Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Columns III: Revenge of Columns (Mega Drive)

Everybody's played Columns, right? It was on the Megagames compilation cartridge that came with my (and probably a lot of other people's) Mega Drive. Also, it's not even the first time it's come up here, as I wrote about a really pointless and rubbish version of it that was featured on the Game Gear 4-in-1 cart.
Anyway, this is one of the lesser-known sequels to Columns. For some reason, the second game didn't get a home port until years later, on the Saturn as part of the Japan-only Columns Arcade Collection. As a result, I've never played that game.
Like most mid-90s puzzle games, this one focuses on versus play, rather than single player survival. In fact, it has no such traditional mode, with the only single player mde being against CPU opponents. There's also versus modes available for up to four players! Another strange thing about Columns III is that there's no scoring at all.
Unlike most versus puzzle games, there's no automatic attack inflicted on your opponent when you do well, but rather, there are two numbers beside your pit that increase as you clear gems. Clearing more gems in one go or scoring chains makes the numbers go up significantly faster.
The large blue number goes up for each individual jewel cleared, plus bonuses when applicable. It maxes out at thirty, and it's your main method of attack. When you press C, for every ten points on this meter, the bottom of the opponent's pit will rise up one square. Doing this attack also has the side effect of trashing the set of jewels the opponent is currently placing, adding an extra bit of strategy to it.
The smaller white number beneath it goes up by one for every set of jewels you clear, and each time it reaches a multiple of twenty, a flashing magic gem appears. These work very differently to how they work in the original game, being split into three parts: a square, and two triangles, one pointing up, the other down. You only get to land one of the three, and each has a different function. The upwards pointing triangle raises the opponent's floor two squares, the downwards one powers your own floor significantly (assuming you have been on the receiving end of your opponent's attacks), and the square has the traditional function of erasing all of whatever colour it lands on.
You'll also recieve items for winning the first few battles in single player mode, which you should really try to save until the last boss.
Columns III is a pretty good game. Definitely a lot more interesting than the original, which I've always found pretty boring, despite its excellent visual and aural presentation. Oddly enough, this game is somewhat lacking in those areas compared to its progenitor, looking and sounding a fair bit cheaper in comparision. Still, it's definitely worth playing.
PS. I've recently revived my long forgotten tumblr account, so if you use tumblr, you should go and follow me and make me feel popular.
PPS. The next post on this blog will be the 100th! Should I do something special? Or just make it a regular post?

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