Columns is a puzzle game developed by Sega.
Why It Rocks
- Surprisingly complex mechanics for a puzzle game from the 1990's. Gravity affects the stack after placing each piece, adding the possibility of chains and combos as gems still in play settle into the spots vacated by their freshly eliminated fellows.
- The value for puzzle players will come with each offering's variety and Columns does well in that regard. An Arcade mode emulates the game's first quarter-munching cabinet version, and is playable by one or two players.
- Difficulty and height settings allow you to customize challenges for yourself, and an extra mode called Flash Columns tasks you to dig down through a pre-set stack to eliminate a targeted, blinking piece (later puzzle titles, including Tetris sequels, would copy that approach).
- The graphics aren't very good, but they still work for what the game is. They're very simple, which is fine due to the general simplicity of the game. In fact, if the game had flashy graphics then it might distract certain gamers and make them do worse at the game.
- Columns isn't quite as classic as Tetris, but it offers a unique take on the falling block puzzle style.
- While Columns was a Tetris clone in a sense, it's mechanics are a lot more complex and it has enough unique about it to not be considered a ripoff.
- The game was so good that it spawned a lot of clones itself, the most popular being Bejeweled Blitz and Candy Crush.
Columns was met with very positive reception. Reviewing the game's appearance in Sega Arcade Classics for the Sega CD, Glenn Rubenstein gave it a B+, describing it as "like Tetris but a bit better." Mega placed the game at number 34 in their "Top Mega Drive Games of All Time".
This game isn't that hard to find and play becuase it was released on countless different platforms over the years. They include Arcade, Atari ST, Sega Master System, Sega Megadrive/Genesis, Sega CD, Sega Game Gear, FM Towns, PC Engine, NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, Sharp X68000, MSX2, Super Famicom, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy Color, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, iOS, and the Virtual Console.