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Columns

From Sega Retro

For the PC Engine, PC-9801 and PC-8801 versions, see Columns on NEC Retro.
n/a






Columns SystemC2Title.png
Columns
Publisher: Sega,
Sharp X68000
SystemSoft,
MSX
FM Towns/FM Towns Marty
Telenet Japan
Developer:
System(s): Sega System C, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Game Gear, Sega Master System, FM Towns, MSX, Sharp X68000, Super Famicom
ROM size:
Arcade
256kB,
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Master System
128kB,
Sega Game Gear
32kB,
Nintendo Super Famicom
512kB
Peripherals supported:
Sega Game Gear
Gear-to-Gear Cable
Genre: Puzzle































Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega Drive
JP
1990-06-30 ¥5,500 G-4035
Sega Mega Drive
JP (Game Tokoshan)
1991 ¥?  ?
Sega Mega Drive
US
1990-09Media:EGM US 016.pdf[1] $?  ?
Sega Mega Drive
US (Classic)
1993 $? 1701
Sega Mega Drive
EU
1991-02 £29.99 Media:Raze UK 11.pdf[2]  ?
Sega Mega Drive
CA
199x $?  ?
Sega Mega Drive
AU
199x $?  ?
Sega Mega Drive
BR
1991-11 Media:Supergame BR 04.pdf[3] R$?  ?
Sega Mega Drive
AS
199x  ?  ?


Sega Master System
US
$? 5120
Sega Master System
EU
£24.99 Media:SegaDoMeAFavour SMS UK PrintAd 1990-12.jpg[6] 5120
Sega Master System
AU
$? 5120
Sega Master System
BR
$?
Sega Master System
KR
₩? GB-1001
Sega Master System
KR (Samsung)
₩? GB-1002JG



Sega Game Gear
JP
¥2,900 G-3101
Sega Game Gear
JP (Meisaku)
¥? G-3104
Sega Game Gear
US
$? 2201
Sega Game Gear
EU
£19.99 Media:ACE UK 48.pdf[7]Media:GameGear UK PrintAdvert.jpg[8] 2201
Sega Game Gear
BR
$? 012070
Sega Game Gear
KR
₩? ?



FM Towns/FM Towns Marty
JP
¥? ?
MSX
JP
¥7,200 ?
Sharp X68000
JP
¥? ?



Wii Virtual Console
JP
600 points ?
Wii Virtual Console
US
800 points ?
Wii Virtual Console
EU
800 points ?



Steam
US
$2.99 ?
Steam
EU
£1.99 €? ?



Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
JP
¥286 (300) ?
Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
US
$3.99 ?
Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
EU
£3.59 €3.99 ?



Columns (コラムス) is a puzzle game created by Jay Geertsen in 1989. The rights were sold to Sega in 1990, who brought the game to the Sega System C arcade board, with its subsequent success seeing the game released on a wide variety of platforms. Columns is frequently seen as Sega's answer to Tetris. In Brazil it is known as Shapes and Columns. The Super Famicom version was released to the Nintendo Power service.

Gameplay

Columns is a falling-block puzzle game. Like Tetris, the aim of the game is to try and stay alive - "columns" fall from the top of the screen, landing on-top of each other, and should the "pile" reach the top of the screen, the game is over. Success is determined by strategic placing of columns, and as the game progresses, the rate at which the columns fall increases.

In Columns, each column is made up of three coloured jewels stacked on top of each other. If three or more jewels of the same colour are aligned horizontally, vertically or diagonally, the jewels will be destroyed, and any jewels placed above will fall downwards. Unlike Tetris, the reliance on gravity means gameplay is combo-driven - repeated combos will spawn a "magic jewel" (in most versions of the game), which when collided with a normal jewel will eliminate all jewels of that colour on-screen. Games are played on a 6x13 grid, and points are awarded by destroying jewels (players also receive a bonus for starting the game at higher difficulties). In the majority of versions, hints will be displayed for the player up until level 3.

There are six coloured jewels in total:

Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png

Many home versions of the game allow for the graphics to be changed, most notably the Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear variants, as well as home computer ports by SystemSoft.

Controls

There are only four buttons utilised in Columns. Left and Right move a falling column left or right across the screen, respectively, while Down speeds up the rate at which the column falls.

The remaining button is used to "rotate" the column as shown below:

Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png

Right

Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png

Right

Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png
Columns sprites.png

In most ports of this game there is no option to rotate the columns in the opposite direction, but that can be done in the Game Gear version. Columns can only be rotated while they are moving, however a certain amount of leeway (i.e. about a second) is given to columns which have just "landed".

Modes

Game modes differ depending on the version of Columns:

"Arcade"/Original

All versions of the game have an interpretation of the "arcade" (or "classic") columns described above - an theoretically endless game in which columns continue to fall until the screen is filled.

2-Player

"Standard" 2-player mode, found in the arcade version of the game is largely identical to the arcade mode above, except two players are supported. It is not a competitive mode, so players can join and leave at will. Some versions remove this mode for logistical reasons, for example, the Sega Game Gear port where the handheld nature of the console renders this mode largely pointless, and the PC Engine version, in which the console only has one control port as standard.

Versus

Offered in most non-arcade versions of the game, versus has two players compete against each other, the winner being the player who lasts the longest. Unlike other puzzle games of this nature (perhaps most notably, Puyo Puyo), there are no methods of "attacking" your opponent, so is very similar to the above.

Flash Columns

Flash Columns, featured in the Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear versions of the game, has the player must mine their way through a set number of lines to get to a flashing jewel at the bottom. The faster the player accomplishes this, the higher his or her rank will be.

Time Trial

Exclusive to the Mega Drive version, time trial involves wither the original "arcade" game or flash columns to be played as a three minute time-limited game.

Doubles

Also exclusive to the Mega Drive version, this can be seen as a cooperative two player mode, in which the original mode or flash columns can be played on the same screen.

Stone

Exclusive to the PC Engine version when playing on a PC Engine GT/TurboExpress (TODO)

Freeze

Exclusive to the PC Engine version when playing on a PC Engine GT/TurboExpress (TODO)

History

Development

Columns was originally conceived by Jay Geertsen while working at Hewlett-Packard in 1989. It was originally created for the HP-UX operating system (utilising the X Window System), however the relative obscurity of the platform, particularly amongst home consumers, saw ports to other systems. Nathan Meyers brought it to DOS for IBM PC customers (1989), Chris Christensen to the Macintosh (1990) and John Rotenstein for Windows 3.x (1990). It was also brought to the Atari ST in 1989.

In early 1990, Geertsen sold the rights to Sega, who has controlled the license ever since. Sega is not thought to own the code of the aforementioned versions, just the mechanics surrounding the game.

Legacy

Following its success in arcades, Columns was brought to the Sega Mega Drive, in the form of a very accurate arcade conversion. The Mega Drive Columns was the first puzzle game to hit the system in most territories - though Tetris had seen a Mega Drive release in Japan in 1988, legal issues forced it to be removed from shelves and the game has been rarely mentioned since. Columns is a relatively small game by Mega Drive standards, and so has been re-released multiple times across many compilations. It was also re-released several times between 1993 and 1996 in North America, presumably to try and clear old stock.

Columns was a launch title for the Sega Game Gear, which debuted in Japan in October 1990. It was also brought to the Sega Master System later in the year.

SystemSoft were given the rights to publish Japanese home computer versions of the game between 1991 and 1992, including the PC-8801, PC-9801 and Sharp X68000. MSX and FM Towns versions were handled by Telenet Japan, while a PC Engine port was brought to the system by Laser Soft. Perhaps most peculiarly, Media Factory were given the rights to produce a Super Famicom version, released in the very late year of 1999. It was distributed through the Japan-exclusive Nintendo Power rewritable cartridge service and is the only Sega property to see an official release on Nintendo's Super Famicom.

There have been multiple sequels to Columns, starting with 1990's Columns II: The Voyage Through Time and 1993's Columns III: Revenge of Columns. The System C version of the game was released as part of the Sega Saturn compilation, Columns Arcade Collection. The Mega Drive version has also been released on Steam and as part of the Wiis Virtual Console service. Multiple unlicensed versions of the game exist, as well as many clones.

Throughout its life, Columns has never achieved the same level of success as Tetris, however continues to see sequels to this day.

Production credits

Designers: TAKOSUKEZOU, Jay Geertsen
Composer: Tokuhiko Uwabo
Business: Steve Hanawa

Magazine articles

Main article: Columns/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Digital manuals

Physical scans

System C version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
87 №107, p101Media:CVG UK 107.pdf[9]Media:CVG UK 107.pdf
Arcade
87
Based on
1 review

System C, JP
Columns instructions.jpg

Mega-Tech version

Mega-Tech,
Columns MT cover.jpg
Cover
Columns MegaTech Cart Back.jpgColumns MegaTech Cart.jpg
Cart

Mega Drive version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
75 №2, p27Media:AcaoGames BR 002.pdf[10]Media:AcaoGames BR 002.pdf
90 №3, p46
88 №4, p28Media:CGtC UK 04.pdf[11]Media:CGtC UK 04.pdf
90
88 №25, p83
70 №9, p113Media:Joystick FR 009.pdf[12]Media:Joystick FR 009.pdf
79 №5, p91
81 №1, p33Media:MegaTech UK 01.pdf[13]Media:MegaTech UK 01.pdf
88 №1, p76/77Media:MegaTech UK 01.pdf[14]Media:MegaTech UK 01.pdf
74 №6, p42Media:PlayerOne FR 006.pdf[15]Media:PlayerOne FR 006.pdf
77 №9/90, p122Media:PowerPlay DE 030.pdf[16]Media:PowerPlay DE 030.pdf
82 №20, p12
80 №23, p53
90 №2, p19Media:SegaPro UK 02.pdf[17]Media:SegaPro UK 02.pdf
84 №18, p64
Sega Mega Drive
82
Based on
15 reviews

Mega Drive, US
Columns md us cover.jpg
Cover
Columns md us cart.jpg
Cart
Columns md us manual.pdf
Manual
Mega Drive, US (Sega Classic)
Columns MD US Box Classic VRC.jpg
Cover
Columns md us cart.jpg
Cart
Mega Drive, US
(Sega Classic) (newer)
Columns MD US Box SegaClassic.jpg
Cover
Columns md us cart.jpg
Cart
Mega Drive, EU
Columns md eu cover.jpg
Cover
Columns MD EU Cart.jpg
Cart
Columns MD EU Manual.pdf
Manual
Mega Drive, JP
Columns md jp cover.jpg
Cover
Columns MD JP CartTop.jpg
Columns MD JP Cart.jpg
Cart
Columns MD jp manual.pdf
Manual
Mega Drive, AU

Columns MD AU Cart Top.jpg
Columns MD AU Cart Back.jpgColumns MD AU Cart.jpg
Cart
Mega Drive, AU (alt)

Mega Drive, BR
Columns MD BR Box.jpg
Cover
Columns MD BR Cart.jpg
Cart
Mega Drive, CA
Columns MD CA Box.jpg
Cover
Mega Drive, Asia

Columns MD AS Cart.jpg
Cart

Master System version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
89 №3, p35
88 №4, p94Media:CGtC UK 04.pdf[18]Media:CGtC UK 04.pdf
84 №110, p133Media:CVG UK 110.pdf[19]Media:CVG UK 110.pdf
89 №1, p131Media:MeanMachinesEssentialSegaGuide Book UK.pdf[20]Media:MeanMachinesEssentialSegaGuide Book UK.pdf
90 №12, p116Media:Joystick FR 012.pdf[21]Media:Joystick FR 012.pdf
89 №2, p78/79Media:MeanMachines UK 02.pdf[22]Media:MeanMachines UK 02.pdf
85 №5, p50Media:PlayerOne FR 005.pdf[23]Media:PlayerOne FR 005.pdf
63 №12/90, p165Media:PowerPlay DE 033.pdf[24]Media:PowerPlay DE 033.pdf
90 №4, p32Media:Raze UK 04.pdf[25]Media:Raze UK 04.pdf
93 №13, p34/35Media:SegaPower UK 13.pdf[26]Media:SegaPower UK 13.pdf
80 №23, p56
92 №2, p19Media:SegaPro UK 02.pdf[17]Media:SegaPro UK 02.pdf
Sega Master System
86
Based on
12 reviews

Master System, US
Columns sms us cover.jpg
Cover
Columns sms us cart.jpg
Cart
Columns sms us manual.pdf
Manual
Master System, EU
Columns sms eu cover.jpg
Cover
Master System, AU
Columns SMS AU cover.jpg
Cover
Columns SMS AU Cart Top.jpg
Columns SMS AU Cart Back.jpgColumns SMS AU Cart.jpg
Cart
Master System, BR
Columns SMS BR backcover.jpgNospine.pngColumns SMS BR cover.jpg
Cover
ShapesandColumns SMS BR Cart.jpg
Cart
Columns SMS BR Manual.pdf
Manual
Master System, KR (Korea Oacs)
Columns SMS KR Box.jpg
Cover
Columns SMS KR OACS cart.jpg
Cart
Master System, KR (Samsung)
Columns SMS KR Box Back Samsung.jpgColumns SMS KR Box Spine Samsung.jpgColumns SMS KR Alt cover.jpg
Cover
Columns SMS KR carttop Samsung.jpg
Columns SMS KR Cart Samsung.jpg
Cart

Game Gear version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
68 №48, p74Media:ACE UK 48.pdf[7]Media:ACE UK 48.pdf
80 №23, p61
91 №24, p38
80 №2, p19Media:SegaPro UK 02.pdf[17]Media:SegaPro UK 02.pdf
93 №19, p91
Sega Game Gear
82
Based on
5 reviews

Game Gear, US
Columns GG US backcover.jpgNospine.pngColumns gg us cover.jpg
Cover
Columns gg us cart.jpg
Cart
Columns gg us manual.pdf
Manual
Game Gear, EU
Columns GG EU Box Back.jpgNospine.pngColumns gg eu cover.jpg
Cover
Columns gg eu cart.jpg
Cart
Game Gear, JP
Columns GG JP Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngColumns gg jp cover.jpg
Cover
Columns gg jp cart.jpg
Cart
Columns GG JP Manual.pdf
Manual
Game Gear, JP
(Meisaku Collection)
Columns GG JP Box Back Meisaku.jpgNospine-small.pngColumns GG JP Box Front Meisaku.jpg
Cover
Columns GG JP Box Cart Back Meisaku.jpgColumns GG JP Box Cart Meisaku.jpg
Cart
Game Gear, BR
Columns GG BR Box.jpg
Cover
Columns GG BR cart.jpg
Cart
Columns gg br manual.pdf
Manual
Game Gear, KR

Columns GG KR Cart.jpg
Cart

FM Towns version

FM Towns, JP

MSX version

MSX, JP
Columns MSX JP Box Back.jpgColumns MSX JP Box Front.jpg
Cover

Sharp X68000 version

Sharp X68000, JP
Columns X68000 JP Box Front.jpg
Cover

External links

References

Necretro-logo.svg
NEC Retro has more information related to Columns.
  1. File:EGM US 016.pdf, page 20
  2. File:Raze UK 11.pdf, page 76
  3. File:Supergame BR 04.pdf, page 38
  4. File:EGM US 014.pdf, page 16
  5. File:ACE UK 40.pdf, page 165
  6. File:SegaDoMeAFavour SMS UK PrintAd 1990-12.jpg
  7. 7.0 7.1 File:ACE UK 48.pdf, page 74
  8. File:GameGear UK PrintAdvert.jpg
  9. File:CVG UK 107.pdf, page 101
  10. File:AcaoGames BR 002.pdf, page 27
  11. File:CGtC UK 04.pdf, page 28
  12. File:Joystick FR 009.pdf, page 113
  13. File:MegaTech UK 01.pdf, page 33
  14. File:MegaTech UK 01.pdf, page 76
  15. File:PlayerOne FR 006.pdf, page 42
  16. File:PowerPlay DE 030.pdf, page 122
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 File:SegaPro UK 02.pdf, page 21
  18. File:CGtC UK 04.pdf, page 94
  19. File:CVG UK 110.pdf, page 133
  20. File:MeanMachinesEssentialSegaGuide Book UK.pdf, page 131
  21. File:Joystick FR 012.pdf, page 116
  22. File:MeanMachines UK 02.pdf, page 78
  23. File:PlayerOne FR 005.pdf, page 50
  24. File:PowerPlay DE 033.pdf, page 165
  25. File:Raze UK 04.pdf, page 32
  26. File:SegaPower UK 13.pdf, page 34
Games in the Columns Series
Columns (1990) | Columns II: The Voyage Through Time (1990) | Columns III: Revenge of Columns (1993) | Stack Columns (1994) | Super Columns (1995) | Columns '97 (1996) | Hanagumi Taisen Columns (1997) | Columns Arcade Collection (1997) | Columns GB: Tezuka Osamu Characters (1999) | Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 (2000) | Columns Crown (2001) | Columns Deluxe (2008) | Columns Jewel (200x)
Columns Related Media
Albums Columns・Columns II (1991)