Review by CasaDeJoey
"Ignore the "super" name and just play the game."
Back when Nintendo claimed that "they" created Tetris, and that "they" owned the rights to it and that it was "their" property, Sega couldn't have the insanely popular puzzler on the Genisis, so they opted for the next best thing; create their own puzzler and make it better than Nintendo's.
Super Columns is almost as good a title as The New Tetris. Minor upgrades and added stuff don't exactly make this game "super." With that said, don't question my score -- this is a great game, it's not just not a super game.
The game, like most 2D puzzlers, has you placing blocks on top of one another, everytime three of the exact same color is lined up (albiet diagnal, straight accross or up and down), they disappear, and the blocks on top of them fall onto of whatever's below them.
Throughout the Super Columns, you'll get various power-ups that can make or break your game. For example, if you get a flashing set of blocks, and you place it on a yellow block (and they're on the bottom), then they'll all disappear and chances are the rest of the blocks will just fall into place, making for large chains (which = more points) and clearing off the board.
However, if you happen to place the flashing blocks on top of a red block, and they're mostly at the top, then chances are it'll just kill off those and won't make for any chains or combos at all.
There are three modes to choose from at the title screen, Endless, Story and Flash. Endless is like Tetris' regular mode -- it never ends. You just play for points and what level/stage you can get to. Unlike Tetris, however, you have the option to add or take away different types of blocks (do you want four at easy, or six at hard?) and change their shape, as well (for all you Tetris junkies out there, Sega included an option that allows you to have blocks or gems).
Story mode is where you face off against a computer controlled opponent, trying to make your way to the final boss and win some treasure or something. The story itself isn't made too clear in the game, but it's a fun mode nonetheless.
And finally, there's Flash mode. In Flash mode, one, two or even three colored balls will be scattered throughout the gem-covered screen. The object of this mode is to line up two other blocks of the same color as the ball you're trying to clear. If you sucessfully pull this off, you'll move onto the next stage. Trust me, it's a lot harder than it sounds...
This game offers so much more than the original Tetris in so many ways, but it doesn't really have the action-packed fun of Tetris Attack. Costumization is a big part of the Endless mode, and that's a good thing. The sound isn't at all annoying, which keeps the gameplay at an enjoyable, not fast (but not slow either) pace.
Stack 'em all together, line six up on the bottom, do some chains or link them together for some really strange looking shapes. This game sometimes feels like a Special Edition of Tetris. And in a way, that's what it is...
I know there's gotta be a ton of Tetris junkies out there just waiting to send me hatemail about this, but I gotta say it anyway -- Super Columns has good, different and almost innovative (considering the platform it's on) tunes, but Tetris... doesn't. I have nothing against that game's music, in fact, I like it a lot, but it's nothing special, or anything "super," for that matter.
The sounds of dropping blocks on top of each other and doing various things in the game sounds pretty much as you'd expect it to. Nothing "super" there either...
Definitely not the best on the system, and certainly not the worst. Super Columns (okay, I'm sure most of you have realized by now that I'm talking about Super Columns and not Soul Calibur, so from now on I'll just refer to it at as "SC") does however, have much better graphics than Tetris does. It's a 2D puzzler! What do you want? You can't expect to see great graphics in a game like this...
"Don't let the surhpant through! If he finds out about the amulets." That's one of the great, perfectly-written, RPG-caliber lines from SC's story mode. I tell ya, they should have made an RPG about this. I'm sure Nintendo would have begged Sega to let 'em port it to N64, too.
SC's high replayability stands out the most among Game Gear puzzlers (and most of the GG games ever made, for that matter). Bust-A-Move is a pretty fun newbie to the scene, but even game magazines are getting sick of it. And I honestly don't think that after four years of owning a game like that, that I could stand to play it anymore. Well, I've owned SC that long... and I still enjoy playing it, as does everyone else in my immediate family.
Should I buy Super Columns?: Yes.
Puzzler freaks with a Game Gear can't go wrong with Super Columns. I was never that big into puzzlers (I wasn't even a big fan when I first got this game), and didn't start to really enjoy puzzle games until Tetris Attack came out, but I still enjoyed Super Columns a lot. It doesn't appear as if Dreamcast is getting an updated version, so this may be one of your last chances to play a true classic...
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 11/01/99
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