Reviewed by Inkhands
Columns is a nice puzzle game. It is simply a variation on
the falling blocks theme of Tetris, but it's still an
interesting reworking of the Tetris formula. To me, it
wasn't quite as addictive as Tetris. Also, I did play Tetris
before this game, so it doesn't seem as original. It just
seems more like the clone that it is. This one follows the
Tetris setup well and then adds a few differences, that make
it interesting, but not interesting enough.
In this version of the game you have two modes of play.
First off you can play a one player game or a two player
versus mode. If you choose one player mode you will then
select if you want to play on normal mode or a flash mode.
Normal mode gives you an empty box to start with. Flash mode
starts with a certain amount of the box already filled in.
You select the difficulty between easy, normal, and hard.
You can also select the level of play between 2 and 9. This
variates the height the shapes are in the box and the speed
in which they fall. You also get three options on what type
of music to listen to as you play. One option allows you to
choose the type of blocks. The choices are the jewels,
squares, dice, fruit, and the shapes that appear on a deck
of cards, such as spades and hearts. The squares look like
legos. The fruit varies from apples and bananas. The jewels
are red and purples circles. There are also purple and
In actually playing the game, you are given a box container
and it sits in the middle of the screen. Blocks of three
shapes are falling from the top. You have to arrange them to
match by color. They never bend or flip. They stay the same
shape no matter how many buttons you hit. However, you can
arrange the order in which you want them to sit. If you have
a blue on top, red in the middle, and yellow on the bottom
set of shapes, you can change them by hitting the button.
This will put blue on the bottom, yellow in the middle, and
red on top.
The colors match up vertically. You can sit two of the same
color on another of the same color and they will flash and
disappear. They also match up horizontally. Line up three
blocks of the same color in a row and they will also
disappear. Another way they will clear is if you line them
up diagonally. It takes at least three of the same color to
clear, but it can be more than that if they do match.
Another good thing is this game allows chain reactions. If
you match a row vertically, then other ones will drop, and
they will also clear if you have three more of the same
color in line with each other vertically, horizontally, or
diagonally. The chain reaction will continue for as long as
possible. I had five rows to clear in one chain reaction.
Occasionally, a set of flashing blocks will fall. The first
diamond it hits will be the key color. All the other blocks
of that color will diappear from the container, whether they
touched the flashing one or not. So if you hit it against a
red block, all the red ones will disappear.
The control is fine in this game. All you do is move them
left or right to sit them where you want. You also hit one
of the buttons to change the order of the blocks. The
challenge in this game depends on the setting, but is still
rather low in either mode. The game is very slow paced. Too
slow paced in my opinion. It doesn't have the intensity that
Tetris has. The blocks never really vary in speed from level
to level. Early on they fall very slow, but then suddenly
you hit level 9 or so and they begin falling so fast that's
it's almost impossible to arrange them. You do get a preview
of the next set of blocks that will fall, but you might not
have time to look. This game moves from easy to impossible
with nothing in between.
You have a title song and then you have a choice of three
songs to listen to while playing. One of the songs uses
something that sounds like a harp. The other sounds dreamy
like one of the songs in Tetris. The other is a slight
variation on the Russian sounding song from Tetris. If you
have played Tetris and heard either of the songs in that
game, then just imagine a variation on them. If you haven't
played Tetris, then imagine something that sounds Russian,
something dreamy, and something like a lullaby. The music
speeds up as the blocks pile up, just as it does in Tetris.
No sound effects other than the blocks landing and the click
click sounds they make as you flip through them changing
their order. Average sound in this game.
Graphically, this game is rather weak. I suppose it is
because of the limitations of the system. The container is
very tall and narrow. To the right of the container is a set
of boxes. One box is a preview as to the next set of blocks
that is falling. You also have a box telling you the level
you are on. The next box shows your total score. Finally,
you have a box that informs you of how many blocks you have
cleared. The background looks like some Asian city. As you
progress in the levels, the background begins to change as
though day is changing into night. It becomes darker and
then you see the Moon in the sky.
The actual blocks aren't really colorful. They are simple
looking as well. None of them are very detailed. They are a
little too small though and don't stand out as well as they
should. They show up well enough to play, but it would have
been much better if they were larger. There is a little bit
of a delay once your blocks land. It is as though the game
is trying to detect if you matched up any blocks or not. The
delay is very obvious, but only hinders the game a little.
However, I would have prefered no delay at all. This game
really doesn't have anything above average in terms of
Replay value depends on how addicted you get to the game.
There are really only two modes of play, unless you play
versus mode. The first mode just plays as an endless stream
of blocks falling until the container fills up. The flash
mode, basically, lets you adjust the height of the blocks
that have already fallen. You might want to play it again
for that mode just to see how far you can advance. You also
might want to play the other one to see how many total
blocks you can clear or try to get a higher score. This is
basically a point based puzzle game that recquires a little
thought and strategy, while still demanding you use quick
reflexes to arrange the blocks. Much in the same way the
original Tetris did.
The game moves too slow for too long and the pace never
really picks up. Once it does, it picks up to the impossible
level. If you are looking for a good puzzle game to take on
a trip, then quite obviously you would be better off with
the GameBoy version of Tetris. Columns is good, but more of
an inferior clone than an actual game. It appears on a lot
of systems, but this version of the game is certainly not
the best one available. It's a little hard not to compare
this game to Tetris, because that game set the standard that
most puzzle games follow now. Columns follows it well, while
adding some nice variations, but still comes out to be not
as good as the definitive puzzle game.
Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 5/10
Control - 7/10
Challenge - 6/10
Appeal - 7/10
Game Play - 6/10
Replay Value - 5/10
Overall - 6/10