by Chris Barylick
June 2nd, 2006
Take a head count of your friends and you may notice something. If one of them picked up a PlayStation Portable and Lumines, they might not have been seen for a while. While this may not be terribly important, their children and pets may be vaguely curious as to where they are.
And they may still owe you money.
Such is Lumines, the incredibly popular puzzle game previously only available for the PlayStation Portable. Rarely do puzzle titles take off with this much success, but combine music with a Tetris-like game style, visually appealing graphics and a pace that literally changes with the tempo of the music, and the title becomes compelling.
Knowing a good thing when they see it Laser Pirate Squad (best company name ever), has brought Lumox 2, a clone of the Lumines puzzle game, to the Mac.
Clearing blocks after a combination in Laser Pirate Squad's Lumox 2.
Essentially identical to the PSP version, Lumox 2 wraps itself around the Tetris-like theme of rotating and dropping colored groups of blocks in 2x2 clusters to clear them from the screen. The game includes a wider playing area, a variable pace (the blocks fall in time with the beat of the music, which changes constantly) and tricks/combos, which can be activated and enhanced by dropping in exploder blocks.
Even though I was an initial skeptic, the product is compelling. Easy to learn, the game is just plain addictive and as fun as you could ask a puzzle title to be. As the blocks fall and need to be mentally sorted through (unlike Tetris, there's no "Next Block" image to give you an idea as to what pieces are on the horizon), background animations and level changes completely change the feel of the game in only a few seconds' time.
A combination stretches across the screen with additional blocks falling to add to the potential bonus score.
Perhaps most compelling about Lumox 2 is its idea of pacing. Once a block group has been formed, the blocks take several seconds to clear from the screen. During this time, additional blocks can be dropped to add to the combo's complexity and bonus are points awarded from the move. Where past titles in this genre typically removed the blocks within seconds, the rules have changed and that adds another element to consider as the game progresses.
Lumox 2 is available for a $10 registration fee that can be paid through MacGameStore.com. The trial version, a 16.4 megabyte download, allows the player to use the game five times before the official version must be paid for and downloaded. Once obtained and installed, players can use the title indefinitely as well as enter the three-color mode, which is much more challenging than the standard two-color game mode.
The title requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later to run and expands to occupy 18.1 megabytes of hard drive space when installed. Users can also import their own sound files into the game to use to set the game tempo by downloading and installing the SoundKeyFrameTool program.
That wraps it up for this week. As always, if you see anything new, cool or useful in the Mac universe,.
Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.
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