The First 100% QuickBasic Game Review Magazine
Updated November 20, 2004

Game Reviews 42 RPGs 55 Arcade 34 Puzzle 18 Platform 10 Strategy
Sections QB News Site Archives Game Guides Our Projects Entertainment Awards QB Links
Interact QB Chatroom Mailing List Submissions Link to Us Job Openings

Columns v1.1
(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!

Game Review
Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
(Very Good)
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 game.

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.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
(Very Good)
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 we've tried.

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.

Gameplay (n.)
The 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 game package.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
(Very Poor) 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.)
The 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.
Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
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.)
The 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 by Vance Velez

Players 1 player Genre: Puzzle Game
Rating To solve: N/A Final Rating: 23/35

To download Columns v1.1 (627KB), click here.
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, use the -d option.
wTo play Columns, run "COLUMNS.EXE".

Back to Puzzle Games Page

Game Summary
Coding Group
Autumn Springs Entertainment
Puzzle Game
Homepage URL
Final Rating
23 out of 35 points

The Highs: Columns, Rows, and Flash Columns give you three puzzle games in one.
The 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.

Site Highlights
2004 QB Gaming Gold Awards Almost Set To Begin!
Get ready for this year's Gaming Golds! After a long hiatus, this year promises to be one of the biggest galas in the history of the QB world. Who will take home the gold this year?

Site Watch
Pete's QBasic Site
The original king of QB reviews is back with a vengeance! Check out the new and improved version of his website and don't forget to upload your latest QB projects to Pete's new download section!

Antz Entertainment
GBGames QBasic
HyperRealistic Games
Jocke the Beast
Pete's QBasic Site
Pickers Games Website
Piptol Productions
Programmer's Heaven
QB Colony
QB Chronicles
QB: Cult Magazine
QBasic/QuickBasic News
QBasic Contest
Statto Software


QBasicNews.comGBGames QB Game Review SiteStattoNet (Links/Site Reviews)Antz EntertainmentQB Top 50QBRPG Top 50The Hulla-Balloo NetworkQB45 (Future Software)