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Columns Crown Review

Developer: WOW Entertainment Publisher: THQ
Release Date: February 5, 2002 Also On: None

Ever since I first played Tetris, I have enjoyed puzzle games. As a result, when I got a GCN, I eventually bought a copy of most every puzzle game out for the system (I’m still missing one or two). However, there are so few puzzle games on GCN that, upon getting a Game Boy Player, it was only a matter of time before I bought a puzzle game for it. I had played the original Columns before and loved it, so when I saw this game used in a Gamestop for $10, I couldn’t resist. Although I could do without the girlishness of it, it is not a bad puzzle game.

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The graphics in this game are far from bad for a GBA title. My only trouble is that two of the jewel types are so similar that even through a Game Boy Player I had trouble telling the difference between them. The one time I actually played this on a GBA, it was nearly impossible to do so. Aside from that one problem, the graphics in this game are excellent for a GBA game.

The music and sound effects are standard fare for a puzzle game. They do what they need to do, but the music wasn’t as distracting as it has been for me in some puzzle games. Now, you might be saying, “music not being distracting is a good thing”, and, indeed, if it is distracting in a bad way that is true, but I am referring to that “whoa, I love this music” distraction that only happens the first couple times you listen to it until you get used to it and not the “I need to turn the sound off. I hate this” distracting that can be longer lasting. Overall, the sound does what it needs to do in a game of this type.

The story behind this game (yes, unfortunately, there is one) is very feminine. The basic gist of it is that you have this princess who needs 24 jewels to place in her Columns Crown (hence the name of the game) so she can become queen of the land. Yet, God forbid that the princess should do any work herself. No, she asks two of her friends to do the dirty work for her, and they agree to. This is such a girlish plot it almost makes me sick, but luckily, it doesn’t interfere with the gameplay.

The gameplay in this game is semi-addicting. Columns of three jewels fall from the top and the objective is to match these jewels in rows, columns, or diagonals of at least three of the same type. In the survival mode, you have your traditional last as long as you can before you die. The speed increases are a bit erratic, as occasionally you go through a couple levels where the pieces fall very fast between the normal process of speeding up, but it isn’t too bad. To make the process easier, the game will periodically send you an empty column when you have taken out a particular jewel quantity. Whatever type of jewel this empty column lands on will disappear entirely, every jewel of that type. This is good for setting up cascades and getting your jewel levels down. There are three skill levels available for this.

Also available is a Flash Columns mode. This mode is made up of timed challenge matches where there are up to three or four particular jewels in a formation that you need to clear in a given time period. There are plenty of levels on this to keep you busy.

There are also two competition modes, one against the computer and one against a human opponent. Either way, the objective is to outlast your opponent, but rather than the empty columns of the survival mode being at your disposal, every few jewels you can set off an attack maneuver against your opponent or a defensive measure for yourself. As you get more jewels of the Columns Crown, you get more and probably better attack maneuvers. You carry a sequence of five maneuvers into battle, and you choose before the battle which five you use in what order.

With all these modes to play in, this game is enough to keep any portable puzzle game fan busy for a while, and this game even holds its own very well on a Game Boy Player. I would say get this game if you enjoy puzzle games at all, and try to ignore the storyline.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7
Written by Martin Review Guide