a game by Sega

Platforms: Sega GenesisGenesisSega Master SystemSega Master SystemGameGear

Genres: Arcade Classics, Puzzles & Words, Strategy/War

See also: Columns Games


Prepare to journey through time with the ancients to a place where magical jewels tumble from the skies. When you reach this mystic gem show you'll face a challenge that requires quick reflexes, intuition, and steady nerves. With practice you'll be ready to take on the ancients themselves.

Match and Catch

Welcome to the world of Columns, an arcade title that's now the first Tetris-style puzzler available for the Genesis. From the moment the first bewitching strains of music twine around your brain cells, you'll find this game is very hard to put down.

As the game begins, sets of three jewels in vertical columns come drifting down from the top of the screen. Your task is to stack the jewels in such a way that they form horizontal, vertical, or diagonal rows of the same color. As each column falls you can move it to the left or the right and change the order of the jewels in the column.

ProTip: When a column appears that has two Jewels of the same color you should first check if you have a third jewel to match them and if not, quickly switch the similarly colored jewels to me top of the column so they're easily accessible for a match.

Once a column lands you have two last chances to quickly change the order of the jewels. When you create a row of jewels of the same color, they vanish, you score points, and the other jewels in your stack shift and drop into the openings left by the vanished jewels. Sometimes this creates a chain reaction of vanishing jewels.

As you reach higher levels a set of Wild Card Tiles may appear. Quickly scan your screen to see which color jewel you have the most of. Guide the magic jewels to land on this color and ah the jewels of the color vanish from the screen!

As more and more jewels drop you reach higher levels and the game becomes more difficult as the jewels drop faster and faster. Your game ends of the stack of jewels reaches the top of the screen.

  • Always try to drop jewels in such a way as to keep your stack as low as possible. As your stack gets higher you have less and less time to react in order to place your jewels.
  • Once you've got the hang of the game try to keep an eye on the window at the top of the screen that previews the next set of three jewels. By the time a column appears on the screen, you should already know where you're going to put it.

Columns for Two

Columns also includes several different game options to make it even more entrancing. In the Arcade Mode one or two players can go head-to-head or-play completely independently at easy, medium, or hard levels of play. The game tracks the number of jewels dropped, the point score, and the level reached -- so compete any which way you like.

For a more strategic style of play try setting the game to Difficult and then pausing it as the columns appear on screen. You can take your time deciding where to place the jewels, which makes for a different game.

In the Original Mode (which is easier than the Arcade Mode) one or two players can compete head-to-head or try doubles, where players take turns placing the jewels. This mode also enables you to select difficulty, pick levels, and even create a time trial situation. There are also three different ancient melodies to lull you into the appropriate state of mind.

It may take a while for Columns to reel you in. There's much more to the game than initially meets the eye. Graphically the game is simple, but the sound and the playability are excellent. Check it out in the arcades and you'll see that Columns definitely stacks up!

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Columns Downloads

Sega Genesis Columns download
  • Manufacturer: SEGA

Many say that there was an ancient Phoenician game where six kinds of exotic jewels fell from the sky. When three or more of the same kind of jewel were lined up, they would magically disappear. Well, Sega has brought this legendary game to the arcades in the form of Columns.

Using a joystick and a button, you'll control a vertically aligned set of three jewels as they fall from the top of the screen. Pressing the button will let you shuffle the three jewels as you attempt to line up three or more horizontally, vertically or diagonally at the bottom of the screen. Once you have made a match, the jewels will mysteriously flash and disappear.

Thankfully, the game gives you some time to attempt matches, because even after the pieces drop, you can move and/or shuffle for a second or so.

Using this strategy, you can correct previous mistakes by sliding jewels into matches. You may even cause a chain reaction. This can happen after a match is made, because the disappearance of some sets of jewels may cause others to fill in the blank spaces, possibly resulting in more matches. This is usually done more by accident than by skill - at least in my case that was true.

To add some spice to this strategy game, there is a special jewel that sometimes appears in the medium and difficult levels of the game. This jewel changes colors and is basically a wild card - similar to the wild file in Wax - allowing you to complete a match where you normally might not have been able to.

There isn't much to Columns graphically or in the way of animation, but that is generally the nature of strategy games. What graphics and animation are present, however, are used effectively to enhance the pleasure of the game. While the object of the game is to eliminate as many jewels as possible, your game will end if the jewels reach the top. And that seems to happen all too quickly for me, because the pace at which the pieces fall picks up drastically after you begin. It leaves me with this conclusion: if you had an easy time with the arcade version of Tetris, which left other arcade-goers gaping, then Columns is the game for you.

reggie posted a review
  • Machine: Sega Genesis

Columns, the latest of the dozens of Tetris-inspired games, offers a few variations on the original. True, it doesn't offer as many as Klax, another Tetris variant for the Genesis. But then, Klax might be a little too different for Tetris fans who can't buy the Soviet puzzle game for their Genesis systems and want the next best thing.

Columns sticks much closer to the proven formula. Colored objects gradually fall from the top of the screen, and you have to arrange them in patterns at the bottom of the screen to make them disappear. The longer you can keep the objects from piling up to the top of the screen, the longer the game lasts and the more points you score.

But unlike the variety of geometric shapes that descend in Tetris, the falling objects in Columns are all the same shape - vertical columns made of three colored blocks. You can't rotate these objects as you can in Tetris, but you can change the position of the colored blocks within each column. And unlike Tetris, your goal isn't to form unbroken horizontal rows across the bottom of the screen, but rather to form matching rows of colored blocks. When you line up three or more blocks of the same color vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, they disappear and you get points.

If any blocks are stacked atop the ones that disappeared, they'll fall downward to fill the gaps. Sometimes this triggers a chain reaction - new rows of matching blocks are formed, then disappear, thus causing more blocks to fall, and so forth. There's also a "wild card" column that eliminates all blocks of whatever color it lands on.

Basically, that's it. Columns does offer a few variations on the standard game, though. Two people can play simultaneously, and another mode lets you race against a timer while trying to uncover a flashing block buried beneath regular blocks at the bottom of the screen.

Perhaps the best new feature of Columns is the background music. You can choose from three different tunes, all much better than the average videogame soundtrack.

In short, Columns holds few surprises. It won't win any points for massive originality, but if you want to play Tetris on your Genesis, this is as close as you're likely to get.

reggie posted a review

Columns has found it way through many systems and now it is on the Game Gear. This puzzle game will challenge your mind for hours and hours.

reggie posted a review
  • Levels: 16
  • Theme: Puzzle
  • Players: 1-2
  • Difficulty: Average

Sega's strategy based game follows the same lines as Tetris except Columns is not a linear game as you can match up colors on a diagonal! As you proceed, the blocks fall faster.

reggie posted a review
  • Type: Puzzle
  • Release: Sep. 1990
  • Levels: 16
  • Difficulty: Easy

Sega's version of a Tetris-type puzzle game. In this all the pieces are the same size and shape but they contain three jewels which could be of different colors. As the piece drops downward you can switch the sequence of the jewels on the piece in order to get three or more jewels of the same color to line up either vertically, horizontally or diagonally. The matched pieces disappear, and the rest drop downward.

People say:


Columns is the first attempt by Sega to reproduce the action and strategy of a Tetris-style game for the Genesis. The game is unique and plays good, but it's not in the same league as Tetris. A nice diversion with the usually well-rounded 16-Bit features, but not incredible.


A fantastic game that is just different enough from Tetris to develop it's own following. It is better than Tetris in that you have to think in more than just the typical horizontal and vertical directions. By adding diagonal matches throws in a third dimension!


Columns is a decent falling-shape puzzle game with a Klax-inspired twist. The speed and execution of the game are good, but the theme gets tiring after a while. It's more difficult to save yourself from mistakes, lending a bit of futility to the whole thing. Nice try.


A new diversion to the Tetris type theme, both colorful and satisfying to keep me coming back. Rotate and arrange different colored crystals in vertical, horizontal and diagonal formations of three of the same. Crystals dissolve faster than the value of the Yen! For blockheads only!

reggie posted a review
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