As Tetris was to Game Boy, so Lumines is to PSP – but not iPhone and iPod touch. No better example exists of how hardware informs game design than Lumines Touch Fusion, a poorly conceived port of a phenomenal puzzler. Rather than improving play, fundamentally flawed touch controls prove this to be the wrong platform for the block-busting series.
In line with previous incarnations on PSP, Lumines Touch Fusion has you manipulating coloured blocks in order to create matches. Each block that falls from the top of the screen is comprised of four smaller squares shaded one of two colours. Positioning these squares so that they line up with others of the same colour is key. Swathes of like-coloured squares matched together are then cleared as a time line sweeps from left to right across the screen.
What's different here on iPhone and iPod touch are the controls. Replacing quickfire button presses and directional pad precision are taps and swipes of a finger to rotate and position blocks, respectively. It sounds reasonable in theory, but it falls apart during play.
Sliding a finger to move a block horizontally regularly causes it to rotate too. The same often happens when you try setting down a block by swiping downward.
Positioning block is hard enough without unintentional rotation. Precision is a problem, getting them right where you want a real challenge. Blocks frequently slide farther than desired or not far enough, requiring hasty repositioning. Obviously, this wastes precious time as the blocks inch down the screen and risks them settling into undesirable spots.
It's unbelievably aggravating to watch blocks tumble into the wrong spaces, rotating at the last moment. Things only get worse too as you progress further into the game, the speed of play picking up. Control foibles don't make Lumines Touch Fusion a complete failure, but they do prevent it from being as enjoyable as it should be.
Other elements contribute to the lack of fun including an underwhelming slate of modes, all of which but one are locked when you first play. Single Lap mode is joined by Endless, the only difference between the two being the visual skins used. Time Attack runs come in three flavours – 60, 120, and 180 seconds – dare you to earn as many points as possible before the clock runs out.
The game comes with a single basic skin, though you can purchase an additional one from within the app. It seems somewhat offensive that Q? Entertainment is asking $1.99 for the skin when the game itself rings up at $2.99/£1.79. Why not offer Puzzle mode or skin editing or head-to-head Bluetooth multiplayer instead? You know, all the extra modes from the PSP version that have been unwisely stripped here.
Without the variety those additional modes of play bring, Lumines Touch Fusion relies solely on the strength of its core puzzle play. Unfortunately, bad controls hamper its brilliant simplicity from shining through. Lumines was fun to play on PSP, but it's a touchy prospect on iPhone.