Columns (video game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Designer(s)Jay Geertsen[9]
Composer(s)Tokuhiko Uwabo
March 1990
  • Arcade
    Mega Drive/Genesis
    Game Gear
    • JP: October 6, 1990
    • EU: April 26, 1991
    • NA: April 26, 1991
    • JP: December 25, 1990
    PC Engine
    • JP: March 29, 1991
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
Arcade systemSega System C

Columns (Japanese: コラムス, Hepburn: Koramusu) is a match-three puzzle video game released by Sega in 1990. Designed by Jay Geertsen, it was released by Sega for arcades and then ported to several Sega consoles. The game was subsequently ported to home computer platforms, including the Atari ST.


Columns was one of the many tile-matching puzzle games to appear after the great success of Tetris in the late 1980s.[10] The area of play is enclosed within 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. After a column lands, if three or more of the same symbols are connected in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line, those symbols disappear. The pile of columns then settles under gravity. If this resettlement causes three or more other symbols to align, they too disappear and the cycle repeats. Occasionally, a special column with a multicolor Magic Jewel appears. 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, which ends the game. Players can score up to 99,999,999 points.[11]

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.[citation needed]


Sega ported the arcade game to the Mega Drive/Genesis console. This version of the game was nearly identical to the original arcade game.[9]

Columns was the first pack-in game for the Game Gear. This version was slightly different from the Mega Drive/Genesis version and its soundtrack was transposed and rearranged due to the limitations of the handheld's sound chip. While the columns themselves were updated for the Mega Drive/Genesis 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 let the player change the jewels to fruit, squares, dice, or playing card suits (clubs, diamonds, spades, and hearts).

In 1990, Compile and Telenet Japan developed and published an MSX2 version.

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 the above compilation for PlayStation Portable. On December 4, 2006 the title 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.[12] It was included as one of the games in the Sega Genesis Mini. It was also included as one of the games in the 2018 releases of Sega Genesis Classics for Windows, Linux, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Most recently the game was ported to iOS by Sega,[citation needed] but the port was subsequently withdrawn by Sega.[13][circular reference][14] On December 15, 2022, the game was re-released on the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack.


Tokuhiko Uwabo composed the music for Columns. The songs "Clotho", "Atropos"[15] and "Lathesis" (sic[16]) are named after the Moirai from Greek mythology, related to the Greek flavor of some of the game's art.


In Japan, Game Machine listed Columns on their April 15, 1990 issue as being the eighth most-successful table arcade unit of the month.[27] It went on to be Japan's fourth highest-grossing arcade game of 1990 (below Capcom's Final Fight and Sega's Tetris and Super Monaco GP)[28] and third highest-grossing arcade conversion kit of 1991 (below Capcom's Street Fighter II and Sega's Tetris).[29]

Reviewing the game's appearance in Sega Arcade Classics for the Sega CD, Glenn Rubenstein gave it a B+ rating in Wizard magazine, describing it as "like Tetris but a bit better."[24] Mega placed the game at number 34 in their "Top Mega Drive Games of All Time".[30] In 2017, Gamesradar ranked the game 40th on its "Best Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games of all time."[31]


Many sequels and spin-offs were produced: Columns II: The Voyage Through Time, Columns III: Revenge of Columns, Columns '97, Sakura Taisen: Hanagumi Taisen Columns 1 & 2, and many compilations and re-releases (Columns Arcade Collection, Sega Ages Vol. 07: Columns) as well. Because Columns was made by Sega, versions were made available on the Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega 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. A Super Famicom version was released in Japan via the Nintendo Power service.[32] The Game Boy Color version was specifically called Columns GB: Osamu Tezuka Characters, where it featured many of his characters such as Kimba and Astroboy, but also featured slightly less known characters such as Unico.[citation needed]

Columns has also been cloned many times across different platforms:

Title Platform Release date Developer Publisher Notes
Coloris Amiga 1990 Signum Victoriae Avesoft
Magic Jewelry NES Hwang Shinwei RCM Group The title is the best known of all its clones, and was released on unlicensed Famicom multicarts.
Columns ZX Spectrum 1991 Piter Ltd. Piter Ltd.
Magic Jewelry II NES Hwang Shinwei RCM Group With the addition of new features, it is the sequel to Magic Jewelry.
Jewelbox Macintosh 1992 Rodney and Brenda Jacks Varcon Systems
Xixit MS-DOS 1995 John Hood, Tomasz Pytel; music by Andrew Sega Optik Software
Yahoo! Towers Java 1999/2000 Yahoo! Games Yahoo! Games This clone allows up to eight players to compete against each other.
BREF Columns IOS, Android 2013 Mumblecore Mumblecore
Magic Jewelry 3 2015 Guolin Ou Guolin Ou A magic column appears when a level is cleared, with which a player can clear all the jewels in same color.
Molums 2018 Antonelli Francisco Wisefox


  1. ^ "Machine Catalog: Video Games". RePlay. Vol. 16, no. 1. October 1990. pp. 78–85.
  2. ^ Akagi, Masumi (October 13, 2006). アーケードTVゲームリスト国内•海外編(1971–2005) [Arcade TV Game List: Domestic • Overseas Edition (1971–2005)] (in Japanese). Japan: Amusement News Agency. pp. 130–1. ISBN 978-4990251215.
  3. ^ "Overseas Readers Column: "SF II", "Exhaust Note" Top Videos '92" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 441. Amusement Press, Inc. 1–15 January 1993. p. 36.
  4. ^ "Columns". Media Arts Database. Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Coin Ops". Sinclair User. No. 103 (September 1990). United Kingdom: EMAP. 18 August 1990. pp. 56–7.
  6. ^ "EGM_US_016.pdf" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Columns". Sega Retro. 2 May 2022.
  8. ^ "Columns for Sharp X68000 (1991)".
  9. ^ a b Barnes, Adam (11 July 2019). "The Making Of: Columns". Retro Gamer. Retrieved 5 July 2021 – via PressReader.
  10. ^ "The Maturation of Computer Entertainment: Warming The Global Village". Computer Gaming World. 1990-07-08. p. 11. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  11. ^ "Highest points total on Columns (Mega Drive version)". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  12. ^ Parish, Jeremy (2006-10-31). "Wii Virtual Console Lineup Unveiled". Retrieved 2006-11-01.
  13. ^ "Sega Genesis Classics".
  14. ^ "Sega pulls more than a dozen games from iTunes App Store, Google Play". Polygon. 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  15. ^ "Search: columns atropos". YouTube.
  16. ^ "Search: columns lathesis". YouTube.
  17. ^ "Columns review score". Archived from the original on 2016-09-01.
  18. ^ Rignall, Julian (16 September 1990). "Arcade Action". Computer and Video Games. No. 107 (October 1990). pp. 98–100.
  19. ^ "Guide: Sega". Computer and Video Games (Complete Guide to Consoles: Volume IV): 89–110. November 1990.
  20. ^ Lang, Chip (December 1990). "Sega ProView: Columns" (PDF). GamePro. p. 136.
  21. ^ "Software A-Z: Master System". Console XS. No. 1 (June/July 1992). United Kingdom: Paragon Publishing. 23 April 1992. pp. 137–47.
  22. ^ MegaTech rating, MegaTech, EMAP, issue 5, page 78, May 1992
  23. ^ "Readers top 10 – Master System". Sega Power. No. 18. May 1991. p. 7.
  24. ^ a b Rubenstein, Glenn (January 1993). "At the Controls". Wizard. Wizard Entertainment (17): 21–24.
  25. ^ "Columns (Sega Genesis) Review". Archived from the original on 14 November 2014.
  26. ^ "A-Z Software". Console XS. No. 1. June 1992. p. 128. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  27. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 378. Amusement Press, Inc. 15 April 1990. p. 25.
  28. ^ "第4回ゲーメスト大賞 〜 インカム部門ベスト10" [4th Gamest Awards – Income Category: Best 10]. Gamest (in Japanese). Vol. 54 (February 1991). December 27, 1990. pp. 6–24 (24). alternate url
  29. ^ ""Final Fight II" and "Final Lap 2" Top Videos: Video Games of The Year '91" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 419. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 February 1992. p. 26.
  30. ^ Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992
  31. ^ GamesRadar Staff (2017-06-21). "Best Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games of all time". gamesradar. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  32. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2004-04-06. Retrieved 2004-04-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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