Columns (Not as Ionic as Tetris)

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Okay, I’d just like to say that I’m really proud of the subtitle that I make. Get it? Ionic instead of Iconic? Because Ionic is a part of the Classic Order? Which is about columns? Comedy Platinum right here. Anyhoo, Columns. A simple title; just one word. Columns. Never heard of it? Well I wouldn’t be too surprised. It’s not a game many people talk about, for good reason too. Even though this game was an arcade game before a Game Gear and Genesis title, I believe that this was Sega’s answer to the Tetris on the Gameboy. Well, what just is Columns?

 

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Columns for Genesis Title Screen

Columns is a puzzle game first released in the arcades in 1990 by Sega. It then got ported to like 17 different consoles, for whatever reason. So what do you do in Columns? Well, for lack of a better word, columns of three differently colored jewels (They come in red, purple, yellow, and green in the Game Gear version which is the one we’re mainly going to talk about today.) fall from the top of the screen. You can move them left and right and change the order of the jewels in the column. When a column lands, if three or more of the colors match horizontally, vertically, or diagonally; they disappear, all of the jewels above the disappearing ones fall and you get points. Once in a blue moon; you get a special column with a multicolor jewel, which makes all of the jewels of the color you match it with disappear. When you reach a certain amount of points; you level up, and the blocks fall faster. If the columns fill up the play field; it’s game over. Pretty standard right? Well, it is standard, but it is fun; just nothing to write home about.

 

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Gameplay of Columns on the Game Gear

Well I don’t know about you, but Columns on the Game Gear looks great! Being a pack in title; you probably want the game to show off one of the selling points of the Game Gear; the color. The colors really pop. You couldn’t make Columns on the Gameboy, that’s for sure! They also do this thing when you level up; it transitions from day to sunset to night to sunrise; it’s a great way of showing progression and it looks cool to boot! Most of the Columns games use an Ancient Greek or Roman theme to them; as shown in the title screen to the Genesis and Arcade ones, and in the background to the Game Gear variant. However, all the praise that I give to the visuals; the audio leaves a lot to be desired. The three songs in the game are named after The Three Fates; Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, which is something to do which Greek mythology. Apparently, Clotho is the sister that chooses when people are born and when they die. Fitting, because the song she’s named after is as sullen as funeral. This is the main theme to a puzzle game; which are normally fun and fast paced. This is slow and methodical, which isn’t bad ; I happen to like Clotho a fair amount, especially the Game Gear version, but it just doesn’t fit the theme very well. Lachesis and Atropos aren’t much better either, they’re just kind of “Greek-ish” I suppose.

Overall, Columns is a fun puzzle game that tried to be Tetris like quite a few games at this time. If you want to play a puzzle game like Tetris, but isn’t Tetris; just stick to Dr. Mario instead. Also why didn’t this game’s sequel get called “Rows”? That’s a missed opportunity if I ever saw one.

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