Just one moirai go...

You wait ages for a Tetris clone and two come along at once - and neither are clones.

Columns will probably look familiar to you, if not because you've played it before then because you've probably played something very similar to it, likely on a mobile phone. It's one of those games that are so simple to get into that before you know it, you've missed the bus, and it's started to rain, and your bag's been stolen.

I don't use public transport, I have no idea what I'm talking about. The point I'm trying to make though is that Columns is so simple a game that it and versions of it can be found everywhere you look, so the gameplay must be pretty good to have survived in some form for all these years.

Fun Times

Whichever mode of Columns you're playing, be it against an opponent or the clock, your task is simple. A block of three different coloured gems are dropped down the screen, and you must position this tower somewhere useful. You can change the order of the gems, rotating through the various colours so that you best make use of them, for what you need from them is to form a line of three or more matching colours, horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

Doing so will score you points, remove the gems, and anything above any newly made holes will fall down into place, potentially completing another line of three gems and repeating the process again.

Do this again and again and again until you're bored or out of luck and you have yourself a game of Columns.


Boy does it get fast, though? Like similar games, if you start Columns on a higher difficulty thinking you can hit the ground running, you'll have to have played a fair beforehand in order to succeed, as the difference between the even the two lowest starting speeds is really rather noticeable.

As blocks drop from the top of the screen you'll need to line them up into a useful spot and rotate the order of the gems too, and at panic-inducing paces you will slip up and your screen will fill with all manner of different coloured gems, none of which look like a line of three.

This isn't too much of a frustration, however, as it's simply what happens when you play and what you'll need to overcome to be better at Columns. The problem is that there's a sense of 'is that all there is?'

Final Word

Now I might be unfairly comparing Columns to a mobile port or spin-off or something that resides in my brain somewhere, so I don't know if 'is that all there is?' is really the question to ask. I do get the sense that there's entertainment here, but perhaps not enough to stick around - and yet there's potentially enough addictive gameplay to do exactly that, to stick around for one more game, because this time you might beat your high score.

Columns is easy to recommend because it's an easy game to pick up and play. How long you'll stick with it is really up to you. And your skill level, your spatial awareness, your reaction time...

Fun Facts

The three different music tracks are named after the Moirai of Greek mythology, who, for those of you who don't know, are Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, who control the thread of life for each and every one of us.

Columns, developed by Sega, first released in 1990.
Version played: Sega Mega Drive, 1990, via emulation.