixing is also possible and encouraged.
The game's visuals also follow along with the music, up to a point. The shapes in the foreground are made up of solid colors or basic symbols (such as playing cards), and the backgrounds are a mixture of wire frames and photographs. As you complete cubes and add to the music, the graphic equalizer overlaid on the background reflects the pulse of the music and generates beautiful laser light and firework visual effects. The shapes shown on the cubes also change depending on how much of the song you've completed.
The soundtrack is obviously an important facet of the game, and Mizuguchi's company has spared no expense to include 40+ different music tracks from various techno and trance artists. Headlining the product are Mondo Grosso , an acid-jazz Diva group that has produced four albums and achieved popular success in Europe and Japan, and Eri Nobuchika , a soulful J-pop singer who's current single, "Lights," is currently taking the Japanese charts by storm. "Lights" is just one of the more than 40 music tracks that will comprise the soundtrack for Lumines. All tracks will include their full vocal accompaniments as well.
At roughly 3800 yen (about $40, the lowest price for a PSP game), Lumines is looking like something of a bargain. Besides the timed solo mode that features those 40+ aforementioned songs, the game will also include a marathon style free play mode and two forms of wireless competitive play. While we don't know what those modes will entail yet, we do know that they're limited to two simultaneous players and not massively-multiplayer.