From Sega Retro
|System(s): Sega System C, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Game Gear, Sega Master System, FM Towns, MSX, PC-8801, PC-9801 UV, PC Engine, X68000, Toshiba J3100 Super Famicom, Steam, iOS, Wii & Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console|
|Sound driver: SMPS Z80|
|Peripherals supported: Gear-to-Gear Cable|
|Genre: Puzzle, Family|
|Number of players: 1-2|
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, though its tile-matching gameplay has more in common with SameGame (1985). In Brazil, it is known as Shapes and Columns because Avon Products already registered a product of the same name in that country. The Super Famicom version was released only for the Nintendo Power service.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 History
- 3 Versions
- 4 Production credits
- 5 Digital manuals
- 6 Magazine articles
- 7 Promotional material
- 8 Physical scans
- 9 Technical information
- 10 External links
- 11 References
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:
The remaining button is used to "rotate" the column as shown below:
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".
Game modes differ depending on the version of Columns:
All versions of the game have an interpretation of the "Arcade" (or "Classic") columns described above - a theoretically endless game in which columns continue to fall until the screen is filled.
Sega Mega Drive has both "Arcade" and "Original" modes separately, each with their own customization options. The Magic Jewel appears only in "arcade" mode.
Initially present as an extra setting for "Original" mode on the Sega Mega Drive version, Time Trial places a three-minute time limit on a play session, so the objective is to score as many points as possible within that time limit.
Flash Columns, featured in the Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear versions of the game, has the player 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 their rank will be.
The 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.
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" an opponent, so gameplay is very similar to the above.
The Sega Mega Drive version doesn't have "Versus" mode, but 2-player "Flash Columns" mode has a "match" setting that does a similar thing.
This can be seen as a co-operative two-player mode, in which the Original mode or Flash Columns is played on the same screen with each player taking a turn in placing a column.
Exclusive to the PC Engine version when playing on a PC Engine GT (TODO)
Exclusive to the PC Engine version when playing on a PC Engine GT (TODO)
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.
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.
SystemSoft were given the rights to publish Japanese home computer versions of the game between 1991 and 1992, including the PC-8801, PC-9801 UV, X68000 and J3100. 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, on the Wii's Virtual Console service, and as part of all regional variants of the Mega Drive Mini, while the Game Gear version has been released as part of the Nintendo 3DS' Virtual Console service as well as the red model Game Gear Micro. 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, the series continues to see sequels to this day.
- Main article: Columns/Comparisons.
- Main article: Columns/Changelog.
- Main article: Columns/Magazine articles.
- Main article: Columns/Promotional material.
System C version
|Sega Retro Average|
Mega Drive version
|Sega Retro Average|
|Mega Drive, US (Sega Classic)|
|Mega Drive, US|
(Sega Classic) (newer)
|Mega Drive, AU|
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Master System version
|Sega Retro Average|
|Master System, PT|
Game Gear version
|Sega Retro Average|
|Game Gear, JP (Meisaku Collection)|
FM Towns version
PC-9801 UV version
PC Engine version
|Sega Retro Average|
ROM dump status
- Sega of Japan Virtual Console pages: Mega Drive
- Sega of Japan 3DS VC catalogue pages: Game Gear
- Nintendo catalogue pages: Wii Virtual Console: US, UK, AU; Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console: JP, US, UK
- Columns on Steam
- Columns on iTunes: JP (offline)
NEC Retro has more information related to Columns
- File:Columns GG EU Box Back.jpg
- File:Columns gg jp cover.jpg
- https://sega.jp/history/hard/gamegear/software.html (Wayback Machine: 2018-12-07 04:57)
- File:Columns md jp cover.jpg
- https://sega.jp/history/hard/megadrive/software.html (Wayback Machine: 2020-07-20 09:51)
- File:Columns sms eu cover.jpg
- Electronic Gaming Monthly, "November 1990" (US; 1990-xx-xx), page 20
- VideoGames & Computer Entertainment, "November 1990" (US; 1990-1x-xx), page 66
- Raze, "September 1991" (UK; 1991-07-25), page 76
- Sega Power, "July 1991" (UK; 1991-06-06), page 12
- Supergame, "Novembro 1991" (BR; 1999-11-xx), page 38
- Electronic Gaming Monthly, "September 1990" (US; 1990-xx-xx), page 16
- ACE, "January 1991" (UK; 1990-12-xx), page 165
- Sega Power, "December 1990" (UK; 1990-11-01), page 2
- Sega Power, "July 1991" (UK; 1991-06-06), page 20
- ACE, "September 1991" (UK; 1991-08-08), page 74
- Raze, "September 1991" (UK; 1991-07-25), page 16
- http://pda.sega.co.jp/SEGA-PDA/jp/GAME/columns-nen.html (Wayback Machine: 2003-04-16 18:44)
- http://www.nintendolife.com/games/megadrive/columns (Wayback Machine: 2017-06-13 22:35)
- https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Virtual-Console-Wii-/Columns--276720.html (archive.today)
- https://www.nintendo.de/Spiele/Virtual-Console-Wii-/Columns--276720.html (archive.today)
- http://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/KyUint2qfhtb85YzVVD6MDsCs1kDy_dR (Wayback Machine: 2010-11-22 23:52)
- https://www.nintendo.co.jp/wii/vc/software/01.html (Wayback Machine: 2017-11-23 05:03)
- http://vc.sega.jp:80/vc_columns/ (Wayback Machine: 2007-02-09 19:25)
- http://www.nintendo.com.au/index.php?action=catalogue&prodcat_id=41&prod_id=19731&pageID=4 (Wayback Machine: 2012-04-03 03:08)
- https://steamdb.info/app/34285/ (Wayback Machine: 2016-08-03 21:51)
- http://steamdb.info/app/34285/ (Wayback Machine: 2013-05-22 19:26)
- http://steamdb.info/app/34285/ (Wayback Machine: 2019-09-06 22:28)
- http://sega.jp/search/result.php?page=3&pf=32 (Wayback Machine: 2017-03-03 22:13)
- http://vc.sega.jp:80/3ds/columns/ (Wayback Machine: 2012-08-06 18:03)
- http://www.nintendo.com:80/games/detail/9DTgJWQ-6c28tSj5gfRQXEkiCMYWy0U1 (Wayback Machine: 2013-06-19 02:19)
- http://www.nintendolife.com/games/gamegear/columns (Wayback Machine: 2017-06-14 01:03)
- https://www.nintendo.fr/Jeux/SEGA-Game-Gear/Columns--764938.html (archive.today)
- https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/SEGA-Game-Gear/Columns--764938.html (archive.today)
- https://www.nintendo.de/Spiele/SEGA-Game-Gear/Columns--764938.html (archive.today)
- https://itunes.apple.com/jp/app/id420877558?mt=8 (Wayback Machine: 2017-04-01 18:10)
- http://itunes.apple.com/jp/app/id420877558?mt=8 (Wayback Machine: 2011-05-10 23:51)
- Computer & Video Games, "October 1990" (UK; 1990-09-16), page 101
- Ação Games, "Junho 1991" (BR; 1991-06-19), page 27
- Aktueller Software Markt, "November 1990" (DE; 1990-10-26), page 138
- Beep! MegaDrive, "July 1990" (JP; 1990-06-08), page 17
- Complete Guide to Consoles, "Volume III" (UK; 1990-08-xx), page 46
- Complete Guide to Consoles, "Volume IV" (UK; 1990-11-xx), page 28
- The Complete Guide to Sega, "" (UK; 1991-05-xx), page 45
- Console XS, "June/July 1992" (UK; 1992-04-23), page 128
- Mean Machines: The Essential Sega Guide, "" (UK; 1993-11-18), page 32
- Famitsu, "" (JP; 1990-0x-xx), page 1
- The Games Machine, "Novembre 1990" (IT; 1990-1x-xx), page 83
- Joystick, "Octobre 1990" (FR; 1990-xx-xx), page 113
- Sega Mega Drive Advanced Gaming, "January 1993" (UK; 199x-xx-xx), page 91
- Mega Drive Fan, "October 1990" (JP; 1990-09-08), page 79
- Mega Play, "February 1991" (US; 199x-xx-xx), page 41
- MegaTech, "Xmas 1991" (UK; 1991-12-06), page 33
- Mean Machines Sega, "October 1992" (UK; 1992-09-xx), page 138
- Player One, "Février 1991" (FR; 1991-xx-xx), page 42
- Power Play, "9/90" (DE; 1990-08-17), page 122
- Sega Power, "October 1991" (UK; 1991-09-05), page 53
- Sega Pro, "December 1991" (UK; 1991-11-21), page 21
- Sega Pro, "April 1993" (UK; 1993-03-11), page 64
- Sega Saturn Magazine, "September 1995" (JP; 1995-08-08), page 85
- Tilt, "Décembre 1991" (FR; 1991-1x-xx), page 71
- Top Secret, "Kwiecień 1995" (PL; 1995-xx-xx), page 57
- Tricks 16 bit, "Tricks Sega Gold 800 igr" (RU; 1998-03-20), page 10
- User, "Mártios 1991" (GR; 1991-0x-xx), page 66
- Complete Guide to Consoles, "Volume III" (UK; 1990-08-xx), page 35
- Complete Guide to Consoles, "Volume IV" (UK; 1990-11-xx), page 94
- The Complete Guide to Sega, "" (UK; 1991-05-xx), page 55
- Console XS, "June/July 1992" (UK; 1992-04-23), page 139
- Computer & Video Games, "January 1991" (UK; 1990-12-15), page 133
- Mean Machines: The Essential Sega Guide, "" (UK; 1993-11-18), page 131
- Game Mania, "May 1993" (UK; 1993-xx-xx), page 81
- GamePro, "December 1990" (US; 1990-xx-xx), page 138
- Gamers, "Dezember/Januar 1993" (DE; 1992-11-19), page 104
- Joystick, "Janvier 1991" (FR; 199x-xx-xx), page 116
- Mean Machines, "November 1990" (UK; 1990-10-29), page 78
- Mean Machines Sega, "October 1992" (UK; 1992-09-xx), page 133
- Player One, "Janvier 1991" (FR; 199x-xx-xx), page 50
- Power Play, "12/90" (DE; 1990-11-16), page 165
- Raze, "February 1991" (UK; 1990-12-20), page 32
- Sega Power, "December 1990" (UK; 1990-11-01), page 34
- Sega Power, "October 1991" (UK; 1991-09-05), page 56
- Sega Pro, "April 1993" (UK; 1993-03-11), page 70
- Tilt, "Février 1991" (FR; 1991-0x-xx), page 72
- Zzap!, "Febbraio 1991" (IT; 1991-xx-xx), page 22
- Beep! MegaDrive, "February 1991" (JP; 1991-01-08), page 84
- Console XS, "June/July 1992" (UK; 1992-04-23), page 147
- Mean Machines: The Essential Sega Guide, "" (UK; 1993-11-18), page 165
- Game Mania, "May 1993" (UK; 1993-xx-xx), page 70
- Hippon Super, "February 1991" (JP; 1991-01-07), page 42
- Mean Machines Sega, "October 1992" (UK; 1992-09-xx), page 143
- Sega Power, "October 1991" (UK; 1991-09-05), page 61
- Sega Power, "November 1991" (UK; 1991-10-04), page 38
- Sega Pro, "April 1993" (UK; 1993-03-11), page 74
- Sega Saturn Magazine, "September 1995" (JP; 1995-08-08), page 88
- Zero, "May 1991" (UK; 1991-0x-xx), page 91
- Aktueller Software Markt, "August/September 1991" (DE; 1991-07-26), page 126
- Joystick, "Mai 1991" (FR; 1991-0x-xx), page 166
- Player One, "Septembre 1991" (FR; 1991-xx-xx), page 68
|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 Jewel (2005) | Columns Deluxe (2008) | Jewelpet Kira Kira Mahou no Housekibako (2009) | Sega Ages Columns II (2019)|
|Columns (Mame Game) (1997) | Columns (Pocket Boy) (1997) | Columns for Zaurus (2001) | Columns for Clié (2002)|
|Unlicensed Columns games|
|Super Columns (1990)|
|Columns Related Media|
|Columns・Columns II (1991)|
|Hanagumi Taisen Columns Official Guide (1997) | Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 Perfect Guide (2000)|