Posted by Damien McFerran
Columns is loosely derived from Tetris, as it involves arranging falling blocks in such a way as to clear them.
Much fuss was made over Columns back when it was first released. Nintendo had just launched its version of Tetris alongside the portable Game Boy, and puzzle games had therefore become a vital element in a console creator's arsenal. Sega quickly pushed Columns onto the marketplace in the hope that it would match Tetris in terms of appeal. It didn't quite do that, but it has nevertheless gone on to become something of a favourite with puzzle fans; over the years it has influenced games such as Puyo Puyo and Super Puzzle Fighter.
Like all the best puzzle titles, the core gameplay is as basic as they come - you line up three jewels of the same colour, they disappear and new jewels fall in stacks of three that you can reorder before they hit the bottom.
Now, has the model aged? Sadly, we have to report that it has. The presentation, straight from the early days of the Megadrive, is disappointingly simple and somewhat uninspired. The game also makes little effort to provide different challenges - but then compared to other games of this type available back in the early '90s, this was par for the course.
The quality of the music is something that divides fans - personally, I quite like it but many people I know think it's dull, repetitive and actually quite annoying. The same could be said for the sound effects, which are pretty flat on the whole.
Regardless of all this, Columns still manages to entertain to some degree. In fact, it often verges on the hypnotic, and if you really let yourself get sucked in it can prove to be quite addictive. Sadly, you can't escape the fact that the genre has evolved over the years and these days games have to offer a little more to keep people interested.