Update: I had to add in some clarifications and a correction for a feature I thought the game had that it turned out it didn’t. Everything should be in order now, though!
Tetsuya Mizuguchi stumbled into game design. Don’t ask me how. His Wikipedia article says he just sort of got an interview at Sega in its good ol’ Genesis days and got a job. Previously, he’d been a media aesthetics major in college. Now, I don’t even know what a major like that entails, but obviously his roots have shown up in his games. The creator of games like Space Channel 5 and Rez, he’s shown an affinity towards being immersed in media of all kinds; visual AND auditory. Space Channel 5 was a loopy, kitschy escapade through a future as envisioned by a 1960s mod designer. It owed as much of its heritage to retro pop art as it did to Michael Jackson music videos (the King of Pop himself actually guest starred in the game). Rez… jeez, how do you even begin to explain Rez? At its simplest level, it’s a 3D on-rails shooter. At its most complex, it’s a way to experience synesthesia, a blending of the senses. Its visuals were ahead of its time, inspired by modernist painter Wassily Kandinsky. Every action the player took in the game triggered a sympathetic aural reaction that added to the game’s driving techno background music. Both games have become sleeper hits among discerning gamers.
But Mizuguchi’s studio inside Sega, United Game Artists, wasn’t long for this world and eventually it was absorbed into Sonic Team, causing Mizuguchi to leave Sega and form his own independent studio, Q Entertainment. Mizuguchi now seemed to be fascinated with puzzle games and created one for each fledgling handheld: Lumines for Sony PSP and Meteos for Nintendo DS. One of them became a breakaway hit spawning several spin-offs and a sequel. One did not. Guess which.