Columns Crown (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Karn Spydar Lee Bianco 02.01.2004

Back at the time of the Sega Mega Drive and Game Gear, Columns was Sega's answer to the immensely popular Tetris. With a version appearing on both systems, it never had quite the same effect as Tetris, but was nonetheless a joy to play.

The simple gameplay devices remain, different coloured gems, (which replace the familiar blocks from Tetris) fall from the top of the screen, in groups of three, as they get lower you must rotate them so they line up with other gems of the same colour. When three of the same colour joins up, they disappear making more room on the playing area, and also opening up possibilities for multiple combos. Columns Crown specifically is the Game Boy Advance remake of this now classic game. Although the basics haven't changed much, the game adds a host of new options and features to the mix as well. Unlike the previous versions, Crown adds a plot, however flimsy it may be, there is a plot. Basically it's one of those 'tacked on' storylines that may as well not be there for all the use it is. Low-life thieves have stolen the 24 magic jewels from Princess Dazzle's crown. These jewels have a variety of elemental powers that tend to cause a lot of fun mayhem during matches. You and your friend have been assigned to retrieve them as a favour to the Princess. As such, Columns Crown is basically the original version of Columns spiced up with power-ups and versus battles. By successfully completing tasks in the various game modes you win back the gems, one by one.

Screenshot for Columns Crown on Game Boy Advance

In total there are four gameplay modes in Columns Crown: a survival mode, for single-player practice; a CPU versus mode, for collecting and using power-up items against up to eight CPU opponents; a time-attack "flash" puzzle mode, for testing your skill against 50 different challenges; and a two-player link option for human vs. human matches. Out of those modes perhaps the most fun are the modes where you are 'fighting' another player, whether it be a computer controlled character, or your best mate sitting next to you plugged into your system with a link cable. This is because when playing these modes you get to take advantage of the magical abilities that the Crown's gems provide, some of which are offensive and some defensive. This works via an onscreen indicator that gradually fills every time you clear a group of gems. When the indicator fills up to the end a power-up jewel that you can clear to trigger an elemental attack drops from the top of the screen. At first you are limited to the default two attacks, but every time you win a gem from an enemy you gain a new power, they range from lasers to speed up's and much more. So by the time you have collected all twenty four gems, you will have twenty four lovely powers to unleash on enemies. At most you will only have access to five of them in play, since you have to choose which you want to use before the match starts.

Screenshot for Columns Crown on Game Boy Advance

The graphics fit on nicely with the storyline and give the game a rather cutesy feel. Which is certainly not a bad thing, it does mean the visuals aren't necessarily anything to write home about, but there certainly nice and easy on the eyes. Pretty backgrounds litter the screen behind the player board, pausing the game gives you a better view of the whole screen, some areas are genuinely good looking, and help contribute to the games overall feel. There are also animated characters on screen, one representing you, and if your in VS mode the computer enemy. The game is very colourful and rarely dull; the different coloured gems are partly responsible for this while playing. Also a number of effects for the elemental power-ups are quite nice and add some variety to the proceedings, as does the occasional monster rampage. Music and sound effects are also as they should be, tunes are in-offensive, not all that memorable but fit in nicely. Sound effects consist mainly of 'gemy' sounds, like collecting rupees in Zelda, every time you rotate or clear a block of gems. There are also a couple of voice samples thrown in for good measure, but they don't crop up all that much.

Screenshot for Columns Crown on Game Boy Advance

There is one overall problem with the game though. It all seems very restricted, unlike Sega's other release (on the same day as it happens) of the same genre, Pyuo Pop. In comparison the gameplay is far stricter, and doesn't allow for as much freedom as the other title. It all feels like you're only getting through the levels using luck, not strategy in any way. Which all adds up to perhaps you should buy Puyo Pop Instead? But these are really rather small quarrels, the game doesn't really do anything wrong, and can be very enjoyable, especially when playing against a friend. The title is also quite old now, so you can probably pick it up quite cheap if you have a look around.

Screenshot for Columns Crown on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

In a rather disappointing turn of events, this game was released on almost the same day as Sega's other puzzle game Puyo Pop, a game which is basically a better game in all areas. Still this is worth a look nonetheless, as it doesn't have any major faults, other than the rather restrictive gameplay.

Developer

WOW

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Puzzle

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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