Lumines Live hits the Xbox 360 live arcade today! Xbox live and Xbox.com should be back up and running at some point today after yesterday's update schedule left live gamers with nothing to do but play with themselves. Microsoft have been very secretive about the update, but we should find out what changes have been implemented very shortly.
As a block-dropping game, its look and basic gameplay is similar to Columns and Tetris, although the music and visuals are far more important to this game. A 2 x 2 square (an O tetromino) made of four smaller block pieces is dropped into the playing field. The small blocks that comprise the larger blocks will be one of two different colors. You make the blocks disappear by rotating their component block orientation and using the D-Pad to form four matching colored blocks into a square. A vertical "timeline" periodically sweeps horizontally across the field and removes such squares. Unmatched blocks pile up, and the game ends when the pile gets too tall. When part of a falling block hits an obstruction, the unobstructed portion of the block will split off and continue to fall.
Lumines Live! is played in different "skins". Like software interface skins, these change the visual appearance of the board, but they also control the soundtrack. Each skin contains a different song and different sound effects, which are triggered by game events and then integrated into the soundtrack. As in Mizuguchi's earlier game Rez, the separation of soundtrack and sound effects is much less than in most video games. Skins are unlocked by progressing through the different game modes.