|The First 100% QuickBasic Game Review Magazine
Updated November 20, 2004
Link to Us
(Autumn Springs Entertainment)
"Sega's Puzzle Game Falls Into Your PC"
The premise seems simple enough, as you pile
jewels onto your stash. Line up three of the same color and the jewels
disappear and end up being added to your score total. But there's one catch;
you must pile the jewels in columns. Sounds easy enough? One try and you'll
be hooked onto this Sega classic, ported cleverly to QBasic!
Once you're done playing the original Columns,
expand your puzzle skills with Flash Columns or Rows. Then, add your own
graphics skins and game settings through a very easy-to-use program!
use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
|Very good. Instead
of recapturing it the easy way, Autumn Springs entertainment carefully
re-drew the fonts and the graphics used in the Sega Columns games for their
QB port. Thanks to a resilient Future Graphics library and some programming
tricks from Autumn Springs, every last detail of Columns has been captured;
for that sake, it might be better to concentrate on the subtle differences
between the Sega Genesis version of this game and the QB version of this
But also unique to
this QB Columns game is the ability to make your own background or graphics
skin for the game. Through the use of skin files, you could place your
own graphics for the background, your own custom font, and even your own
frames for the gems. This requires some extra work in your part, but Autumns
Springs made this customization feature easy to use especially if you're
a QB programmer. If you'd like to know more about Columns graphics skins
you can check out our full-blown guide by clicking here.
The downside is that
this QB version of Columns has a little screen flicker compared to the
Sega Genesis game. The superior resolution of this Columns more than makes
up for it though; if it weren't for the flicker it'd be hard for even die-hard
Columns fans to tell the difference between this game and a straight emulation.
smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
|Very good. Autumn
Springs was quick to correct us about several errors we had when reviewing
the last version of Columns. First, we commented that this game requires
a soundcard and will not run if your soundcard is not compatible. This
isn't entirely true; the first time you run Columns sound settings will
be prompted. But even with the sound set to "off", we had problems getting
this Columns game started on a computer with a newer soundcard. But for
the record, Columns did run successfully on three of the four soundcards
The second mistruth
is that we said there was no-sound option. As said before, it is possible
to make the Columns game run without any sound effects. If you've already
made the decision to play the game with sound and you'd like to remove
that feature, run "COLUMNS -SETUP" to access the sound setup, then turn
off the sound.
Finally, the music
in Autumn Spring's game is in fact an original GDM music piece. The skin
customization feature in Columns also allows you to place your own music
files to your graphics skin, but the lack of MIDI support and choosing
to go to GDM files makes it difficult to write your own music for your
graphics. Given, a GDM converter is included to allow to convert MODs,
S3Ms, and other FM formats, but with a retro-language like QBasic, the
addition of MIDI file formats would be a definite plus.
precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
|This QB version
of Columns works exactly like the Sega Genesis/Game Gear counterparts of
the game. You start with a set of three jewels that you must place on a
board. The idea is to make a high score by matching sets of three or more
jewels of the same color. If you're successful, the matching jewels will
disappear and the remaining columns of jewels will adjust accordingly.
If you don't match enough jewels in time, the columns will pile up far
too high and the game will end.
The heart of Columns
comes from the fact that the matching jewels can occur in one of three
possible positions: horizontally, vertically, and even diagonally. At first,
accessing the more difficult-to-find matches seems more like a stroke of
luck than anything else, but suddenly with some time and effort Columns
become a serious and intricate game of pace and skill.
New to this version
of Columns is the addition of two new game modes, Flash Columns and Rows.
In Flash Columns, you have to match a flashing gem to clear the round in
the fastest time possible. Rows is a version of columns where you guide
gems oriented horizontally instead of vertically. Adjustable speed or height
is available in each mode, which makes Columns a solid three-in-one puzzle
creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
||The original Columns
didn't have much a story to begin with, and this version of Columns from
Autumn Springs is almost a direct port of the Sega Genesis title. So, no
story points can be awarded here.
|Replay Value (n.)
timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated
again and again
|Excellent. To tell
the truth, I first played Columns on a Game Gear. But this QB game is better
than the original Columns and the Game Gear incantation just because of
the convenience of play. Having keyboard controls combined with the soundtrack
and the Sega-style graphics makes this Columns game harder to let go than
the real deal. A free price tag for this game also helps.
strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and
|The key to becoming
really good in Columns is to keep in mind that you have to average about
one match of jewels per one set (to break even). The beginning of the game
can be very important to this since you have the opportunity of positioning
the first few jewels such that they're organized and ready to be matched
with the next column. Foresight is critical.
There is also a learning
curve to Columns, mainly because you have to get used to the way the jewels
have to be stacked in columns. With diagonal, vertical, and horizontal
rows all available for quick jewel disposal, along with combinations, it
takes a true pro to conquer the game's higher speed levels while still
maintaining good technique.
|Fun Factor (n.)
overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
|This game was reviewed
just after I was put offline for about two weeks and I really needed a
game addictive enough to get me back into the sport of videogame reviewing.
That is why I am eternally thankful to Autumn Springs for creating a game
like Columns for me to play. It's a classic game, it's easy to get into,
but it has enough depth to keep you coming back for more. You can't ask
for more out of a puzzler and Autumn Springs did a good job of faithfully
recreating Sega's puzzle game.
Columns v1.1 Reviewed
||To solve: N/A Final Rating: 23/35
download Columns v1.1 (627KB), click here.
you're unzipping this program in DOS, use the -d option.
play Columns, run "COLUMNS.EXE".
Back to Puzzle
out of 35 points
Highs: Columns, Rows, and Flash Columns
give you three puzzle games in one.
Lows: Sound customization made difficult
by requiring GDM files for music; it should also support have MIDI support.
V Planet! Archive
This is an archive of V Planet, circa November 2004, when the site was last active. This is read-only, and preserved here as part of the QB Zines Archive at Pete's QB Site.
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