Mickey Mania (Now in Technicolor!)

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So I kinda like Disney. Let’s rephrase that; I LOVE classic animation. The amount of work it takes is absolutely staggering, and it’s better for it. With the introduction of computers; the usage of the hand drawn style of old isn’t used as much anymore, but some people use it now for a distinct style from the rest of the crowd (Cuphead for example). Let’s take a look at a game all about classic cartoons; Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse.

Mickey Mania is a platformer released by Traveler’s Tales and Sony Imagesoft in 1994. The game was released on the Genesis, Sega CD and SNES in 1994, and on the PlayStation in 1996. It was originally going to be released for Mickeys 65th birthday, but that idea was scrapped when they realized that would give them only six months to make the game. Mickey Mania involves Mickey (what a surprise) traveling back in time to various locations from his past to retrieve his past selves to stop Pete from doing whatever the hell Pete does. This is a simple platformer; run, jump, throw projectiles, solve simple puzzles; the works. Since this a shorter game, I’ll be structuring this by level. So with out further ado…

Steamboat Willie (November 18th, 1928)

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Yes, that goat is the first enemy of the game. Buckle up folks; this is gonna be a doozy.

 

You know Steamboat Willie; don’t you? Even if you haven’t seen the cartoon; everybody and their goldfish knows that classic whistle. The level is the first level, so it’s a walk in the park, however for what it lacks in challenge; it makes up in charm. There’s references from the original cartoon oozing from every nook and cranny in this level; heck the game as a whole is charming! I’ll talk you through the level. It starts with Mickey traversing the iconic steamboat while dodging music notes, steam, cats and chickens. You pass Mickey’s Steamboat counterpart on the way to the next part of the stage; the wharf. In the wharf; you’re bouncing on clones of that jerk parrot from the original cartoon and for some reason; the world gains color. Your path is blocked by Captain Pete, but the game tells you to take an alternate route and ring some bells. For whatever reason; Pete doesn’t like the bells, so he walks away. Now you fight Pete; who barely puts up a fight (All he does is spit tobacco at you), and promptly kill him. Level one’s not even over and Mickey has already committed Homicide. You jump on his corpse, jump on some falling boxes, then it’s boss time!

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This is the boss. Two boxes dropping bombs and sometimes springs. You use the springs to  bounce up and throw marbles at the gears to break them. That is the boss. Also while playing the game for this article; I glitches this boss. While throwing a marble at the last gear I needed to break; I got hit and died, but I died at the same time I hit the gear and won the boss; so I saw the death animation but still got the win message. Weird huh? Well on to visuals and music, and hot diggity dog; does this game look great! The stretchiness of the character’s actions, the animation on the sprites, the details in the background; it looks wonderful. The music is pretty good too! I’m playing the SNES version of this game so keep that in mind. It doesn’t use the classic Steamboat whistle we are all aware of; which is honestly refreshing; it uses a nice tune nonetheless. The Wharf theme is good too; even though it reminds me a little bit of Elmo’s Song for some reason. I had to google and listen to Elmo’s Song for this blog. I’ve lost control of my life. Oh well, moving along.

The Mad Doctor (January 20th, 1933)

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From this level on, I’ll try to speed things along. The game allows you to take five hits before you die; which you will need all of those hits to make it through the level. This is showcased in this level. While traversing though the castle, there will be these skeletons as your main enemy in this stage. When you kill one; their bones scatter everywhere, which hurts you if you touch one. It’s almost impossible to not get hit while defeating one of these guys. Later in the level; you get put on this cart going a thousand miles per hour; and you’re supposed to dodge buzzsaws. It’s short, but you can lose your 3 to 5 lives doing this part. The worst part is you get one continue; which puts you back at the beginning of the level, but if you game over; it’s back to Steamboat Wille for you! The game does give you ample heath pick-ups; if you choose to risk your life for them that is. Enough about this level! Boss time!Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 11.53.29 AM.png
Surprise! It’s the Mad Doctor himself! Like the skeletons; if you hit him he throws a bunch of objects at you, but this time they’re potions that explode! Great. You do get a bunch of health refills (see the stars in the picture above). This level looks great; the stuff in the foreground is a nice touch, the backgrounds are well detailed, and it just looks foreboding doesn’t it? The Mad Doctor theme is something akin to Spooky Scary Skeletons, so I automatically like it. Well that’s that. What could be more terrifying than spider-skeletons, normal skeletons, and bats? Well…

Moose Hunters (February 20th, 1937)

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The first time I played this I never heard of Moose Hunters.  I watched it. It was a good cartoon. After beating this level I never wanted to look at a moose again. This was one of the most infuriating levels for a first time player ever. I mean that. The level is just one long screen. That’s it. The obstacles include falling tree branches that come down to fast for you to react too, moose that charge at you which Pluto warns you to jump over by pointing at it (I didn’t see Pluto do this for a while, so it was basically random), and boulders that make it hard to jump over the charging moose. I almost put this game down and never picked it back up again thanks to Moose Hunters, but the sad thing is I love the look and music in this thing. Just look at that background! It looks like a Bob Ross painting! And MAN the SNES version of this theme is really good! Instead of the country banjo for the Playstation or like an Egypt theme in the Genesis; it uses a more “Frolicking in the forest” thing. Ugh, and to top it all off; the boss in this is really easy. You just eat apples to keep running from the moose and try not to trip on rocks. Just… let’s move along…Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 12.52.31 PM.png

Lonesome Ghosts (December 24, 1937)

 

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Strap in fellas; this is when the game gets hard. Ghosts! Lots and lots of ghosts being jerks, because they’re bored. They do all sorts of spooky things; like flood the house or raise the floor. They are everywhere! Some throw their hats, some hit you with planks of wood, some just kinda float there. The level looks great! The snowy outside, the spooky basement, the calamity of the haunted halls; it’s all great. The music is pretty alright too; with the Basement theme being all spooky, and The Haunted Halls theme called Phantasmal Jokers is cheerful; like those wacky ghosts. There is no boss in is stage. Huh. At the end at the stage; you see Ghost Hunter Mickey repeatedly running into a wall; which I will find infinitely funny. The day I get a gif of that; I can die happy.

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Mickey and the Beanstalk (September 27, 1947)

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Well right off the bat; if there’s one word to describe this level it’s vibrant. The enemies are large and detailed; the vast background ; it looks wonderful. The music is okay; I guess. The first part of the level is pretty mellow and nice; the second part of the level literally uses Moose Hunters again; the third part I’m neutral on; and the fourth part is okay I suppose. Once again no boss… I think I’m running out of steam… Luckily one last level to go! The Prince and The Pau-

 

 

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The Band Concert (February 23rd, 1935)

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Wait, what? What’s this doing here? This is a bonus level in the Genesis one; I don’t need to talk abo- Screw it, let’s just get this over with. This is the first Mickey cartoon to have color, and it’s one of my favorites. Too bad it’s only used as a bonus game. You find this by finding a secret in Mickey and the Beanstalk. You jump from box to box until you reach Band Concert Mickey at the top; where you get an extra continue. The look is quite nice with a nice 3D effect on the boxes. This 3D effect is used many times in the SNES and Genesis versions. The song is sort of based on Flight of the Bumblebee; which isn’t the one that they used in the original cartoon, but it fits nicely hear anyway. No more surprises! It’s time for…
The Prince and the Pauper (November 16th, 1990)

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Well this certainly is a jump ahead; isn’t it? I’ve never seen this one before, but I have heard of it. I scanned the Wikipedia article, and all I got out of it was that Horace Horsecollar teaches Prince Mickey trigonometry. The thought of Horace teaching trig makes me want to watch this flick. I’m rambling aren’t I?  My apologies. Anyway this level  is the last challenge! The final stretch is here, and the amount of crossbowmen and dagger throwers is disconcerting at first, but if you tough it out… you’ll make it past the first part of the level. The next part of the level contains even more enemies! Think that’s it? You climb up a tower while the fires of hell burn below you, THEN you climb the inside of the tower with enemies inside it while those same fires chase you faster. Mickey Mouse everybody.Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 8.46.44 PM.png

After one last hallway of despair; it’s time for the final boss. The one, the only, Pete! He ground pounds, throws swords, sends spike balls. When he ground pounds; he’ll send down a spiked plank of wood. You put it under him when he ground pounds five times, then it’s on to phase two! More spike balls and a new strategy. Hit the buttons in the corners to send wrecking balls down and your done! The level looks (once again) great; nothing more to add here. The PAP theme is an upbeat medieval romp and OH MAN THAT FINAL BOSS THEME. Glorious I tell you; Glorious.

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This is the second time I’ve beat this game, and I still enjoyed it. This is a beautiful, yet flawed game. We need to spread the word about this game. Maybe one day; we can get a remastered version of Mickey Mania, like DuckTales or Castle of Illusion, but until then..

That’s all Folks!

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Wait a minute…

Donkey Kong ’94 (He’s back again and about time too)

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Ah the remake; the essence of human creativity going down the drain. I jest of course, but really when you think about it; how many great remakes are there? There are the good ones; Twilight Princess HD, Wind Waker HD, the Mario Advance series to name a few, but when I think of the word “remake” I automatically think negatively. Enter Donkey Kong ’94, probably one of the best remakes every made. Now I know what you’re thinking;”This isn’t a remake at all!” and you would be right and wrong. This isn’t a remake, but this is what a remake SHOULD be. Read along and you’ll see what I mean.

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Gameplay of DK ’94 being played on the Super Gameboy.

Donkey Kong ’94 is a platformer developed and published by Nintendo in (obviously) 1994. It was released on the Gameboy and on 3DS Virtual Console. This game was the first game made with special features when played on the Super Gameboy. It’s not much; some colors, a rad border, and Pauline screams of terror sound a bit more like a human. Well, you know how the old story goes right? Donkey Kong kidnaps Pea- I mean Pauline and Mario needs to go save her. So you go up to the top and get her right? Wrong; my good friends. After the first world “Stage 0”; which is construction site from the original DonkeyKong; the game changes completely. Instead of getting to the top now; you need to find a key, then open the locked door (Really quick side note; it tells you this and many more moves via short cutscenes between worlds. This is a brilliant example of showing; not telling). You beat about four key grabbing stages, then you get to fight the simian himself; which is just a normal “Get to the top” level like in the original Donkey Kong. After that is four more levels of key grabbing, then a fight; rinse and repeat until you beat that world. Simple and well executed.

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The map of World 1: The Big-City.

So, what makes this game rad? Well for one, Mario has a boatload of moves in this one. Handstands, triple-jumping, picking up enemies like in Super Mario Bros 2, backflips, tightrope spinning; oh my! (Donkey Kong ’94 is responsible for a lot of firsts in the Mario series.) You use these moves to help you reach all sorts of places, like getting the key or collecting Paulines hat, purse, and parasol to get a bonus game. How are these moves incorporated into the classic gameplay of Donkey Kong? I would say absolutely flawlessly.  Even though I beat 25m in literally three seconds, the game remains challenging through out the 9 worlds and the 101 levels even with all of these moves. Airplane, Iceberg and Rocky Valley are all really tough, but like a lot of Mario games; you’ll get more lives than you’ll probably need. Using some of the enemies by picking them up, throwing them, standing on them to get a lift is quite fun, spinning on a tightrope and getting massive air off of it is immensely satisfying; what I’m trying to say is this game is fun. Really, really fun.

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 Gameplay of World 3: Ship. This game takes you everywhere!

The game looks great on a Gameboy; with big sprites to differentiate characters, a variety of worlds, so it doesn’t get too “same-y”, and on the Super Gameboy; it has bits of color! One of the best looking Gameboy games in my opinion. So what about the music? It’s okay I guess. I enjoy the Big City theme for some reason, but other than that I can’t really remember many other songs. It’s not a bad soundtrack, but it’s just not that rememberable.

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Aw; ain’t that nice?

 

Overall; Donkey Kong ’94 is one of the best Gameboy games out there and you should buy it. Immediately. Also, isn’t that The End screen nice? They finally made amends with each other. Too bad that went all out the window when the sequel came.

Yoshi’s Cookie (Now add two Yoshi Eggs; whites only…)

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I suppose I’ve had a kick for puzzle games recently.  Sure; they’re my one of my favorite genres of game, but it is hard to talk/write about them; especially the older ones. Most of the time they’re the same thing; match the colors of the falling blocks or something like that. Then Bejeweled came along and revolutionized the industry. Instead of matching colors of falling blocks; now we’re matching and rotating colors on a grid! The wonders of our favorite industry never ceases to amaze me. Well, let me introduce to you what I believe to be the grandfather of BejeweledYoshi’s CookieYoshi’s Cookie is a puzzle game developed by Bullet Proof Software (The folks who are behind the Gameboy port of Tetris) and released in 1992. This bad boy was ported to the NES, SNES, Gameboy, part of the Gamecube; Japan-only Nintendo Puzzle Collection, and on the Wii Virtual Console. Now that that’s settled; let’s see if this game is a culinary masterpiece or just half-baked.

 

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Gameplay of the SNES version

 

Yoshi’s Cookie is a bit different than most puzzle games. Mario and Yoshi are trying to get rid of all the 5 different types of cookie on the board by (what else); matching them and making them disappear. You control a cursor that is used to “rotate” an individual line. Think of it like a Rubik’s Cube in a way. When an entire row or column is fill with the same type of cookie; the line disappears and you get points. Of course this wouldn’t be a puzzle game without some sort of wacky thing to keep the game fresh. Occasionally, you will get a  special type of cookie called a “Yoshi’s Cookie”(Fun Fact: The Yoshi’s Cookie has appeared in a few other Mario games; mostly the RPGs, but still it’s neat nonetheless.). This acts as a wildcard of sorts; allowing it to be used to clear lines of any cookie. Now the strange thing about this game is that it still uses a falling block system like Tetris.  While you’re trying to clear the entire board and beat the level; more lines of cookies for you to match will fall down and from the right. If the screen fills up with cookies; it’s game over. This adds a sense of urgency to a rather lax game. There’s some other modes besides the single player:”Action” mode. “Puzzle” mode has a bunch of puzzles that have cookies that are set up in a certain type of way and you must clear them all in a set amount of moves. The puzzles were designed by Alexey Pajitnov of Tetris fame (Learn something new everyday, huh?). Finally there’s the battle mode. Man this mode is awesome! You’re trying to keep a fuse lit so you don’t lose and fill your red bar up to win by matching cookies . Simple right? Well, you can screw over your opponent if you match enough cookies (For example, shuffling their board up or covering up a 3×3 square of their board for a little while). This battle element has appeared in another one of my favorite puzzle games Pieces; which I’m probably doing soon. That’s enough about that; time for visuals and audio!

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The surprisingly intense battle mode to Yoshi’s Cookie.

The game is bright and colorful, but with a name like Yoshi’s Cookie; would you really except anything else? In between every ten levels in the main mode; you’re treated to a cute little cutscene of Mario chasing part of the Yoshi’s Cookie sign. Then; similarly to Columns; the background changes from scene to scene, which I’ve always liked. Nothing much else to say but; it looks like a Nintendo puzzle game. Like most puzzle games from this time; the music is listed by letters, so not much surprise there. Action Type A (which is has been dubbed the main theme of this series, I guess) is my preferred song of choice in this game; being simple, sweet and lax which fits the theme of the game as a whole. Action Type B is a weird one folks. With those of you with an acute ear for music; you might recognize this as the Necke piece; Csikós Post. Why they chose this of all things; I don’t know. However; it works better than you might think. It was my main theme for a while due to it being a fast paced, action packed of music. Action Type C is there, I suppose. Not that rememberable and a bit repetitive for my taste. Versus Type A and Versus Type C sound like 80’s infomercial, car dealership commercial, or exercise music; nothing wrong with that; just making an observation. Versus Type B is pretty good in my opinion; the bass is kickin’ that’s for sure. By the way; Action Type A for Smash 5 (5mash, if you will)! If we can get a remix of Tetris‘s Type B in a Smash game; why can’t we get a remix from Yoshi’s Cookie (But seriously though, who the hell cares about Type B*? That’s like picking Cough or Sneeze* while playing Dr. Mario or Dizzy while playing Dr. Luigi**!).

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The most modern, non VC version of Yoshi’s Cookie on the GameCube.

Yoshi’s Cookie is a treat in my opinion. The game is fun, fast paced, and a uncovered gem among puzzle games. It doesn’t look like we’ll get another one anytime soon, but that’s okay; it’ll still live on in our hearts.

*I actually love Cough, Sneeze, and Type B a lot. Rather under appreciated in my opinion.

** Dizzy on the other hand is the wrong choice, and if you pick that instead of Drowsy; you’re playing the game wrong.

Paperboy (Extra! Extra! Read all about it!)

Unknown.jpegThe arcade game is almost a lost art of sorts. Unless it’s from the indie scene; we never get games where the main point is to well; score points. Sure there might be an end of the game; like in Marble Madness and today’s topic; Paperboy, but the real goal is to make the high score list. Upon further inspection; I can barely think of any arcade games of this style with an actual goal besides “get points”. Then we have Paperboy, which is my favorite arcade game ever. Enough nonsense; let’s get on to the game!

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The title screen of the arcade version.

 

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The handlebar “controller”

 

 

 

 

 

Paperboy was developed and published by Atari Games in 1985.The game was then ported to like; everything. Computers, consoles, handhelds, phones, your dishwasher; this thing was a hit. The game is noted for its’ unusual controls. You see, instead of a joystick and buttons; Atari decided to stick handlebars on the cabinet in their place; it really catches the eye. Pushing on the handlebars makes you accelerate while pulling on them make you brake, and turning is, well; turning the handlebars. Simply, yet effective.I’ve played Paperboy in the arcade, and it takes some getting used to, but once you learn; you can never go back.

 

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Gameplay of Easy Street

So how does the life of a paperboy work? Well, you are the title paperboy delivering papers to houses on three different streets; Easy Street, Middle Road and Hard Way. You first choose your street (aka your difficulty level), then you are told your goal. You are shown all of the houses on the street; some are colorful which are the ones you need to deliver your papers to. On the other hand gray houses with nasty welcome mats are the ones you don’t deliver to; instead you throw papers at their windows to score you more points (Remember kids; vandalism’s okay when it’s toward people who you don’t like!). You’re trying to land your papers on the colorful people’s porch, but if you’re feeling ballsy; you can aim for the mailbox to get more points, however if you break their windows or just flat-out miss their house; those people will unsubscribe and their house will become a grey house the next day . If enough people unsubscribe; it’s game over. This makes it a fun risk-reward system of “Do you want to make it for the mailbox and risk missing, or play it safe and just aim for the porch”. Now it’s not as simple as throwing papers and pushing up and the handlebars; there’s a variety of obstacles trying to make our hero crash. These range from kids on big wheelers, break dancers, the Grim Reaper, stumbling drunk guys and all other sorts of wacky things. As you can see; this game has a great sense of humor and theme in general. You can throw your papers at some of the obstacles to make them stop moving, but take caution in not throwing your papers willy-nilly, since you can have only ten at one time. Fret not, you will find paper pickups that will completely refill your papers. Remember the “end” that I was talking about? Well, the real “end” of the game is when you complete the full week; Monday to Sunday (complete seven levels). This is no piece of cake however; even on Easy Street, the farthest I’ve made it was Friday. Sure everyday there’s bound to be less houses to deliver to (You’re bound to miss a few houses then and again after all.), but more obstacles appear; making less room for error. This is a very challenging game, but rewarding when you finally make it to the end of Sunday.

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You’ll be hearing a lot of what the paperboy has to say when you crash. One of my favorite features of the game.

Paperboy is a very bright, colorful game. Nothing much more to say ’bout the look, but the music is a joy to listen to. There’s not a name for the Main Theme of Paperboy, so I’ve been calling it the Main Theme. This track is severally underrated; unlike the NES version, which I find it to be the inferior version. It’s a theme which; doesn’t get annoying (even though it’s the only theme in the game besides the training course music) and is still a happy, fun theme to listen to. Overall, Paperboy rocks! It looks to be a challenging, fun game that really delivers (heh). I wish that we could of gotten a proper sequel to the game, one that isn’t Paperboy 2 which is just kind of mediocre and not worth your time or one that isn’t Paperboy 64 which is a top to bottom train wreck. Seriously; that game is utter trash. Never EVER buy it.

 

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.