Genre: Puzzle Developer: Sega of Japan Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1-2 Released: 1990
I can finally say that I’ve found a game that I can say is an addictive puzzler for the Sega Master System. Most puzzle games on the console are pretty bad, and it’s not easy going through so many bad games trying to find something that’s worth playing. Columns isn’t perfect but gets enough right to be a must have in the library; it has decent and bright box art, a few more options than the Genesis port and stands out as one of the best overall multi-player games on the console. It was well worth the $15 I spent on it.
For those of you who are in the dark, Columns plays like Dr. Mario or Tetris 2, where you have a three-colored piece that falls down and has to be lined up with different colors, when three or more of the same color are lined up then those colors disappear and the above pieces fall in their place, many times creating combos when more colors line up. There are several difficulty levels which add more colors to the mix, five different styles of pieces, and also several different speed settings. There are also three modes of game play: endless mode, Flash Columns – where you have to eliminate a single flashing piece at the bottom of the well to advance to the next round, and then there’s a two-player version of both modes. There aren’t a lot of options but what’s available here is solid.
My biggest complaint with the this version of Columns is with the graphics. Everything is present, including some nice backgrounds, but unfortunately, Sega made everything just too small. There are five styles of pieces, but only like two or three of the them don’t hurt my eyes when I play, and the others are too small, make me dizzy and distract me from the gameplay. The well is also too narrow, and I know the Master System was more than capable of handling the larger sprites of the Genesis version. Audibly, the game is what you’d expect from Columns on the Sega Master System. What’s there sounds fine, but unlike every other version, you can’t select your music so the few tracks present made me want to turn the radio on the last time I played this with my wife.
Columns has its flaws and isn’t perfect in any stretch of the imagination but it succeeds in enough areas to be a solid title worthy of its shelf space though the Game Gear version is leagues better. It’s not a game that’s terribly fun in single-player mode either, but its multi-player side shines, and my wife and I consider it one of our favorite games on the console. Pick up a copy and enjoy.