Columns (video game)

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Cover art
Developer(s) Sega
Publisher(s) Sega
Composer(s) Tokuhiko Uwabo
Platform(s) Arcade, PC Engine, Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Mega-CD, Game Gear, Super Famicom, Game Boy Color, Virtual Console, NEC PC-9801, MSX2, iOS, Cloud (OnLive)
Release date(s) Arcade
Mega Drive
  • NA June 29, 1990
  • JP June 30, 1990
Game Gear
  • JP October 6, 1990
  • EU April 26, 1991
  • NA April 26, 1991
  • JP December, 1990
PC Engine
  • JP March 29, 1991
Genre(s) Puzzle
Mode(s) Up to 2 players, simultaneously
Cabinet Upright
Display Raster, standard resolution (320X224) 32 Colors

Columns (コラムス Koramusu?) is a match-three puzzle video game, first created in 1989 by Jay Geertsen. Early versions of the game were made and ported among early computer platforms, and then the Atari ST,[1] until 1990, when Jay Geertsen sold the rights to Sega, where it was ported to several Sega consoles.


Columns was one of the many Tetris-like puzzles that appeared after that game's great success in the late 1980s.[2] It takes place inside a tall, rectangular playing area. Columns of three different symbols (such as differently-colored jewels) appear, one at a time, at the top of the well and fall to the bottom, landing either on the floor or on top of previously-fallen "Columns"

While a column is falling, the player can move it left and right, and can also cycle the positions of the symbols within it.

If, after a column has fallen, there are three or more of the same symbols connected in a straight line horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, those symbols disappear. The pile of columns then settles under gravity. If this causes three or more other symbols to become aligned, they also disappear and the pile settles again. This process repeats as many times as necessary. It is not uncommon for this to happen three or four times in a row - it often happens by accident when the well is becoming crowded. If the well fills beyond the top of the screen, the game ends.

Occasionally, a special column called the Magic Jewel Column appears. The Magic Jewel flashes with different colors and when it lands, it destroys all the jewels with the same color as the one underneath it.

The columns fall at a faster rate as the player progresses. The goal of the game is to play for as long as possible before the well fills up with Jewels.

Some ports of the game offer alternate game modes as well. "Flash columns" involves mining their way through a set number of lines to get to a flashing jewel at the bottom. "Doubles" allows two players work together in the same well. "Time trial" involves racking up as many points as possible within the time limit.

Game Gear[edit]

Columns was the first pack-in game for the Sega Game Gear. This version was slightly different from the Mega Drive version. The Game Gear version had different music, sounding more like a flute or woodwind. While the columns themselves were updated for the Mega Drive version, the overall decoration was less like a cartoon in the Game Gear version and instead more artistically designed. Lastly, the Game Gear version had a feature that allowed the player to change the jewels to fruit, squares, dice, or card shapes (clubs, diamonds, spades).

Ports and sequels[edit]

Many sequels and spinoffs were produced: Columns II: The Voyage Through Time (arcade), Columns III: Revenge of Columns (Mega Drive), Columns '97 (Arcade and Saturn), Sakura Taisen Hanagumi Taisen Columns 1 and 2 (Saturn and Dreamcast), and many compilations and re-releases (Columns Arcade Collection on the Saturn, Sega Ages vol 07: Columns on the PS2) as well. Because Columns was made by Sega, versions were made available on the Sega Master System, Mega Drive, Mega-CD, Game Gear, Saturn, and Dreamcast. Additional versions of the game have also been made available on PC Engine, Game Boy Advance, and PlayStation 2. The Game Boy Color version was specifically called Columns GB: Osamu Tezuka Characters. It featured many of his characters such as Kimba and Astroboy and also featured slightly less known characters such as Unico.

Columns has been cloned many times on different computers. There was an Amiga clone, released by Avesoft, called Coloris. There is also an online Java game heavily based on it called Yahoo! towers, which allows up to eight players to compete against each other. An unofficial ZX Spectrum version was made by Russian coders Piter in 1991[3] The Pelican VG Pocket offers a clone called "Jewel Master" that adds the ability to rotate columns horizontally like Super Columns.

On November 7, 2006, Columns was released as part of the game Sega Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 2 and later on another release of Sega Genesis Collection for the PlayStation Portable. On December 4, 2006 Columns was released on Nintendo's Virtual Console for 800 Wii Points. It is also included on Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.[4] Most recently the game was ported to iOS by Sega. It comes in a package deal from the App Store along with a version of Puyo Pop for $5.

In 1999, developers Marigul programmed a Super Famicom version of Columns with a Versus Mode that features different music, characters and game play similar to the original and was released by Media Factory.[5]


Tokuhiko Uwabo composed the music for Columns. The song Clotho is named after the Greek Moira of the same name, related to the Greek flavor of some of the game's art. The other main songs are titled Atropos and Lathesis, other Moirai.


Review scores
Publication Score
MegaTech 88%[6]

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."[7]

Mega placed the game at number 34 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Columns for Atari ST
  2. ^ "The Maturation of Computer Entertainment: Warming The Global Village". Computer Gaming World. 1990-07-08. p. 11. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "WOS entry for 'Columns'". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2006-09-06. 
  4. ^ Parish, Jeremy (2006-10-31). "Wii Virtual Console Lineup Unveiled". Retrieved 2006-11-01. 
  5. ^ "Columns for SNES". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  6. ^ MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, page 78, May 1992
  7. ^ Rubenstein, Glenn (January 1993). "At the Controls". Wizard (Wizard Entertainment) (17): 21–24. 
  8. ^ Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992

External links[edit]