ColumnsNOTE: This review is based off of what I played on Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, so if there are any differences between it and the original Genesis version and you're going "wait what that ain't true, well, now you know to watch for those instances.
Tetris could be proud. Columns is one of those puzzle games that relies on reflexes and good vision in order to get somewhere – eventually, get the really high score and kick some ass on top of that. That, or get a mate over and kick his ass at stacking colored jewels in the correct sequences or whatever. Either way, if you like Tetris, you'll find a good amount of enjoyment out of this game, too.
You stack one up and pass it along. No story in sight, but since when do puzzle games like this need them? We're too busy stacking jewels on top of other jewels! Speaking of which, the objective of the game is to stack jewels in ways that'll make them disappear, and keep it up until you fill the screen. How do these jewels disappear? Well, what you have to do is stack three or more of the same color jewels together either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. It's not as easy as you'd think, because each jewel drops in groups of three, meaning you'll need to do some quick planning, both ahead, and there and then in order to keep yourself afloat.
There are a few modes – arcade, original game, and flash columns. Arcade and original game are about the same thing, which is to survive or kick your mate's ass, while flash columns has you try to eliminate the flashing jewel within a short period of time. In saying that, original game and flash columns have an option to let you play either alone, against one another, or together in a doubles match, while arcade doesn't have the doubles option.
Columns is kind of fun to play if you let it sink in... yeah, this game isn't something you'll fall in love with straight away, unlike Tetris. Like I said, you have to stack colors together, but it'll take some time to actually get the hang of it, as getting the right combos is a lot harder than you think. Oh sure, it's nice to get the obvious ones out of the way, but later along the way when the stacks fall faster, just going for obvious ones will lead to your downfall. There's a lot of emphasis on thinking ahead, meaning you'll need to make a bunch of obvious combos, and make sure they fall onto one another in a way that'll have them all disappear.
What could've made things better is the ability to flip horizontally, because being limited to flipping vertically is a bitch and a half when trying to get the right colors together and you know that you can't do it vertically, but horizontally, those pieces will fit a lot better. I'll understand being limited when there's only a two section gap, but come on, this is six sections big – shouldn't really be any excuse, and that “oh it'll be more challenging” bullshit won't fly, either, because it'll still be challenging if you could flip horizontally. But whatever, you know, it won't make this game a standout hit; it'll just make it a bit less frustrating for those who actually play it!
Maybe I'm missing the point, but... Whenever I look at the game, I see some nice looking backgrounds with a Roman-esque theme to them, and the jewels look nice and shiny. The board is set out fairly well, and the font is easy to read... if you can't tell, these graphcis aren't really mind blowing or much to discuss – they're just nice looking, that's all.
As for the soundtrack, it doesn't sound too bad. The three songs you have to choose from are soothing enough to get you into the style of play. Unfortunately (though it might just be me), as you'll be playing for a while, the songs will start to numb your mind, making your reflexes a little less than stellar, and when jewels start falling down faster, you'll probably end up with a full screen and game over will ensue. Like the graphics though, the soundtrack isn't anything special, and is certainly not quite as famous – nor as good – as the Tetris soundtrack.
Columns of gems, or shit? Columns is merely an okay game, despite what the intro would've indicated. There is nothing ultimately mindblowing about this game, and even as a time killer, it's not quite as good as similar games. Just play Tetris instead.
Jewels: Gameplay: 6/10 There isn't a huge variety in modes, and it takes a while to actually get into it. After that initial bump, it's not too bad, actually. Controls: 6/10 Seriously, how can you screw this one up? Well, by not giving us the option to rotate horizontally, that's how! Graphics: 8/10 Looks aesthetically pleasing. Nothing mind blowing or anything. Sound: 5/10 The music isn't too bad, though it becomes mind numbing after a while.