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Lumines -- Puzzle Mode, Clear All x2

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Published on Jan 15, 2013

Well, at least this one's not nearly as long-winded as the previous one, so I don't feel bad about giving you another helping. I mean, I already feel bad enough about the previous one, but I don't plan to actually do anything to make amends... so you'll not only have to make do with that by itself, but you'll also have to take me at my word on that. I don't know that I particularly strongly advise doing either one of those, but I'm not giving you too many options on the matter.

I'm sure there must be some fire and pitchforks lying around from the last angry mob, though, so you could always get creative and think outside the box.

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Puzzle Mode
Puzzle 42: Clear All x2

Wait, wait, wait. Are you kidding me? This can't be right... because... you know... maybe these two videos got their running times mixed up. Infinity is a formation. Clear All is... made of pure evil by completely switching the formula up and making you play the game in its intended fashion instead of the way you've been playing it for most of the Puzzle Mode...

The first time I ran across it, I labeled it as-then public enemy number one... but I have to say that it's not really as bad as I'd thought, even if the prospect seems a little out of your own control. It's actually not as bad as it seems when you break it down, though. I actually did some rough and really... unsound analysis to help at least paint a picture of what we're really dealing with... okay, it's more like a scribble drawn with my non-dominant hand while I wasn't looking at the paper, but maybe someone will find it helpful.

Every Lumines piece (do they actually have a special cutesy or technical or defiantly pseudo-technical name like puyo and tetriminos do?) consists of four tiles in a 2x2 formation and each individual tile can be considered binary... either it's the light color or the dark color for the theme, in this case white and orange. If we consider each piece generated purely in this fashion, there are 16 possible combinations (2 binary "switch" states in groups of four, 2 to the fourth power is 16), but a large number of these generations will be rotations of each other. Let's break this down a little further.

One state which is composed entirely of dark squares.
Four states which are composed of one light square and three dark squares.
Four states which are composed of two contiguous light squares and two contiguous dark squares.
Two states which are composed of checkered light and dark squares.
Four states which are composed of one dark square and three light squares.
One state which is composed entirely of light squares.

Since any really detailed analysis is beyond the scope of what I'm trying to do here, at the very least, a large majority of the pieces you get will end up keeping the formation from getting any less complicated to clear away, and as the sheer open surface of contiguous same-color pieces expands, it should become at least manageable if not ripe for reduction as long as you don't unnecessarily checker the overall formation. On that note, be very sure that you address checkers by trying to clear something on one side or the other to remove a serious deathtrap for your dreams of All Clear.

The biggest reason why this is actually less difficult than it seems, which I'm actually apparently more than happy to demonstrate is that you can just start over immediately if you feel like you're getting too far out of control. No problem! And, for once, you chances are exactly as good of getting the second round completed as they were in the beginning, since your goal was to return the field to its original state in the first place.

One observation that I would share that I can't really quantify particularly is that while it feels less managed than building horizontally... as long as you don't damage the overall clearability of the stack, a vertical orientation will allow you to make gravity get off its lazy behind and help you clear things out. You'll just need to be careful in your placements and aware of how the material that falls will affect the overall lay of the land, and that IS a puzzle-centric skill.

Of course, all this theory is rendered completely moot by the actuality that the pieces are given to you in a set pattern... so all you need to do is figure out a solution that works and use that. I'm sure somebody else already has, but that's really not within the scope of what I'm trying to do here, and that is illustrate the point that there IS an underlying methodology and approach facilitated by the fact that it's intrinsically set up to be possible to reduce more than let things pile up, it's just not always obvious without a little bit of thought to keep things going in that direction, hence why things pile up naturally anyway.

Thus, the conclusion about the game at large I must draw is that if you build up enough pattern recognition, Lumines is theoretically more possible than not to continue playing indefinitely. (Hooray!)

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