(thump, thump...is this thing on? ok, good. <ahem> here is the...)

 __       __    __  .___  ___.  __  .__   __.  _______    _____
|  |     |  |  |  | |   \/   | |  | |  \ |  | |   ____| /      |
|  |     |  |  |  | |  \  /  | |  | |   \|  | |  |__    |   (--
|  |     |  |  |  | |  |\/|  | |  | |  . `  | |   __      \   \    
|  `----.|  `--'  | |  |  |  | |  | |  |\   | |  |____.  ---)  |   
|_______| \______/  |__|  |__| |__| |__| \__| |_______| |_____/    
                                                                   
         .______    __        ______     ______  __  ___ 
         |   _  \  |  |      /  __  \   /      ||  |/  / 
         |  |_)  | |  |     |  |  |  | |  ,----'|  '  /  
         |   _  <  |  |     |  |  |  | |  |     |    <   
         |  |_)  | |  `----.|  `--'  | |  `----.|  .  \  
         |______/  |_______| \______/   \______||__|\__\ 
                                               
                  _______    ___       ______   
                 |   ____|  /   \     /  __  \     
                 |  |__    /  ^  \   |  |  |  
                 |   __|  /  /_\  \  |  |  |  |    
                 |  |    /  _____  \ |  `--'  '--
                 |__|   /__/     \__\ \_____\_____\
 

or, Way more than you wanted to know about maximizing your score
     
     
                        By G-MasterFlash
                   trashmail@columbus.rr.com
                  Copyright: 2005 Grant Parsons

This may be not be reproduced under any circumstances except for
personal, private use. It may not be placed on any web site or
otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission.
Use of this guide on any other web site or as a part of any public
display is strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Index
-----

0.  Intro ("Lumines" pronunciation and some terminology)
1.  Block basics (What kinds of blocks there are)
2.  Game mechanics (How the game works)
3.  General tips for placing blocks (The five key rules)
4.  Combos and the time line (When to hold 'em, when to drop)
5.  Destroyer square strategies (Get the most from the rare square)
6.  Block frequency (How often each appears; what that means)
7.  Block strategies (How to handle the trickier blocks)
8.  The phases of the game (One game, three phases, three strategies)
9.  The pause button (Panicked? Use the pause that refreshes)
10. An aside (Comparing Lumines to Tetris)
11. Time Attack Mode (Making the most of combos and throwing blocks)
12. Puzzle mode and solutions (A few tips and a lot of solutions)
13. What's coming in future editions of this FAQ (What's coming)
14. Thanks (Thanks)
15. Postscript: The quest for the ultimate solution
    (which so far has proved difficult)
16. Copyright notice (In case you didn't read the one above)

--------------------------------------------------------------------


0. Intro
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

OK, three important things first: 

Thing No. 1:

The name of this game is promounced "loo men-ESS," the same 
way that "luminous" or "luminese" is promounced. How do we know? 
That's how the game's creator, Tetsuya Mizuguchi,says it in the clips
found at the Official Playstation Magazine website (thanks, guys!):

http://psp.1up.com/do/gameOverview?cId=3134877

The vids are at toward the bottom of the page.

Personally, I find this pronounciation odd, as the spelling would
suggest that it would be pronounced similarly to "anime"--an-eh-MAY.
Another, equally odd option that also isn't correct, is LOO-mines.

But hey, whether I (or you) think it's odd, the correct way
to say it, as per the guy who created it, is "Lumin-ESS."
Go figure ;-)

Here's another take on why it's pronounced the way it is, courtesy
of Daryl Cooper, who apparently knows Kanji. Quite interesting..
 
  I'm just reading your Lumines FAQ - really good info there!

  I read the section about the pronounciation - and I thought you 
  might be interested to hear the explaination as to why it is 
  pronounced lumin-ess

  The reason is Japanese Katakana pronounciation. I live in Tokyo, 
  and am learning japanese. One thing that you notice a lot of when 
  you live here is that english words are greatly simplified - to 
  the extent sometimes that totally different words in english have
  the same pronounciation. This is because when they are written in 
  Katakana (the japanese character set for writing forign words) 
  there are only a limited number of sounds - and these sounds 
  only approximate english!

  For example the japanese pronounciation for the name VLAD will 
  also be the same for BRAD, (actually it will be prounced bu-ra-do).

  The same reson stands for lumines. Japanese read english, as 
  katakana  sounds, so lumines will be read as RU-MI-NE-SU. In 
  Japanese, if a word ends in 'U' (like ru, or su) the u sound 
  is usually dropped. thus ru-mi-ne-ss or lumin-ess. The ru sound 
  is actually somewhere between the english sounds for L and R, so
  kinda sounds wrong most of the time...

  Anyway, hope this makes some sense!

  Daryl

Thanks, Daryl--actually, it does make sense, and as a fan of most
things Japanese, including Pocari Sweat (and, to a lesser extent,
Death Chips), I appreciate you sending this along!

------

Thing No. 2: 

If you put Lumines to sleep and come back later to finish your game,
(and sometimes when you don't) when you finish that game with a 
high score, it will ask you if you want to "load" a profile. SAY NO!
It may be counter-intuitive, but you want to decline loading a 
profile if you'd rather save a high score.

_After_ you decline the first question, Lumines asks if you want
to save. Here is where you say yes. 

I don't know how many times I've screwed this up. It really, really
blows if you do this after getting some unobtainium skin or two, and
don't save it because you answer a game query out of reflex. Don't
ask me how I know.

The key here is that the same questions don't come in the same order 
every time. The thing to remember? Any time the game asks you a 
question, read it and think carefully. Your saved skins may hang in 
the balance! ;-)

------

Thing No. 3:

In this FAQ, a "block" is  this size...

  -----
 |  |  |
 |  |  |
 |--+--|
 |  |  |
 |  |  |
  -----


..and a "square" is one-fourth of a block, or one of these things...

  --
 |  |
 |  |
  --

Got it? Cool.


Where to start reading this FAQ:
--------------------------------

If you've played Lumines for longer than about 20 minutes and 
are looking for some general strategies, you can skip Block Basics,
(which is interesting mainly from a mathematical perspective), and...

..You can also skip Game Mechanics, which will be fairly old
hat to you, so...

Jump straight to section 3.

And,

If you're coming here because you're stuck on the puzzle solutions,
you will probably never even see this graf, because you've already
don't a CNTL-F and searched for "Clear All x2). But if you've been
dutiful enough to read this far, I am truly flattered.

Please skip to Section 12, and find peace, my brother ;-)


However...

If you've never played Lumines before,or you're looking for a 
deeper understanding of the game, start reading here.


1. Block basics
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 


The whole game is built around a mere six blocks:

 _____     _____     _____     _____     _____     _____  
|  |  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|XX| 
|  |  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|XX| 
|--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--| 
|  |  |   |  |  |   |XX|  |   |  |XX|   |XX|XX|   |XX|XX| 
|  |  |   |  |  |   |XX|  |   |  |XX|   |XX|XX|   |XX|XX| 
 -----     -----     -----     -----     -----     -----  
blankey    oney      twoey     deuce     trey      quad

However, when you rotate them, they can become other unique blocks.
So technically, there are more unique blocks in the game than five;
they just happen to be the five original blocks in different
orientations.

A blankey doesn't change when it rotates, so it's:    1 block
  _____
 |  |  |
 |  |  |
 |--+--|
 |  |  |
 |  |  |
  -----

A oney changes four times  when it rotates, so it's:  4 blocks
 _____     _____     _____     _____ 
|XX|  |   |  |  |   |  |  |   |  |XX|
|XX|  |   |  |  |   |  |  |   |  |XX|
|--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|
|  |  |   |XX|  |   |  |XX|   |  |  | 
|  |  |   |XX|  |   |  |XX|   |  |  | 
 -----     -----     -----     -----   

A twoey changes four times when it rotates, so it's:  4 blocks
 _____     _____     _____     _____ 
|XX|  |   |  |  |   |  |XX|   |XX|XX|
|XX|  |   |  |  |   |  |XX|   |XX|XX|
|--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|
|XX|  |   |XX|XX|   |  |XX|   |  |  |
|XX|  |   |XX|XX|   |  |XX|   |  |  |
 -----     -----     -----     -----   

A deuce changes two times when it rotates, so it's:   2 blocks
 _____     _____ 
|XX|  |   |  |XX|
|XX|  |   |  |XX|
|--+--|   |--+--|
|  |XX|   |XX|  |
|  |XX|   |XX|  |
 -----     -----    

A trey changes four times when it rotates, so it's:    4 blocks
 _____     _____     _____     _____ 
|XX|  |   |  |XX|   |XX|XX|   |XX|XX|
|XX|  |   |  |XX|   |XX|XX|   |XX|XX|
|--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|
|XX|XX|   |XX|XX|   |  |XX|   |XX|  |
|XX|XX|   |XX|XX|   |  |XX|   |XX|  |
 -----     -----     -----     -----   

A quad doesn't change when it rotates, so it's:       1 block

 _____
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
|--+--|
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
 -----                                               _________

Therefore, those five original blocks actually equal: 16 blocks

As it turns out, this is entirely predictable when you have a block
made up of four squares, and you try as many combinations as possible.

4x4 = 4(squared) = 16.

Math lesson over ;-)

...well, not exactly over. Charles Blaquière offers this mathwhiz take
on the numbers...

   Actually, the math is wrong. The reason why there are 16 combinations
   is that each square is one of 2 colors and since there are 4 squares 
   per block:

    2^4 (2 to the fourth power) = 16.

   You may want to correct your text. And thanks for going through the effort 
   of writing this guide!

Thanks, Charles!


2. Game mechanics
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Lumines plays very simply, and anyone can figure out the rules by 
playing for about two minutes. Mastering the game and doing well,
that's a whole 'nother thing. Here's the rules, for the sake of 
FAQ completeness, more than anything...:

  A. You drop a block into the grid.

  B. The block drops until it hits something (either another block or
     the "floor," then stops.

  C. If only part of a block (two vertical squares) hits something,
     the rest of the block (the remaining two vertical squares) keep
     falling until they hit something (either another square or the
     "floor").

  D. If any of the falling squares come to rest creating a solid block
     or rectangle (either colored or white/clear), that block deletes
     when the "time line," which sweeps the grid from right to left,
     crosses over it. (The time line gets its name from a simliar bar 
     in a music sequencer, I read somewhere on the net (uncredited, 
     sorry!).

  E. If, before the timeline arrives, you manage to pile on more squres
     that make even more rectangles out of your original rectangle,
     you get mondo pointage. I think the points are multiplied by the
     number of squares formed.

  F. If you make a block with a special square that occasionally 
     appears contaning a contrasting dot, (called in this faq a
     "destroyer") every square of the same color that's touching
     the destroyer either horizontally or vertically (not diagonally) 
     disappears,too, and you get mondo pointage - and a lot more
     space to work with.

  G. Fill up the screen so you can't drop blocks = game over.



3. General tips for placing blocks
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Think leftovers...

Before we talk about the main focus of this game--making rectangles of
like-colored blocks--let's first consider something much more important
to your long-term survival in Lumines...

What's left behind when you make those wonderful like-colored blocks?

Consider the following. It happens to be a very good technique in its 
own right -- the best for getting rid of a leftover "nub" (one square
sticking up with nothing surrounding it). It, in fact, makes you a 
"delete" and gets you pointage. 

But it also leaves something behind, which many (but not all)
dropped blocks will do.


 Trey deletes nub
 ----------------


   _____
  |XX|  |
  |XX|  |
  |--+--|  <--this block falls on the nub below,
  |XX|XX|     and the nub pushes up the two right
  |XX|XX|     squares, while the two left squares
   -----      finish falling to the floor...






    ||                 +--+
    ||                 |  |
    \/   ..creating  __|__|     ...which leaves
            this... |XX|XX|           this...               ...after
                    |XX|XX|                                  the like-
      __            |--+--|                          ---  colored block
     |XX|  =======> |XX|XX| ====>            ==>    |   |    deletes.
     |XX|           |XX|XX|                         |   |
  ---+--+-         -+--+--+-                       -+---+-


You get the delete, and the pointage that goes with it, but you're left
with another nub. Of course,if you drop a contrasting trey on it you
get another delete, and the pointage that goes with _it._ But you're 
left with another nub, and...well, you get the idea.

In fact, it's not a bad strategy to park a nub out somewhere that you
can use to get rid of treys, if that's your style. But we're getting 
ahead of things here.

The main point to be learned here is that a lot of the time, dropping 
blocks may get you deletes, which in turn gets you points. But the act 
of dropping also leaves squares behind. It's how you manage those 
squares left behind--both in terms of how you make them, and how you 
endeavor to get rid of them--that will dictate your long-term survival,
and, ergo, how high your score gets, and how many of those precious 
skins you unlock.

So, here's two points worth remembering: 

 A. Deleting blocks gets you points; and,
 
 B. Managing leftover blocks lets you survive longer

To have ying, you must have yang. And that's the true balance of 
this game.

Concentrate just on making blocks to delete, and you'll not last long. 
And if you concentrate just on leaving good stuff behind, you won't as
high a score.

But do both... ah, now that is the beauty.

Ahem. Where was I? Oh, right. This brings me to the the cardinal rules
of Lumines...


 Rule No. 1: Checkerboard bad
 ----------------------------

Repeat after me: "Checkerboard bad."

This is your new mantra. What this means is that anytime you make 
deletes that produce a pattern like this...

 ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- 
|XX|  |XX|  |XX|  |XX|  |XX|  |
|XX|  |XX|  |XX|  |XX|  |XX|  |
|--+--|--+--|--+--|--+--|--+--|   
|  |XX|  |XX|   XX|  |XX|  |XX| 
|  |XX|  |XX|  |XX|  |XX|  |XX| 
 ----- ----- ----- ----- -----  

..or the vertical equivalent that looks like this...

 -----
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- 
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- 
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- 
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- 
 

...you will have a difficult time getting rid of those blocks. Why? 
Since only rectangles of like-colored blocks can be deleted, 
you cannot add anything to this pattern from above that creates a
delete.

Strange but, as my kid says, "oddly true."

At best, you can only start over using the top of this row as the
new "floor." Bummer is you're that much closer to the top of the grid,
and, ergo, the end of the game.

If you've been unfortunate enough to create this pattern, your only hope
to delete part of it is to get a destroyer bock. Use a destroyer
and create a square on top of this pattern, and you'll be lucky enough to 
create a one-square chink in it, which you could theoretically use to
start the laborious work of slowly getting rid of the whole "new floor."

If you're super-good, you could build an elaborate chain connected to
the destroyer (something covered later in this FAQ) to delete more
than one like-colored square. But that's a lot of work. Better to not 
get yourself in this position in the first place.

Luckily, there is a corollary to "checkerboard bad," and it is:
 

 Rule No. 2: Pairs good
 ----------------------

Repeat after me: "Pairs good." This is your new complementary mantra.


Ideally, as you create deletes, you want to be creating a pattern
that looks like this..


 ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- 
|XX|XX|  |  |XX|XX|  |  |XX|XX|
|XX|XX|  |  |XX|XX|  |  |XX|XX|
|--+--|--+--|--+--|--+--|--+--|   
|  |  |XX|XX|  |  |XX|XX|  |  |   
|  |  |XX|XX|  |  |XX|XX|  |  | 
 ----- ----- ----- ----- -----   


...or the vertical equivalent that looks like this...


 -----
|  |  |
|  |  |
|--+--|
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
 ----- 
|  |  |
|  |  |
|--+--|
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
 ----- 
|  |  |
|  |  |
|--+--|
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
 ----- 
|  |  |
|  |  |
|--+--|
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
 ----- 




These are better, because you could drop a twoey that looks like
this...

 _____                        -----
|  |  |                      |XX|XX|
|  |  |                      |XX|XX|
|--+--|    ...or this...     |--+--| 
|XX|XX|                      |  |  |
|XX|XX|                      |  |  |
 -----                        -----

..or even a trey or oney that looks like this...

 _____                        -----
|XX|  |                      |XX|  |
|XX|  |                      |XX|  |
|--+--|    ...or this...     |--+--| 
|XX|XX|                      |  |  |
|XX|XX|                      |  |  |
 -----                        -----

... or even a blankey or quad that looks like this...


 _____                        -----
|  |  |                      |XX|XX|
|  |  |                      |XX|XX|
|--+--|    ...or this...     |--+--| 
|  |  |                      |XX|XX|
|  |  |                      |XX|XX|
 -----                        -----


...and produce deletes. Even cooler, in some cases (twoey) the
leftovers would delete the pair below them. Pretty cool, huh? 

Clearly, then, pairs good. (This has been true in one way or another
throughout the history of recorded time. But i digress...)

All this brings us to...


 Rule No. 3: Think first, drop second
 ------------------------------------

Before you drop a block, take a split-second to ask yourself this
question:

    Will your leftovers leave a checkerboard, or a pair?

If it's a pair, huzzah! A checkerboard? You can probably do better.
(Assuming you have time, which is a big assumption.)
 
Which brings us to...


 Rule No. 4: Drop blocks
 -----------------------

This is the one you've been waiting for:

    Create like-colored deletes with falling blocks.

Wierd, huh?

Isn't this crazy?: Only after everything you've read so far, is it
_really_ safe to drop a block. Odd that a game so focused on the 
seemingly simple act of dropping blocks would require you to take
so much in consideration before actually dropping a block.

That is the genius of this game. It really is deep as heck. Hats off
to the dudes who came up with it. These first rules only scratch the
surface.


 Rule No. 5: If all else fails, do no harm
 -----------------------------------------

If all else fails, and you can't find anywhere to drop a block that
makes any sense to your overall strategy, then drop it so that it
makes at least a pair. Ideally, this pair will be horizontally, so 
it can be most easily gotten rid of. But in a pinch, a vertical
pair isn't bad, either, since you will at least have a fighting 
chance of getting rid of it.

Remember, if you can't get rid of it quickly, chances are good that
if you follow all the rules and strategies in this FAQ, you'll have
the opportunity to get rid of it later.


4. Combos and time line strategies
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

When you create at block of at least four like-colored squares, it 
will glow until the timeline hits it, at which point it will become
a delete, and everything above it (if anything) will drop down.

While the block is glowing, any other two like-colored squares you 
can drop on it or beside it will up your score. Pretty much any two
or more squares you can get to touch the square will make more 
squares, so it pays to have as much time as possible in which to
build combos.

To get the max time, wait until the timeline has just passed the area
in question before you create the glowing delete. Sometimes, this will
mean you have to drop the block with the down arrow, to speed things
up. Other times you'll be waiting for the line to clear before 
dropping. Either works.

Combos really do up your score, so it pays to throw blocks with like-
colored squares at glowing deletes like a madman. The downside is that
if you don't think much while you're doing it, you could be building
yourself quite a mess to dig out of. Again, that's part of the fun
balance of the game. You must always be thinking, and risk gets you 
reward--or makes a mess.

One last key rule about the time line. Never create a delete when the
timeline is in the middle of it. Do that, and only the part of the 
delete to the right of the time line will be destroyed. The part to the
left will remain. Usually, this is a bummer (though at times it's an
advanced technique that can aid you if you're daring enough to try 
to use half-deleted blocks in your overall strategy; it's also a boon
in the 2x puzzles--see puzzle section below). <-- Boy, that's a long
parenthetical statement ;-)


5. Destroyer square strategies
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Destroyer squares are those tiny squares with the contrasting colored
blocks inside them. Any like-colored squares touching that square
horizontally or vertically--and any like-colored square touching those
squares--will all disappear when the destroyer deletes with a block.

According to my frequency checks, destroyers come along about every
36 blocks, give or take, which isn't very often. So use them to
the fullest.

It's tough to think ahead, especially when you're first starting, but
it's important to keep at least part of your attention on the blocks
that are coming up--the three on the left part of the screen that 
move up when your dropped block moves down. The block at the top of 
the three is the one that will appear atop the grid next.

This way, you can see a destroyer squares three blocks before it comes
into play, giving you time to plan.

There are three key points to using destroyer blocks.

 A. Don't just make a block; think. If you use a destroyer square to
    just make a single delete, and nothing else is deleted, you get no
    benefit from the destoyer.

 B. You can drop a destoyer square into the best position avalable 
    to make a delete, and hope that you take out as many extra like-
    colored squares as possible. This is better than "A," but not
    the best use of a destoyer.
 
 C. The best way to use a destoyer is to drop it so that it doesn't
    immediately disappear, but can be completed into a delete easily.
    Then use new blocks to link existing and new like-colored squares 
    together, and tie them back to the destoyer's soon-to-be deleted 
    block. Then, when you delete the destoyer, everything else goes, 
    too.

    This is actually great fun, and it's possible, with a bit of 
    planning, to have a destoyer "snake" that goes from one side of 
    the grid to the other, and when it all deletes, it's great fun
    and gets you extra points. 

    The downside to this strategy, of course, is that you can make
    ridiculously long snakes, and then screw up deleting the destroyer,
    which leaves you with something that's really tough to get rid of.
    Yin, meet yang; yang, yin.




6. Block Frequency
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 


In game mode, blocks drop "somewhat" randomly--the order in which
they show up is never the same twice. (The same is true in many,
though not all, of the levels in puzzle mode.) I say "somewhat," 
however, because some blocks show up more often than others.
I've recorded the blocks that appear over several games, then 
averaged the results. Here's what I've come up with...

 _____     _____     _____     _____     _____     _____  
|  |  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|XX| 
|  |  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|  |   |XX|XX| 
|--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--|   |--+--| 
|  |  |   |  |  |   |XX|  |   |  |XX|   |XX|XX|   |XX|XX| 
|  |  |   |  |  |   |XX|  |   |  |XX|   |XX|XX|   |XX|XX| 
 -----     -----     -----     -----     -----     -----  

blankey    oney      twoey     deuce     trey       quad

 6.3%      25.1%     21.5%     14.5%     25.1%      6.3%


Among the games I sampled, the numbers were generally the same, 
though from game to game the percentage of a given block could
fluctuate a point or two. I think it's accurate enough for
general use.

---Note added 4/25/05:
   
   Two people who read earlier versions of this FAQ, Todd Salerno
   and Carl2, both looked at the figures above and saw something
   different. Apparently being number guys, they noted that the 
   numbers I got were very close to what you'd get if the 16 blocks
   (in section 1) were randomized, as opposed to the way I did this,
   which was looking at it in terms of six blocks.

   Confused? Here's how Todd explained it (which is very close to 
   how Carl explained it, as well):

     >it seems to me rather likely that the game randomizes for each
     >unique orientation. 100% divided by 16 = 6.25%, so it's probably
     >close to:
     >
     >blankey: 1 x 6.25% = 6.25%
     >oney: 4 x 6.25% = 25%
     >twoey: 4 x 6.25% = 25%
     >deuce: 2 x 6.25% = 12.5%
     >trey: 4 x 6.25% = 25%
     >quad: 1 x 6.25% = 6.25%
     >
     >...your numbers seem close enough to these mathematical ideals to
     >make me think that they would regress to the mean with a 
     >large enough sample.

   It took me about two seconds to see that Carl and Todd must be
   right, as well. (Meaning that, in fact, both sets of frequency
   numbers are right; they're just arrived at from two different
   directions.) It only makes sense, actually. What's really neat,
   though, is that this second way of looking at block frequency
   only makes me have more respect for the developers of Lumines.
   Why? Simple...

   If this is true--and it seems quite likely--then the game is made
   "pure," meaning that the blocks are fully random, and the order
   you get them hasn't been "tweaked" for the sake of either difficulty
   or ease. The developers realized there were 16 blocks, so they
   randomized all 16.

   Pretty neat, really.
  
   OK, so I lied about the math lesson being over above. _Now_ it's
   over. ;-)
  
---End note added 4/24/05

Of course, since they're random, they don't drop in the same order 
every time, and it's entirely possible to get several of the same
blocks dropping one after another, which is rather maddening if you
don't have a stragegy for them.

From these percentages, you can divine a few things worth considering.

  A. Taken togeher, Oneys and Treys make up more than half
     of the blocks dropped. If you're not adept at handling
     them, you'll have a hard time. (See "Strategies for
     Oneys and Treys," below)

  B. Twoeys are the second largest group, but they're relatively
     easy to deal with since making pairs with them isn't
     too tough--if you've been following the rule "pairs good"
     above.

  C. Deuces are the next largest group, and they're a bit tricky,
     too (see "Strategies for Deuces," below). 


7. Block strategies
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 


The way to get high scores in Lumines is to employ several block
strategies at once, balancing each against each other in a dynamic,
ever-changing environment.


A. Special Strategies for Oneys and Treys

There are two good ways to get rid of treys and oneys, which are the
same piece but reversed.

 1). Slicing

Look for a lone square that is the same color as the majority of the 
oney or trey, and position the block above it, so the one, off-
colored square is directly above it. This can be done to squares that
are sitting by themselves, like this...



  -----
 |  |XX|
 |  |XX|
 |--+--|
 |  |  |
 |  |  |
  ----- 


     --
    |  |
    |  |
----+--+------

...or part of a string, like this...


  -----
 |  |XX|
 |  |XX|
 |--+--|
 |  |  |
 |  |  |
  ----- 


     -- -- -- --  
    |  |XX|XX|XX|
    |  |XX|XX|XX|
----+--+--+--+--+-----


The end result will be that you create a delete, and leave the sheared-
off single color behind.

If you don't have any nubs, you can use another technique, called...

 2) Double slicing

Similar to slicing, only done with blocks that are two squares high...

  -----
 |  |XX|
 |  |XX|
 |--+--|
 |  |  |
 |  |  |
  ----- 

     -- -- -- --  
    |  |XX|XX|XX|
    |  |XX|XX|XX|
     -- -- -- --  
    |  |XX|XX|XX|
    |  |XX|XX|XX|
----+--+--+--+--+-----

Note that when doing this, you can have the off-colored square in 
a position like above, or like this...

  -----
 |  |  |
 |  |  |
 |--+--|
 |  |XX|
 |  |XX|
  ----- 

     -- -- -- --  
    |  |XX|XX|XX|
    |  |XX|XX|XX|
     -- -- -- --  
    |  |XX|XX|XX|
    |  |XX|XX|XX|
----+--+--+--+--+-----

Either one may have an advantage over the other, depending on what's
around it. Remember, "pairs good." Scan and think before placing.

If you don't have blocks in the above configurations, you could...

 3) Build with the blocks themselves

Aim to produce this...
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
 -----  ----- 

...which can be gotten rid of pretty obviously with this...

     ----- 
    |XX|XX|
    |XX|XX|
    |--+--|
    |  |  |
    |  |  |
     -----
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
 -----  ----- 

...in two passes of the time line. 


B.  Strategies for Deuces

Deuces can be tricky because they are part of the dreaded
checkerboard that you don't want to be building. Instead,
aim to produce patterns like this...

 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|  |  ||  |XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 _____  _____   
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
 -----  ----- 

..which, in two passes of the timeline, become this...

 __        __   
|XX|      |XX| 
|  |      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|__|      |__| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
|--+      +--| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
 ------------ 

...which can be deleted with this, with another two passes
of the timeline...

     ----- 
    |XX|XX|
    |XX|XX|
    |--+--|
    |  |  |
    |  |  |
     -----
     ----- 
    |  |  |
    |  |  |
    |--+--|
    |XX|XX|
    |XX|XX|
     -----


 __        __   
|XX|      |XX| 
|  |      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|__|      |__| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
|--+      +--| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
 ------------ 


  Another technique for deuces

Another useful technique for deuces is to create a five-square-wide
area on the right side of the 16-square grid, that you set aside for the 
sole purpse of getting rid of deuces--and only deuces. (The right side
is the best place so you can keep an eye on the time line, something
that is important with this strategy).

Interested? Do it this way:

One of the five squares is left blank to separate the rest of the grid
from the area used for deuces. On the larger part of the grid, deal with
chaos the same way you usually do, effectively managing leftovers,
creating deletes and concentrating on making at least pairs when you
can't make anything else.

Then in the special area you set aside to get rid of deuces, build
the same pattern as above, but use only deuces to get rid of it,
like this...


 -----  -----   
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 -----  -----   
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

..which deletes the block in the middle to create this...

 --        --   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 -----  -----   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

...which deletes the block in the center bottom to create this...


 --        --   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 --        --   
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
|--+      +--| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
 ------------- 

...then, when the next deuce comes up, drop it in like this...

     _____   
    |  |XX|
    |  |XX|
    |--+--| 
    |XX|  | 
    |XX|  | 
     -----

 --        --   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 --        --   
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
|--+      +--| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
 ------------- 

...which creates this....


 --        --   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 -----  -----   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

...into which you drop your next deuce, thusly...

     _____   
    |XX|  |
    |XX|  |
    |--+--| 
    |  |XX| 
    |  |XX| 
     -----
 --        --   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 -----  -----   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

...which produces this...

 -----  -----   
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 -----  -----   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

...which (hold on, end is coming) deletes the block in the middle 
left, to produce this...


        -----   
       |  |XX| 
       |  |XX| 
       |--+--| 
       |XX|  | 
       |XX|  | 
        ----- 
 -----  -----   
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

...which deletes the block on the lower left to produce this...

        -----   
       |  |XX| 
       |  |XX| 
       |--+--| 
       |XX|  | 
       |XX|  | 
        ----- 
        -----   
       |XX|  | 
       |XX|  | 
       |--+--| 
       |  |XX| 
       |  |XX| 
 ---------------

Which astute observers will realize is the right two blocks that 
allow you to start building the pattern again.

A few tips about this technique..

  1. Destroyers can screw this up, so if you're using this technique
     and you get a deuce that contains a destroyer, drop it in your
     chaos area. You'll not only keep your deuce-destroying area 
     pristine, but you'll get more points by using the destroyer
     to its fullest (see destroyer section below), as opposed to 
     wasting it on deleting a four-square block.

  2. If you make a delete in your deuce section when the time line is
     part of the way through the deuce sction, only part of the delete
     could be deleted. This is bad, and will screw up your deuce area.
     So, whenever you're dropping a deuce, pay particular attention to 
     the time line. Drop only when you're sure that: a) You can drop
     before the timeline arrives at your four-square-wide deuce area,
     or, 2) Drop only after it has cleared

  3. If you get too many deuces dropping in a row, drop them as you
     would if the inner or leftmost blocks had already deleted. Once
     the anticipated blocks delete, your pattern will restore and you
     can continue.

  4. If you mess up the pattern, try to build a new "floor" and create
     the pattern again on top of it. Barring that, just keep playing.
     Imagine you're the piano player in a western saloon. Those dudes
     never stop playing, even when the gunfire breaks out. Neither should
     you. ;-)


C. Strategies for towers

Sooner or later, you'll have blocks stacked together forming towers,
or empty space behind next to stacks of blocks. Either way, you have
a tower space you need to get rid of.

For these, your best bet will be to attack them from the bottom. Look at
the bottom two squares and see what you'll need to match them with.
If they're checkerboarded, like this..

 -----
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- 
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- 
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- 
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- 
 
...you're hosed. you can do anything with them. However, if they're
like this..

 -----
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |  |
|  |  |
 ----- 
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
|--+--|
|  |  |
|  |  |
 ----- 
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- 
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- 

...you've got a fighting chance. Drop something like this...

 -----
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |  |
|  |  |
 ----- 
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
|--+--|
|  |  |
|  |  |
 ----- 
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 ----- ----- 
|XX|XX|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|XX|XX|
|--+--+--+--| 
|  |XX|XX|XX|
|  |XX|XX|XX|
-------------

...and, well, you get the idea. 


8. The phases of the game
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

It helps to think of a game of Lumines as several games, or phases,
each with its own optimum strategy.

 A. The early phase. This encompasses the first few blocks, and the
    next few, if you're lucky enough to use them right. In this phase,
    you want to concentrate on both: 1) deleting all blocks of one color,
    which gets you pointage, or; 2) deleting all blocks on the screen
    entirely, which gets you even more mondo pointage. 

    If you're skilled enough to do both these things a few times in the
    first 10 or so blocks, you'll "start" the game with several tens
    of thousands worth of points.

    To help with that, see below, in the section on Puzzle Mode, the 
    solution to the "Clear All" puzzle. There's a technique to clear
    the screen of all blocks that will get your mind thinking right
    about how to do this. I've used similar techniques several times
    in the early parts of the game to build up lots of points before
    even starting the next phase, which is...


 B. The middle phase. This is the phase that lasts most of the game. If
    The early phase lasts maybe 30 seconds or a minute, the middle phase
    can last hours. In this phase, you want to put together everything
    you've learned playing Lumines, avoiding checkerboard, managing treys
    and oneys, and using time line tricks, combos and destoyers to pop
    your scores even higher.

 C. The last phase. This comes when the screen gets nearly full, and 
    is a different length for different people. Depending on how well
    you handle the frantic activity of making squares under pressure,
    this can last either a few seconds or a few minutes. Here, there's
    not a lot of tricks to offer; your instincts and luck with either
    pull you through for a few extra points, or you'll go down fast.


9. The pause button
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Don't forget that if things start getting too crazy, you can always pause
the game by hitting the start button, and study the screen.


10. An aside
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Interesting thought: Compare Lumines to Tetris. 

Tetris' complexity is actually fairly simple: 
  
  Rotate different shapes and drop them to clear lines.

In Tetris, leftovers can be dealt with from above, assuming you don't
cap a hole with another falling shape. The challenge comes from the 
order in which the shapes fall, how fast they fall, and whether you
can maneuver them to fill the spaces you've left yourself to deal 
with. And, of course, whether your feeble attempts only allow you 
to create holes you must cap later, requiring you to start over with 
a new floor.

Tetris is genius, and I don't mean to suggest otherwise. It's
particularly cool because its game concept is so simple it can be
grasped by very young children. Yet it's compelling enough to 
hold the attention of people who society would consider adults,
like me ;-). 

Contrast that to Lumines, whose main complexity is:

  Rotate versions of the same shape and drop them to clear blocks.

The differences, basically, are that there are a lot more ways you
can trip yourself up by not managing leftovers; you can do what 
the game asks you (create deletes) from the side, as well as the
top, and there are some neat ways to be a hero with combos and 
destroyers. It's a bit more complex a game than Tetris, and a small
child couldn't grasp it quite as quickly as Tetris.

Personally, I don't think you could have Lumines in a world that 
didn't have Tetris first.

I take that back: Of course you could. I guess what I mean is that you
wouldn't be in a position to truly get caught up in a game of this 
complexity if Tetris hadn't made falling blocks seem so simple.

At first, I had a hard time deciding which I preferred, Tetris or
Lumines. I came to the early conclusion that both games' creators 
made magic with the technology and the player-receptiveness they 
had available to them at the time. And I still stand by that
statement.

   And yet......

There are bigger--and more important--differences between the two
games that kept gnawing at me, and made me ultimately decide 
that one of them is better than the other--for _me_, at least. 

One of those differences, in my mind, is that Lumines is more 
"pure" than Tetris. By this, I mean that more of the gameplay in 
Lumines revolves (pun intended) around using a single shape 
(a block) in as many ways as possible, and in as many facets 
of the game, as possible.

In fact, the gameplay in Lumines is significantly enhanced by (not
degraded by) the apparent simplicity of the recurring use of a single
shape. The downside, if you'd call it that, and I wouldn't, is that
the game is slightly more difficult to  understand at first, mainly 
because it requires you to "see" negative shapes and create positive
shapes within them. <-- wow, dude, that's deep!

Think of it this way: The main symetry or "purity" of the original
Tetris is that each block is made up of four squares, which is kinda
cool in its own right. But beyond that, Tetris has been made 
"difficult" or "balanced" by the very artificial, non-random order 
in which the blocks fall. To oversimplify, you get, for example, far
fewer blocks with four squares in a single line than you do any other 
type of block. In fact, you can significantly change the level of 
difficulty of Tetris by changing the artifically derived frequency
that each block appears in the game--as anyone who has every coded 
a Tetris game for a class project can tell you.

Lumines uses 16 different blocks (actually six blocks in 16 unique
orientations), and drops them with equal frequency, which is in no way
artifically tweaked. Me, I appreciate touches like that.

The other big difference comes in how the two games approach the 
concept of increasing game difficulty in upper stages.

To make Tetris' difficulty ramp up as the game levels up, the only 
thing the designer changed is the speed at which the blocks fall. 
This is meant to stop you at some point by the use of brute force.
Meaning: even the greatest can only go so fast, and, at some point, 
the speed becomes so great that you can't make your fingers keep
up with your brain. It becomes, in the end, not a mental challege, 
but a physical one.

Frankly, to me, that's a cop out way to beat someone ;-) And that, 
really, is where I become disenchanted with Tetris. 

Simply: Tetris starts as a thinking-person's game, and ends as 
a twitch game.

Since I like thinking games more than twitch games, I lean toward 
Lumines. Some may disagree, but hey, it's my FAQ ;-)

Now consider Lumines (again)...

Lumines, in contrast, uses blocks of a single shape, with only
two colors, with a simple goal. To keep it from being _too_ simple,
and, by extension, beatable, Tetsuya Mizuguchi introduced the time line
and the destroyer block. This is the part of the game that takes you
five minutes to grasp, instead of Tetris' two minutes.

But the time line and the destroyers fundamentally change how a
game designer can monkey with the complexity. Instead of simply
ramping up how fast the blocks fall until you're crushed by the
sheer weight of them, Lumines relies on the speed of the time line
and the speed of the blocks--and different color-and-shape treatments
for the squares used to build the blocks. The key, however, is that
none of those changes ever becomes a ridiculous attempt to crush you;
they can both be dealt with with different playing strategies.

Ergo, a game of Lumines has ebbs and flows. When the timeline goes
slow you can be Mr. Hero Destroyer Block Man. When it goes fast
you can get rid of deletes like a madman. When the blocks change
color you must force yourself to adjust how you "see" them--and 
make that adjustment nimbly. You can almost "feel" the new skin sink
into your mind and reactions when it changes. And when you find that
"zone," you can play Lumines seemingly forever, to some ridiculously
high scores (at least one person on the net claims to have maxed
out the high score at 999,999--go, dog go!).

In the end, to me, a high score in Lumines is more an effective 
measure of how well you can think on your feet, interpret what 
you see and react your playing strategies to a dynamic environment.
In contrast, beyond a certain point, a high score in Tetris 
is a measure of how quickly you can move your thumbs.

I'm not sure I'm saying that one game is better than the other, 
per se (both really are genius). But I am saying this: Since I prefer
thinking-type puzzle games to twitch-type puzzle games, I like Lumines
better.

You? You may think differently. Ain't the world a wonderful place ;-)

Lastly, in thinking of Lumines, it's amazing that no one thought of
this game before. Lumines is one of those rare games that, as soon
as you see it, seems so simple, logical and intuitive that you can't
imagine that someone didn't do it before. Start to think about it
and break it down, and you realize its complexity and depth, and you
start to realize why it took so long to show up.

Thanks Tetsuya!

Got a thought comparing the two? I'd love to hear it. Mail to:
trashmail@columbus.rr.com

-----

Here's another thought, from Alvyn Villanueva, a big Tetris Attack
fan, who sees a few echos of that block-destroy game (mainly involving
the timeline and combo system) in Lumines.

  I like your bit of sun-tzu-style-philosophy take on the arrangement 
  of blocks. Maybe I'm not the first to mention this to you, but I
  have an interesting thought that I'd like to incude in your "aside"
  section that compares Tetris and Lumines.

  Not only can you compare Lumines to Tetris, but you can also
  compare it to another favorite puzzle game of mine. Its called Tetris
  Attack / Pokemon Puzzle League / Puzzle de pon.

  If you havent played Tetris Attack, the premise in this game is
  to make a match of 3, like in Columns.  Instead of falling blocks,
  The field fills slowly with rising blocks of a set pattern. You have
  a cursor where you can switch any two blocks to make a match. The
  beauty of this game, is the ability to make new chains with the blocks
  that fall. There's an in-depth method to this called ChainBrain that
  even has its own strategy website devoted to it: www.tetrisattack.net

  Anyway what I want to compare with lumines is the comboing
  system. They share a similarity in the way you manipulate the pieces.
  In lumines you can arrange the blocks so that the falling blocks form
  new deletes.  The key is that not only can you chain vertically, but
  with horizontally adjacent blocks as well, so that the chain flows
  from left to right, top to bottom as the sweep line flows. This
  develops the same kind of thinking as ChainBrain, and I'm sure we'll be
  seeing videos of small japanese kids greating chains of ten blocks
  blazing across the screen. (Editor's note--I sure hope so!)
 
  How the two games contrast is in their approach. In Lumines you
  start with a blank canvas for you to project the complex chains you
  see in your mind. Whereas in Tetris Attack, you have a canvas
  already painted that you fix and rearrange into a complex chain of
  events.

  Well, I hoped I explained clearly enough so that you can see the
  similarities as i do. I have been playing and trying to improve on
  TetrisAttack for more than four years now, and just barely started on
  Lumines. I immediatley noticed thsi striking similarity in design and
  thought it was worthy of writing down and saving for my own thoughts. 
  Then I came across your FAQ along with the other 4 FAQs on
  gamefaqs.com, and yours was the only one that had insight, so I thought
  I'd share this with you as I'd think you would appreciate it. (Editor's
  note: I do! Thanks, Alvyn!)  Anyway, Tetris atack is a great and deep 
  game in itself and provides as a wonderful complement to Lumines and 
  the infamous Tetris.

Thanks, Alvyn! I'm going to have to track down a version of TetrisAttack
and give it a try. Other puzzle game freaks may want to do the same.

---

Here's some more insight from Jewl, who is obviously pretty serious about
Lumines--and more power to her. Those of you who aspire to max out the
game at 999,999,999 would benefit from her take.
 
  Hey de ho.  Something of a puzzle game fan, lumines is my current
  favorite, up  there with kirby's avalanche, read your FAQ and thought
  I'd email with various tibits. (Editor's note: tried Klonoa? It rocks.)

  Totally agree with you on the tetris vs lumines thing, tetris
  blatently forces one out of the game with excessive speed, while
  lumine's challenges one intellectually, there's even that nice
  few-second pause at the top, before the block begins to fall, that
  allows one time to think, or allows the time-slider to delete blocks,
  or finish a combo. Once you've gone through all the skins one time,
  though (level 100 is the last skin, that stays for a few levels then
  begins cycling through them again) all the skins reappear with a
  considerable speed boost.  You still get varying time slider speeds
  (which can actually trip you up on some levels, if you're not careful
  with block management, or careful with how fast you drop the blocks,
  the stack of deletes just piles on the page, and since the they don't
  dissapear until the time-slider's completed it's pass, you may be
  forced into dying by a glowing stack of blocks), but the rate at which
  the block falls seems locked above a certain point.  It may be that
  every level is x2 or x1.5 times it's original rate, but I'm not
  certain of this, as I haven't timed it.  The THIRD time through all
  the skins however, the skins are in a different order, and it just
  goes really, really fast.  So, at a certain point, lumines starts
  doing the same thing tetris does...  only tetris does it around level
  15-30 (depending on version, speed and skill) while lumines does it
  around...  300+ something.  Also, lumines maintains the little delay
  before the drop up 'till the end..  so theoretically, it could be much
  longer.  :)

  However, by the time you're going through the skins for the third
  time, you really should be around 999,999,999, at which point the
  score stops going up (sucks, I know -and please note, this takes a few
  hours to get to-) so it's really a moot point anyway.

  Also, on managing the deuces, I actually find it far simpler simply to
  drop it on a "nub".  Especially if you switch it so the base colors
  match, it gives you a nice little thing of pairs. This can be done on
  really any edge, as long as you watch how it drops, and would free up
  a great deal of your screen, since you wouldn't need the little
  managing zone.

  As for the threys, if you keep your screen sufficiently clear, you can
  contiously drop them on nubs to get single color bonuses.  Pairs can
  just drop over the side, it'll clear itself, and more single color
  bonuses.  With careful block 'n drop management, I've gotten 8-15
  single color bonues in a row using this method (haven't exactly
  counted, just know it's a lot... get too caught up in the game to
  really keep my mind on counting them out (n_n);).  Keeping the blocks
  somewhat condensed seems to work best, expanding or contracting your
  little field of chaos as need be.

  As for time-attack, it's an awesome place to train for vs cpu mode. 
  Personally, although this probably depends on how you play, my towers
  of junk tend to flucuate, they pile up as I toss combos together, then
  I use the underlying bricks to add to my current combo, placing
  like-colored blocks near others, eventually working back down to bare
  surface, then spreading out long thin combos, or starting to pile up
  again.  Especially as the rough percentage of one color over another
  flucuates, I glance over what's coming up, then set massive combos of
  all silvers, or all oranges, depending on surrounding blocks and the
  predominant color, often switching between the two as the time slider
  clears out all of one and leaves remnants of the other behind.

  What's kinda sad is running out of things to do in the game.  As far
  as keeping interest up, getting time-attack records higher then the
  number of seconds is a fun exercise.  Current record for the 60-second
  time attack is 82, kinda doubt I'm going to beat that soon, but still
  working on getting the 600-second record above above 600, kinda stuck
  around the 570 area....
 

  Anyway, that's all for now.  Hope it helps.


Actually, Jewl, it helps a lot. Maybe now I'll get as high as you--
speaking of scores, of course. (I bow to your 570 score in 600 time attack
You rule!) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!



11. Time attack modes
-------------------------------------------------------------------

These are simply timed modes where you must make as many deletes as 
possible. There's only a few things to keep in mind here.

60-second mode is probably my favorite in the entire game, because
it's short enough that you don't have to worry about filling the
whole screen with junk; there just isn't enough time. You can just 
have fun throwing blocks together to make combos like crazy. Most
of what you'll use here involves quick reflexes, dropping blocks
early with the down arrow and occasionally--but not very often--
waiting for the time-line.

To get a good score, concentrate on combo-ing every single drop,
and then combo-ing your combos.

With the longer modes, it's actually possible to fill up the screen,
especially in the center, which can cramp your style, so play will
involve a bit more block management, and a bit less willy-nilly
block-throwing.

Time attack mode is a great way to learn the finer points of the game.
Get good here, and your scores in the regular game with shoot to 
the stratosphere.



12. Puzzle mode and solutions
-----------------------------

Puzzle mode is cool, actually. It offers a new way to enjoy Lumines,
and it's actually kind of neat that after you've spent a lot of time
learning to make blocks, you must unlearn all that to make very specific
shapes. 

Once you Port-O-Let your block skills, though, you find that you can very
quickly build on what you know. It's like speed learning.

There are a couple things to keep in mind when it comes to puzzle mode.

Generally, you build patterns in puzzle mode by waiting for the right
blocks to come along, and then rotating them and dropping them in the
right place. (There may be a faster way, but I can tell you that this
way actually works.) 

In practical terms, this means you have to manage the blocks you don't
need for your pattern, and you manage them by creating a separate
area for them, where you concentrate on making deletes.

Depending on the shape required, I usually build from the left part of 
the screen, and use the right part of the screen to get rid of the blocks
I don't need. Play two games: Build on the left and destroy on the right.
When you're getting rid of blocks you don't need, use all your skills: do
it quickly and be efficient. Sometimes you'll have to wait a very long
time for the blocks you need, and if you're sloppy about making deletes,
you can lose the game by filling up the board or not using enough blocks
for the key later blocks--or patterns of blocks--to show up.

So, yeah, I guess you don't totally Port-O-Let your block skills. You
just add more skills. 

Lastly, do one thing before you begin each puzzle. Spend some time 
studying the design you're supposed to make. It's on the right side 
of the screen when you highlight the puzzle, before you press
the "X" to begin the puzzle.

  Things to keep in mind  while doing puzzles:

    1)   Think wide: The key in puzzle mode is that you must create
         the shape (shown on the right side of the PSP screen) while
         also surrounding it with squares of the opposite color--or,
         no blocks at all. If you've built a white horse, having an 
         extra white block touching it somewhere is a very bad idea.
         As a matter of fact, it won't work at all.
 
    2)   Support your blocks: Just completing the shape isn't quite
         enough. If part of your shape hangs off in space and falls,
         then it won't count. In practice, that means you must support
         all blocks from underneath, meaning you have to think about
         how you surround the shape with opposite colors.
 
    3)   If you get in a jam, hit the pause button (the "start" button)
         and study the screen. From a designer standpoint, it's a shame
         you can do this, but from our standpoint, it rules. Pausing
         lets you take a moment to see: your current piece, the shape
         you must make, the upcoming three pieces, and how you're doing
         building the shape. Take all this in at your leisure, go get
         something to drink, take a nap, go to work, whatever.

    4)   Blocks appear in random fashion in many puzzles This means that
         waiting for the right blocks may take some time--and may not
         work at all the first time. Just try again. It will work.

    5)   If you can't get what you want in a puzzle that requires, say,
         a lot of the same piece, remember that you can always build the
         piece you need. If, for example, you need one a million of these...

         -----
        |XX|  |
        |XX|  |
        |--+--|
        |XX|XX|
        |XX|XX|
         ----- 


         ...you can build them as you go out of, say, this combo delete...


         -----
        |XX|  |
        |XX|  |
        |--+--|
        |  |  |
        |  |  |
         ----- 
         -----
        |  |  |
        |  |  |
        |--+--|
        |XX|XX|
        |XX|XX|
         ----- 
       
        ...There are other ways to build nearly all the pieces, but you get 
           idea. 
     
     6) Building pieces you need really comes in handy when you accidentally
        position a piece wrong and you'd otherwise have to quit and start the 
        puzzle over. In situations like this, it's best to pause the game, 
        study what you've built, and figure out what piece you'd need to add
        on top of your mis-placed piece to build what you really need.
        
        Remember, just because the designers coudn't make the pause button
        not work is no reason that you have to ignore it. If you get in a
        jam as the time ticks down, pause and study.

     

To get the most fun out of the game, go ahead and try and solve each
puzzle with the info above. It'll be vastly more fun. If, however, you want
clear solutions, read on...


Puzzle Solutions
----------------

Many of these are not the only ways to solve the puzzles, but they are
_a_ way..

 A. Small Cross
 _____   
|  |  |
|  |  |
|--+--| 
|  |XX| 
|  |XX| 
 -----   
 _____  _____   
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |XX||  |  | 
|  |XX||  |  | 
 -----  ----- 

 B. Small Square  

 _____  _____   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 

 C. Small Checker

 _____  _____   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 _____  _____   
|  |XX||  |  | 
|  |XX||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 

 D. Dog

 _____  _____   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||XX|XX| 
|XX|  ||XX|XX| 
 -----  ----- 
 _____  _____   
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 

 E."A"

 _____  _____   
|  |XX||  |  | 
|  |XX||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 _____  _____   
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 

 F. Giraffe

        _____   
       |  |  | 
       |  |  | 
       |--+--| 
       |XX|XX| 
       |XX|XX| 
        ----- 
 _____  _____   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 _____  _____   
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 

 G. Aligator

               _____  
              |  |  | 
              |  |  | 
              |--+--| 
              |  |XX| 
              |  |XX| 
               -----   
 _____  _____  _____  _____   
|XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--||--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||XX|  ||XX|  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||XX|  ||XX|  ||  |  | 
 -----  -----  -----  -----   

 H. Create 4x4

This one is tricky in that major parts of it can't actually
exist. To be more specific, they can only exist for a very
short time--that time when a delete is highlighted and you 
can drop something else on it. Here's what I mean: It's very easy
to create this:

 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||  |XX|
|XX|  ||  |XX|
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
 -----  -----    
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||  |XX|
|XX|  ||  |XX|
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
 -----  -----    

...which deletes the center block to produce this...

 --        --
|XX|      |XX|
|XX|      |XX|
+--+      +--+ 
|XX|      |XX|
|XX|      |XX|
+--+      +--+ 
|XX|      |XX|
|XX|      |XX|
|--+--  --+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
 -----  -----    

Now, the tricky part. You have to throw the unused blocks to the 
sides, and you have to be smart about it and produce deletes, since
you'll be waiting a long time for the right pair of blocks to come
up. Me, I had to wait quite a while, and I'm guessing you will, too.
And since the same blocks don't drop in the same order every time, 
you may have to create the above pattern a couple times on a couple
replays before you get what you're waiting for. Hey, I said it'd be 
easy; I never said it'd be instantaneous.

You can see three blocks in advance, so when you see the two you 
want,time dropping the first one so that it's just after the time 
line passes the empty space, then drop these two, one after the 
other, before the timeline comes back...

    _____   
   |  |  |
   |  |  |
   |--+--| 
   |XX|XX| 
   |XX|XX| 
    -----   
    _____   
   |XX|XX| 
   |XX|XX| 
   |--+--| 
   |XX|XX| 
   |XX|XX| 
    ----- 
 --       --
|XX|     |XX|
|XX|     |XX|
+--+     +--+ 
|XX|     |XX|
|XX|     |XX|
+--+     +--+ 
|XX|     |XX|
|XX|     |XX|
|--+-- --+--| 
|XX|XX|XX|XX| 
|XX|XX|XX|XX| 
 -----  -----    

...and Gooooaaaaaaaallllll! If you don't get the pair you're waiting for,
try again. It took me a few tries.

 I. Smile


 _____  _____   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
 -----  ----- 
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |XX||  |  | 
|  |XX||  |  | 
 -----  ----- 

 J. Horse

This one is interesting in that it shows you can't have blocks hanging
out in space in puzzle mode. You need something to support your blocks,
and you must surround the puzzle with other-colored blocks. The key 
thing here is that you must support the horse's "muzzle" with blocks
from underneath, and they must be a contrasting color to the horse
itself.


           _____   
          |XX|  | 
          |XX|  | 
          |--+--| 
          |XX|XX| 
          |XX|XX| 
           ----- 
 _____  _____   _____  
|  |  ||  |XX| |  |XX|
|  |  ||  |XX| |  |XX|
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |  |XX|
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |  |XX|
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX|
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX|
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX|
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX|
 -----  -----   -----

This will be an important element as puzzle mode continues.

 K. Arrow up

        _____   
       |  |  | 

       |  |  |
       |--+--| 
       |XX|  | 
       |XX|  | 
        ----- 
 _____  _____   _____  
|  |XX||XX|XX| |  |  |
|  |XX||XX|XX| |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|  ||XX|  | |XX|  |
|XX|  ||XX|  | |XX|  |
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |  |
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|  ||XX|  | |XX|XX|
|XX|  ||XX|  | |XX|XX|
 -----  -----   -----

Note that the bottom left and right pieces are designed to
do two things: 1) support the blocks above them (without
creating a block that disappares, while also 2) making sure
that no like-colored blocks are touching the puzzle shape.

 L. Arrow left
 _____  _____   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||  |XX| 
|  |  ||  |XX| 
 -----  -----  
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |  |
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |XX||XX|XX| |XX|XX|
|  |XX||XX|XX| |XX|XX|
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |  |
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|  ||  |XX| |  |XX|
|XX|  ||  |XX| |  |XX|
 -----  -----   -----


Again, the bottom left and right blocks are designed to 
do two things: 1) support the blocks above them (without
creating a block that disappares, while also 2) making sure
that no like-colored blocks are touching the puzzle shape.

 M. Arrow right

 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |  ||  |  | |  |  |
|  |  ||  |  | |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |  ||  |XX| |  |  |
|  |  ||  |XX| |  |  |
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|  |  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |XX||XX|XX| |XX|XX|
|  |XX||XX|XX| |XX|XX|
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|  |  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |  |
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |  |
 -----  -----   -----

Bottom left block designed to support and not delete at the same
time.


 N. Arrow down
        _____    
       |  |  | 
       |  |  | 
       |--+--| 
       |  |XX| 
       |  |XX| 
        -----  
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |  ||  |XX| |  |  |
|  |  ||  |XX| |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX|
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX|
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____  
|  |  ||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|  |  ||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|  ||  |XX| |  |  |
|XX|  ||  |XX| |  |  |
 -----  -----   -----

 O. Infinity

 _____  _____  
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
 -----  -----  
 _____  _____   _____  
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |  ||XX|  | |XX|  |
|  |  ||XX|  | |XX|  |
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|XX|  ||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|XX|  ||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|  ||  |  | |  |  |
|XX|  ||  |  | |  |  |
 -----  -----   -----

 P. Clear all

As far as I can tell, this is the first puzzle that does not 
use random blocks. This one drops blocks in a set sequence. This
actually makes it easier to beat. Here's the deal...

Drop the first blocks like this

    _____   
   |  |  |
   |  |  |
   |--+--| 
   |XX|XX| 
   |XX|XX| 
    -----   
      3
 _____  _____  
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||  |  | 
|XX|  ||  |  | 
 -----  -----  
   1      2

..while dropping block No. 3 when the time line has just cleared
the area, which will delete the center XX'd box to create this...

 _____  _____  
|XX|  ||  |  | 
|XX|  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||  |  | 
|XX|  ||  |  | 
 -----  -----  

..Now, while the six-block square above is still glowing, rotate
and drop the next block like this _before_ the time line gets
back. Timing is key. This may take a few tries, but learning
the timing is a good skill to know...

    _____   
   |XX|  |
   |XX|  |
   |--+--| 
   |  |  | 
   |  |  | 
    -----   
 _____  _____  
|XX|  ||  |  | 
|XX|  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||  |  | 
|XX|  ||  |  | 
 -----  -----  

...the eight-block area including the bottom six white squares and
the two white squares above it will delete, creating this...

 __           
|XX| 
|XX| 
|--+--  --
|XX|XX||  |
|XX|XX||  |
 -----  -- 

...onto which you rotate and drop the next block, thusly...

    _____   
   |  |  |
   |  |  |
   |--+--| 
   |XX|  | 
   |XX|  | 
    -----   
 __           
|XX| 
|XX| 
|--+--  --
|XX|XX||  |
|XX|XX||  |
 -----  -- 

...which creates this..

        __   
       |  |
       |  |
        --| 
       |  | 
       |  | 
        --   
    --  --
   |  ||  |
   |  ||  |
    --  -- 

..onto which you drop this...
 _____   
|  |  |
|  |  |
|--+--| 
|  |  | 
|  |  | 
 -----   

        __   
       |  |
       |  |
        --| 
       |  | 
       |  | 
        --   
    --  --
   |  ||  |
   |  ||  |
    --  -- 

...which makes the clouds part, the birds sing, and everything
disappear.

 Q. Big square

 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |  ||  |  | |  |  |
|  |  ||  |  | |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____  
|XX|  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|XX|  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|  ||XX|  | |XX|  |
|XX|  ||XX|  | |XX|  |
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|XX|  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|XX|  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
 -----  -----   -----

 R. Big G

 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |  ||  |  | |  |  |
|  |  ||  |  | |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____  
|XX|  ||  |  | |  |  |
|XX|  ||  |  | |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|  ||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|XX|  ||XX|XX| |XX|  |
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|XX|  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|XX|  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
 -----  -----   -----

 S. UFO

    _____  _____  _____ 
   |  |  ||XX|  ||  |  |
   |  |  ||XX|  ||  |  |
   |--+--||--+--||--+--|
   |XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|  |
   |XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|  |
    -----  -----  -----
 _____  _____  _____  _____   
|XX|  ||XX|  ||XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  ||XX|  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--||--+--||--+--| 
|  |XX||  |XX||  |XX||  |  | 
|  |XX||  |XX||  |XX||  |  | 
 -----  -----  -----  -----   

  Interesting aside on the UFO puzzle. Rctdaemon e-mailed to 
  note that this puzzle is different in the earlier Japanese 
  version. He says:

   I have the Japanese version of Lumines and I noticed that 
   there was a different puzzle where the UFO is in the US 
   Version in it called the Fylfot, which is a swastika.

   I’m not sure if you’d want to add this to your block faq 
   or not, but I figured I’d sent it anyways.

Actually, I find this quite interesting, since the swastika has
such symbolism for the U.S. and, presumably, other Allied powers
during WWII. The swastika, however existed in lots of cultures 
prior to Hitler hijacking it for his uses. Other cultures using 
the symbol include American Indian culture, and, presumably, 
Japanese culture as well. So, I read nothing into the change 
for the American market. But I do find such changes as this quite
interesting. (Kind of like how Hot Shots Golf is called something
different for the Europe release; would love to know why...)



 T. Human

 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |  ||  |  | |  |  |
|  |  ||  |  | |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |  |
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |  |
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____  
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|XX|XX||XX|XX| |XX|  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |  |
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |  |
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX|
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX|
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX|
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX|
 -----  -----   -----

 U. Snake

 _____  _____   _____  _____
|  |  ||  |  | |  |XX||XX|  |  
|  |  ||  |  | |  |XX||XX|  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--||--+--|
|  |XX||XX|XX| |  |XX||  |  |
|  |XX||XX|XX| |  |XX||  |  |
 -----  -----   -----  -----
 _____  _____   _____  _____
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX||  |XX|  
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |XX||  |XX|
|--+--||--+--| |--+--||--+--|
|XX|XX||  |XX| |XX|XX||  |XX|
|XX|XX||  |XX| |XX|XX||  |XX|
 -----  -----   -----  -----
 
 V. Big Checker

Waiting for all the deuces you need to make this happen
really requires that you get rid of your trash quickly
build left, make deletes right.

This is a good puzzle to get used to building the pieces
you need, as per tips Nos. 5 and 6 above.


        _____    
       |  |  |  
       |  |  |  
       |--+--|  
       |XX|  |  
       |XX|  |  
        -----   
 _____  _____   _____  
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |  |
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|  ||XX|  | |XX|  |
|XX|  ||XX|  | |XX|  |
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |  |
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |XX|
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |XX|
 -----  -----   -----

 W. Big Cross

 _____          _____ 
|  |  |        |  |  |
|  |  |        |  |  |
|--+--|        |--+--|
|XX|  |        |XX|  |
|XX|  |        |XX|  |
 -----          -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |  |
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |XX|
|  |  ||XX|  | |  |XX|
 -----  -----   -----
 _____  _____   _____ 
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |  |
|  |XX||  |XX| |  |  |
|--+--||--+--| |--+--|
|XX|  ||  |  | |XX|  |
|XX|  ||  |  | |XX|  |
 -----  -----   -----

 X. Delete over 20 blocks

This one just requires that you blow out 20 blocks. The trick is
that they don't have to be in the square shown on the outline on the
right side of the screen. They can be anywhere.

So, if you've been playing Lumines long, you know exactly how to do
that:

  1. Delete blocks like crazy until you get a destroyer block.

  2. Place the destroyer block in such a way that it can be easily
     completed, but don't complete it.

  3. Build a chain of like-colored squares that touch the soon-to-be-
     completed destroyer block that is at least 20 squares. The same-
     colored blocks must touch either horizontally or vertically
     (not diagonally).

  4. Drop the block that completes the destroyer, and when all your
     blocks light up, you'll clear the level.

Piece of cake, right?
 
 Y. Zero to three

This is the toughest of the first 26 puzzles, mainly because you really
have to manage leftovers well. The idea of the puzzle is to first make a
0, then make a 1, then a 2, then a 3. 

You have to make each numeral separately. If you make the 2 before the 1,
it won't work. The best way is to build at least two numerals at a time.
Just make sure you complete them in order. If your two needs one bocks
to finish, but your 1 still needs more, concentrate on the 1.

You may also have to clear away your leftovers from when an earlier numeral
clears, or you may have to build a new "floor" and build a new numeral 
on top of it. Stopping and pausing and building the pieces you need from
others with deletes, as per the tips above, will really come in handy here.

This is all you need to know to get through this one. For completeness' 
sake, here's the block layouts for each numeral.

0.
 _____  _____   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  -----  
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
 -----  -----  
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|XX|  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  -----  

1.
 _____   
|  |  | 
|  |  | 
|--+--| 
|XX|XX| 
|XX|XX| 
 -----   
 _____   
|  |XX| 
|  |XX| 
|--+--| 
|  |XX| 
|  |XX| 
 -----   
 _____    
|  |XX| 
|  |XX| 
|--+--| 
|  |XX| 
|  |XX| 
 -----   

2.
 _____  _____   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  -----  
 _____  _____   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  -----  
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||  |  | 
|XX|  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  -----  

3.
 _____  _____   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  -----  
 _____  _____   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  -----  
 _____  _____   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
 -----  -----  

 Z. Large O

Funny, I always thought the Large O was something else. ;-)

This one is a bit tougher, but only because you can't put a 
contrasting colored square in the middle of it, and if you don't
do that, you run the risk of deleting out the center section.
No fear, though. There's a trick that's pretty simple, really.
Build the shape below on the right; delete unneeded boxes quickly
on the left...
 _____     _____  
|  |  |   |  |  | 
|  |  |   |  |  | 
|--+--|   |--+--| 
|XX|XX|   |XX|XX| 
|XX|XX|   |XX|XX| 
 -----     -----  
 _____     _____  
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
|--+--|   |--+--| 
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
 -----     -----  
 _____  _____   _____ 
|XX|  ||  |  ||XX|  |
|XX|  ||  |  ||XX|  |
|--+--||--+--||--+--|
|XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|  |
|XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|  |
 -----  -----  -----

...Then, wait for the right two blocks to come up, wait until just
after the timeline comes by, and drop them both quickly, before the
timeline returns, like this:


        _____ 
       |  |XX| 
       |  |XX| 
       |--+--| ...drop this one second, but before the time line
       |XX|  |    comes back.
       |XX|  | 
        -----  

    _____ 
   |XX|  |  
   |XX|  | drop this one first 
   |--+--| 
   |  |  | 
   |  |  | 
    -----  
 _____     _____  
|  |  |   |  |  | 
|  |  |   |  |  | 
|--+--|   |--+--| 
|XX|XX|   |XX|XX| 
|XX|XX|   |XX|XX| 
 -----     -----  
 _____     _____  
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
|--+--|   |--+--| 
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
 -----     -----  
 _____  _____   _____ 
|XX|  ||  |  ||XX|  |
|XX|  ||  |  ||XX|  |
|--+--||--+--||--+--|
|XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|  |
|XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|  |
 -----  -----  -----

...to produce this...

    __     __ 
   |XX    |  |  
   |XX    |  |  
   |--|   |--| 
   |  |   |  | 
   |  |   |  | 
    --     --  
 _____ ___ _____  
|  |  |      |  | 
|  |  |   |  |  | 
|--+--|---|--+--| 
|XX|XX|XX |XX|XX| 
|XX|XX|XX |XX|XX| 
 ----- --- -----  
 _____ ___ _____  
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
|--+--|---|--+--| 
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
|XX|  |   |  |XX| 
 ----- --- -----  
 _____  _____  _____ 
|XX|  ||  |  ||XX|  |
|XX|  ||  |  ||XX|  |
|--+--||--+--||--+--|
|XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|  |
|XX|XX||XX|XX||XX|  |
 -----  -----  -----

Note that since you're only really concerned about the bottom two and
top right right squareas of the first dropper, and the bottom two
and top left squares for the second dropper, you could also use two
blocks like this, for example...

        _____ 
       |  |  | 
       |  |  | 
       |--+--| ...drop this one second, but before the time line
       |XX|  |    comes back.
       |XX|  | 
        -----  

    _____ 
   |  |  |  
   |  |  | drop this one first 
   |--+--| 
   |  |  | 
   |  |  | 
    -----  

...or a combination of this one, and the ones above. You get the idea.
This makes it easier to look for the correct two blocks that you'll
need to come in succession. You have more opportunities for it to 
appear.

No big deal, huh?

Do the first 26 puzzles, and you get a skin.


  AA. 2x puzzles. 

In these, you build the same thing as the first go-round, but you build it
twice. That means managing leftovers heavily, using blocks you don't want
effectively, and in many cases, perhaps building two shapes at once--making
sure not to complete both at the same time. Time becomes much more of a 
factor here.

At least,that's the advice for every puzzle except the "Clear All x2", which 
is the second puzzle, which, to my knowledge, has a set order of falling
blocks. That will be dealt with two three paragraphs below this one.

Also, for the rest of the 2x puzzles, consider a technique suggested by 
Derek Kisman comes in handy for the 2x puzzles: Time your completion 
of the puzzle just as the time line crosses only the rightmost column of 
blocks or so. That way, you only have to rebuild part of the whole pattern.
This makes things stupid simple. Thanks, Derek!

Of course, it should be obvious that the hardest of the puzzles to do in 2x
style would be the "One to Three." Expect to take a few tries on that one :-)
Do all the puzzles in their 2x versions, and you're done. 
Plus, you get another skin


   The Clear All x2 solution.

Clear the first one as per "P" above, then get ready to clear all the blocks
using a mere 13 total blocks. Follow along.

...Start by giving yourself a little room--say three open blocks--on the left
side of the screen. then drop the first three blocks like this...

 _____  _____   _____ 
|XX|  ||  |XX||XX|  |
|XX|  ||  |XX||XX|  |
|--+--||--+--||--+--|
|XX|XX||XX|  ||  |XX|
|XX|XX||XX|  ||  |XX|
----------------------
   1      2      3

...then drop Nos. 4 and 5 like this...

                       _____   
                      |  |  | 
                      |  |  | 
                      |--+--| 
                      |XX|  | 
                      |XX|  | 
                       -----   
                          5
    _____   
   |XX|XX| 
   |XX|XX| 
   |--+--| 
   |  |  | 
   |  |  | 
    -----   
      4
 _____  _____  _____ 
|XX|  ||  |XX||XX|  |
|XX|  ||  |XX||XX|  |
|--+--||--+--||--+--|
|XX|XX||XX|  ||  |XX|
|XX|XX||XX|  ||  |XX|
----------------------

...which, in two passes of the timeline produces this....


           _____  _____  __ 
          |XX|XX||  |  ||  |
          |XX|XX||  |  ||  |
          |--+--||--+--||--|
          |  |  ||XX|XX||  |
          |  |  ||XX|XX||  |
----------------------------------

...into which you drop Nos. 6 and 7, thusly...

                   _____   
                  |XX|XX| 
                  |XX|XX| 
                  |--+--| 
                  |  |  | 
                  |  |  | 
                   -----   
                     7
           _____   
          |  |  | 
          |  |  | 
          |--+--| 
          |XX|XX| 
          |XX|XX| 
           -----   
             6

           _____  _____  __ 
          |XX|XX||  |  ||  |
          |XX|XX||  |  ||  |
          |--+--||--+--||--|
          |  |  ||XX|XX||  |
          |  |  ||XX|XX||  |
----------------------------------


The above series works with the timeline to produce 
this...



                         __ 
                        |  |
                        |  |
                        |--|
                        |  |
                        |  |
----------------------------------

...onto which you drop Nos. 8 and 9, like this...



             _____   
            |XX|XX| 
            |XX|XX| 
            |--+--| 
            |XX|XX| 
            |XX|XX| 
             -----   
               9

                   _____   
                  |XX|  |
                  |XX|  | 
                  |--+--| 
                  |XX|XX| 
                  |XX|XX| 
                   -----   
                     8   __ 
                        |  |
                        |  |
                        |--|
                        |  |
                        |  |
----------------------------------

...producing this....

                      _____ 
                     |  |  |  
                     |  |  |  
                     |--+--| 
                     |XX|  | 
                     |XX|  | 
-----------------------------------

...Hold on, now, we're in the home stretch. Drop
Nos. 10 and 11 and 12 like this..
                      _____   
                     |XX|  |
                     |XX|  | 
                     |--+--| 
                     |  |  |
                     |  |  | 
                      -----   
                        12
                _____   
               |XX|XX|
               |XX|XX| 
               |--+--| 
               |XX|  |
               |XX|  | 
                -----   
                  11
                _____   
               |XX|  |
               |XX|  | 
               |--+--| 
               |XX|XX|
               |XX|XX| 
                -----   
                  10  _____ 
                     |  |  |  
                     |  |  |  
                     |--+--| 
                     |XX|  | 
                     |XX|  | 
-----------------------------------


...which produces this....

                _____ _____   
               |XX|XX|XX|  | 
               |XX|XX|XX|  | 
               |--+--|--+--|  
               |XX|  |  |  | 
               |XX|  |  |  | 
                -----+-----   
               |XX|  |  |  | 
               |XX|  |  |  |  
               |--+--|--+--| 
               |XX|XX|XX|  | 
               |XX|XX|XX|  | 
-------------------------------------

...which in two passes of the timeline produces this...


                --       --   
               |XX|     |  | 
               |XX|     |  | 
               |--|     |--| 
               |XX|     |  | 
               |XX|     |  | 
-------------------------------------

...into which you drop lucky No. 13 thusly...
                   _____   
                  |XX|  |
                  |XX|  | 
                  |--+--| 
                  |XX|  |
                  |XX|  | 
                   -----   
                     13   

                --       --   
               |XX|     |  | 
               |XX|     |  | 
               |--|     |--| 
               |XX|     |  | 
               |XX|     |  | 
-------------------------------------


..and once again the clouds part, the birds sing,
and everything right with the world rises to the 
top like so much whipped cream in a root beer float.
(sniff. that makes me so sentimental ;-)



13. What's coming in future additions to this FAQ:
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 


I consider this Block FAQ pretty much complete at this point, but I may
add a few new sections in time. perhaps something on scoring; perhaps 
something on vs. mode. Who knows? ;-)

E-mail questions to:

 trashmail@columbus.rr.com

Usual disclaimers and no-reply warnings apply ;-)


14. Thanks
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Thanks to the folks that made this game possible--particularly its 
creator, Tetsuya Mizuguchi. I've played a pantload of games in my life, 
but this is the first game I've played that has moved me to write 
a FAQ--and that's saying something.

Thanks Tetsuya!


15. Postscript: The quest for the ultimate solution
    (which so far has proved difficult)
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 

When I first started playing with Lumines, I played with a lot of graph
paper, and I thought I had stumbled on the ultimate solution. I foolishly
called it "the elegant solution" and even included it in some early 
versions of this faq. I then took it out after I realized the solution 
was neither elegant nor solution ;-)

However, I've gotten a few e-mails about other tries at an ultimate
solution, so I thought I'd resurrect them here, mainly as a testament to
the genius of the game and the fact that it has defied an ultimate solution.

I give the credit to bringing all this back up to Casey Whitelaw, who has
a most excellent blog at www.caseyporn.com. He actually wrote a computer
program to find "loops" of blocks, something that he explains better than
me. If you're a student of Lumines, or even a fan, you'd do well to check
out his blog entries on the subject. Here's what he wrote:

   I really enjoyed your FAQ on Lumines, thanks very much. It took me a
   while to find it, and I thought I might have to write it myself, so I
   was very glad when I read it!

   The most interesting thing for me was the solution you proposed for
   dealing with deuces in a loop seperately to the other pieces, nice
   thinking. Anyway, I wrote a program to find loops like that for all
   the pieces, turns out that there's space for a loop for each
   block-type. I wrote it up on a web page:
   http://caseyporn.com/blog/archives/000819.html if you're curious.

   Cheers,

   Casey

Actually, I'm really impressed with the effort there, Casey. You came
up with a programme that is very similar to my earlier one, but 
probably more optimized with fewer wasted moves.

I'm including the information below, cribbed from my earlier FAQ, as 
an illustration of one possible "solution." As it turned out, this 
one was actually worked--for a short while. It was fairly stable up 
to about 25,000, depending on what kind of destroyers you got and 
how careful you were at managing the timeline--which is the real 
key to making this work. The end result was terribly boring, too, 
and took as much work as actually dealing with chaos the way 
the game intended.

As I say, I include it here for the interest of the very hardcore.
Funny. Now looking back, it sure seems breathless, but I leave it 
in its original glory, with all its faults. I guess I really did 
think I had found the solution. 



  The Elegant Solution 
  -----------------------------
It took me a while, but I finally figured out the way to "beat"
Lumines. 

It's boring as heck, and it doesn't have any of the great
saves and hero-block making of a "real" game,  but it works really
well. Your score tends to climb more slowly than a real game, since
you're not making all those coolio combos, but, then, you can always
go back to that after you use The Elegant Solution to unlock
everything. And I guess it is challenging to follow the pattern
strictly and time your drops behind the time line and all that.
But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Oh, what's that? You want me to stop wasting your time and get on 
with it? Fair enough :-)  First, the overview, then the specifics, 
then a few tips.


   A. Elegant Solution Overview
 
  Bascially, you want to create this pattern across the bottom of the
  grid...



           ----------- -----------     -----------
          |XX|XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |  |   |XX|  |  |XX| 
  Any     |XX|XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |  |   |XX|  |  |XX| 
 one of   |--+--+--+--|--+--+--+--|   |--+--+--+--| 
 three    |XX|  |  |XX|  |XX|XX|  |   |  |XX|XX|  | 
 blocks   |XX|  |  |XX|  |XX|XX|  |   |  |XX|XX|  | 
 shown     ----------- -----------     -----------
 below    |XX|  |  |XX|  |XX|XX|  |   |  |XX|XX|  | 
 under    |XX|  |  |XX|  |XX|XX|  |   |  |XX|XX|  | 
 number   |--+--+--+--|--+--+--+--|   |--+--+--+--| 
  "1"     |XX|XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |  |   |XX|  |  |XX| 
          |XX|XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |  |   |XX|  |  |XX|
-----------------------------------------------------------------
|  1  | 2 |     3     |     4     | 5 |     6     |
|     |   |           |           |   |           |
|     |   |           |           |   |           |
...using just the shapes below (except in the case of No. 1,when any one
   of three shapes can be used)...
|     |   |           |           |   |           |
|     |   |           |           |   |           |
|  1  | 2 |     3     |     4     | 5 |     6     |
 -----       -----        -----           -----    
|  |  |     |XX|  |      |  |XX|         |XX|  |  
|  |  |     |XX|  |      |  |XX|         |XX|  |  
|--+--|     |--+--|      |--+--|         |--+--|  
|  |  |     |XX|XX|      |  |  |         |  |XX| 
|  |  |     |XX|XX|      |  |  |         |  |XX| 
 -----       -----        -----           -----    
 
 OR
   |
  \ /

 -----
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
|--+--|
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
 ----- 

 OR
   |
  \ /

 -----
|  |  |
|  |  |
|--+--|
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
 ----- 

  ...Then, in square "1" you use any of the three shapes under "1" to
  make a delete every time you drop (or,in the case of a twoey, every
  other time you drop), and...

  ...in the remaining three 4x4 blocks (hereafter called "uber-blocks"),
  you use only the shape that built it to continue building it as 
  deletes are created. The way you drop each block throughout the game
  (shown in detail below) isn't exactly intuitive, at least not at 
  first, but the required drops are easy enough to pick up the first
  few million times you do it--and you'll be doing it a lot ;-).

  There are two other things to keep in mind: 1) You must be extremely
  careful about when you drop the block--the time line must have just
  passed the area; and 2) you can't screw up the drop pattern even once
  for however long you play--even being a quarter-turn off will hose
  you majorly, and you will be severly bummed.

  Do it right,though, and you can play as long as you want, building 
  your score as high as you want.

  I haven't tested this beyond about 25,000 points, because I got so
  excited that I stopped to write it down in this FAQ. I'd be interested
  to hear from folks who attempt to try this solution to bigger 
  scores: trashmail@columbus.rr.com.

  Pretty elegant, huh? Create/destroy/rebuild uber-blocks, all using
  only the one type of block that made them. Lumines becomes one giant
  circle-of-life thing of beatific wonder (and, unfortunately, much
  less mystery).


    B. Elegant Solution specifics
 

Clearing space No. 1

The technique for perpetually clearing the first two-square-wide
space is pretty obvious if you've played for more than about 20 
minutes. But for the sake of completeness, I'll spell it out in
detail.

A oney clears itself, thusly:

 -----
|  |  |
|  |  |
|--+--|
|  |  |
|  |  |
 ----- 

A quad clears itself, thusly:

 -----
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
|--+--|
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
 ----- 

A twoey clears itself when you stack it on top of a oney or quad in the 
proper orientation. Or, when two come in a row, stacked like this:

 -----            -----
|  |  |          |XX|XX|
|  |  |          |XX|XX|
|--+--|          |--+--|
|XX|XX|          |  |  |
|XX|XX|  ..or    |  |  |
 -----    this..  -----
 -----            -----
|XX|XX|          |  |  |
|XX|XX|          |  |  |
|--+--|          |--+--|
|  |  |          |XX|XX|
|  |  |          |XX|XX|
 -----            -----

The first space, then, is the easy-to-learn one, though the rest aren't that
hard, really, once you get the hang of them.


 Clearing the uber-block in space No. 3

First, you build it like this:

 -----
|XX|XX|
|XX|XX|
|--+--|
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
 -----
        _____   
       |XX|XX| 
       |XX|XX| 
       |--+--| 
       |  |XX| 
       |  |XX| 
        ----- 
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
 -----  ----- 


...which produces this...

 _____  _____   
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
 -----  ----- 
 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
---------------

...which deletes the center block to produce this...

 __        __   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
 --        -- 
 _____  _____   
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
---------------

...which deletes the bottom eight squares to produce this...

 __        __   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
---------------

Now, the next time you get the correct block, add it like this...

     _____   
    |  |XX|
    |  |XX|
    |--+--| 
    |XX|XX| 
    |XX|XX| 
     -----

 __        __   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
---------------


...which produces this...


 _____  _____   
|XX|  ||XX|XX| 
|XX|  ||XX|XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
|XX|XX||XX|XX| 
---------------

...which deletes the block on the right to produce this...


 _____   
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--| 
|XX|XX| 
|XX|XX| 
---------------

...which astute observers will note is the first building block
required to start building the uber-block all over again. So, as
it turns out, this block is one big ol' circle of life thing!
It grows, is torn down and grows again-all from using one single 
kind of block; in this case, a trey. 

Isn't it just a thing of beauty?

Oh. Sorry. I seem to be getting carried away. So. On to the next
uber-block, the one in slot No. 4



  Clearing the uber-block in space No. 4

This uber-block is simply a mirror image of the first one, so the 
drill goes as follows. First, build it like this...


 -----
|  |  |
|  |  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 -----
        _____   
       |  |  | 
       |  |  | 
       |--+--| 
       |XX|  | 
       |XX|  | 
        ----- 
 _____  _____   
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
 -----  ----- 


...which produces this...

 _____  _____   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 _____  _____   
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
---------------

...which deletes the center block to produce this...

 --        --   
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 _____  _____   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
---------------

...which deletes the bottom eight squares to produce this...

 --        --   
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
---------------

Now, the next time you get the correct block, add it like this...

     _____   
    |XX|  |
    |XX|  |
    |--+--| 
    |  |  | 
    |  |  | 
     -----

 --        --   
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
---------------


...which produces this...


 -----  -----   
|  |XX||  |  | 
|  |XX||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
---------------

...which deletes the block on the right to produce this...


 _____   
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
|--+--| 
|  |  | 
|  |  | 
---------------

...which is, as above, the first building block to start
the repeating circle of life that is this uber-blocks wonderful
future. Again: beauty, no?

Next up:


  Clearing the uber-block in space No. 6


I now present the one that gave me the toughest time trying to
figure out, the uber-block built of deuces...

First, you build it like this....

 -----
|XX|  |
|XX|  |
|--+--|
|  |XX|
|  |XX|
 -----
        -----   
       |  |XX| 
       |  |XX| 
       |--+--| 
       |XX|  | 
       |XX|  | 
        ----- 
 -----  -----   
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||  |XX| 
|  |  ||  |XX| 
--------------- 

...which creates this...

 -----  -----   
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 -----  -----   
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|  |XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

..which deletes the block in the middle to create this...

 --        --   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 -----  -----   
|  |  ||  |  | 
|  |  ||  |  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
|XX|  ||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

...which deletes the block in the center bottom to create this...


 --        --   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 --        --   
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
|--+      +--| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
 ------------- 

...then, when the next deuce comes up, drop it in like this...

     _____   
    |  |XX|
    |  |XX|
    |--+--| 
    |XX|  | 
    |XX|  | 
     -----

 --        --   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 --        --   
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
|--+      +--| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
 ------------- 

...which creates this....


 --        --   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 -----  -----   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

...into which you drop your next deuce, thusly...

     _____   
    |XX|  |
    |XX|  |
    |--+--| 
    |  |XX| 
    |  |XX| 
     -----
 --        --   
|XX|      |XX| 
|XX|      |XX| 
|--+      +--| 
|  |      |  | 
|  |      |  | 
 --        -- 
 -----  -----   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

...which produces this...

 -----  -----   
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|--+--||--+--| 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
 -----  ----- 
 -----  -----   
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|  |  ||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

...which (hold on, end is coming) deletes the block in the middle 
left, to produce this...


        -----   
       |  |XX| 
       |  |XX| 
       |--+--| 
       |XX|  | 
       |XX|  | 
        ----- 
 -----  -----   
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|XX|XX||XX|  | 
|--+--||--+--| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
|XX|XX||  |XX| 
 ------------ 

...which deletes the block on the lower left to produce this...

        -----   
       |  |XX| 
       |  |XX| 
       |--+--| 
       |XX|  | 
       |XX|  | 
        ----- 
        -----   
       |XX|  | 
       |XX|  | 
       |--+--| 
       |  |XX| 
       |  |XX| 
 ------------ 

Which astute observers will realize is the right two blocks that 
allow you to start building the uber-block again.

So, you see we've constructed here a logical way to use every block
that comes down the pipe, without allowing everything to go all
crazy and random. Lets all say it together...

HUZZAH!


 A few tips about The Elegant Solution


As I said, I haven't tested this beyond about 25,000 points, so I'd 
be interested to hear from folks who attempt to try this solution 
in an attempt to reach bigger scores: trashmail@columbus.rr.com. 
It's conceivable that there is some gameplay dynamic at work on the
higher levels that may make this not work beyond a certain point.

With that caveat, here are a few tips to keep in mind if you try
this.

  A. Timing is everything. Some drops you'll want to do just before
     the time line arrives, some you'll want to do just after. You'll
     get a feel from what you need to do by trying this for a few
     minutes. In my experience, bad timing is one of two ways this
     tends to get screwed up. This is especially true when the time
     line is only halfway through your creation when it you create
     your delete, and only the stuff to the right of the line
     disappears.

  B. The other easy way to screw this up? Deviate from the pattern.
     Do it and weep. I know I did.
   
  C. So far, destroyer squares don't seem to upset this; in my
     early experience they have only taken out the stuff that was
     going out anyway.
 
  D. Make sure a block has touched down before you start moving the
     next one. It's too easy to get hypnotised while you do this, and,
     wanting to get on with things, start moving the next block too 
     soon. What happens is you move your last block = waaaaahhhhh.

  E. It's possible I've overlooked something with the game dynamic
     at higher levels. If you find something and want to share, please
     let me know: trashmail@columbus.rr.com.

  F. Interesting note: The thing that makes this work is the two 
     uber-blocks that are touching. Without them touching, there 
     wouldn't be enough space on the grid to make this happen. Because
     they're contrasting colors, a delete on one doesn't "carry
     over" to the other. If any two uber-blocks had same-colored
     sides, deletes in one could blow holes in the other, and 
     vice-versa.

Lastly, for those who see The Elegant Solution as something that killed
a great puzzle game, I'm truly sorry. If it does, indeed, hold up through 
higher levels, then it would be all too methodical (still difficult, but
methodical) to achieve a full clear.

---end quoted material---

Of course, this turned out to be not so elegant, not so solution. But I 
include it here so that those in the Holy Grail quest for the ultimate
soltion at least have the benefit of Casey and my attempts. Anyone who
finds such a solution, I'd love to hear of it.

I e-mailed Casey with my kudos, noting that I've come to the conclusion
that this type of solution is a main reason why the creators may have
introduced the timeline and the destroyer block, and here is his reply....

  I gotta say, the three-wide loop for checkerboard pieces surprised 
  me too, who would have thought? The rest of the loops are optimal,
  I'm pretty sure, but there are a lot of variations that might be 
  easier/harder to remember, or more/less stable with regard to "early
  dropping" (before sweeps). 

  I'm curious too about whether the creators thought about this at all. 
  I'm going to see if I can dig up a contact address and ask them some 
  questions, you never know my luck! Honestly I don't think they 
  expected this - there are other, much better reasons for having a 
  timeline and destroyer-blocks for normal gameplay, not fixing this 
  "problem". Another thing I realised is that playing in this way 
  will keep your score very low, no cool combo action.

Thanks again, Casey. I've become a regular reader of your blog...



16. Copyright notice
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