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The Generic Lumines
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 14, 2005   |   Episode 53 (Show Archive)  


Without a doubt, the Japanese Lumines artwork is worlds better than the orange U.S. box!
Recently a puzzle game came into my life that I just haven't been able to put down. It's a fairly simple game, one that combines the simplicity of Tetris with colors and music. It's a game where it is your job to create squares and rectangles out boxes made out of two colors. Best of all, it's put to music and features a unique line that occasionally comes and clears the screen for you. That's right; I'm addicted to a little game called Illuminati.

Illuminati?? You mean that description wasn't for Lumines, the first must-own game for Sony's PlayStation Portable? Actually, that description pretty much sums up both games ... because these two games are exactly the same.

Let's compare: In Lumines square blocks fall from the top of the screen each with two-color patterns, same goes for Illuminati. In Lumines you try to make as many squares as you can before the cleaning line comes and collects them from you, this is exactly what happens in Illuminati. That cleaning line is vertical and moves from left to right in varying speeds in Lumines, and this is what happens in Illuminati as well. In Lumines the board you're playing on is 16 squares wide by 10 tall ... exactly the proportions of a certain game called Illuminati. Heck, both seem to be real proud of their individual music. In fact, the only difference I could find was that in Lumines the next three blocks are on the left side, while in Illuminati the blocks are displayed on the right.

Illuminata may not have anything to do with Illuminati, but it was directed by a certain John Turturro, which is damn cool!
So what's going on here? Illuminati was released in February, one month before the March 24th release date of the PSP. But February is a couple moths after the Japanese launch, which featured a certain music/puzzle game that quickly became the sleeper hit of the launch. That's right, Lumines started this craze ... and Illuminati followed suit.

Puzzle games have a long history of being stolen, ripped off, and used without permission, so this should not come as a surprise to anyone. These days there are literally thousands of versions of Tetris floating around on the net; while just about every other famous puzzler of the last twenty years has been re-engineered by some first year computer programmer. What is puzzling about this story is how quickly somebody took the idea and made it their own.

If the sudden and questionable launch of Illuminati teaches us anything, it's that Lumines was worth ripping off in the first place. Lumines is one of my all time favorite puzzle games, it's easy to pick up and extremely difficult to put down. But what made Lumines so great wasn't the concept; it was the extra touches that Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his team of programmers brought to the table. And at the end of the day it's for this that I realize the game's true greatness, this is a game that probably could have been made by just about anybody ... but in the wrong hands it just feels generic.


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