Review: Sega Columns Deluxe
On July 25, 2008, iLounge published iPhone Gems: Action Puzzlers, Table + Pinball Games, a feature article looking at eight assorted games developed for the iPhone OS. This review focuses on only one title from the collection; you can read the full article, with screenshots of all of the games together, through the link above.
Years ago, after Nintendo acquired the rights to Tetris for the Game Boy, Sega came up with a wannabe called Columns—a shallower, prettier game where players matched like-styled gemstones in an attempt to rack up points—to give fans of its Genesis/Mega Drive and Game Gear hardware something similar to play. Nearly 20 years later, Columns has been released for the iPhone in an updated version called Columns Deluxe, bundled with a second Sega puzzler known originally as Puyo Puyo, and here as Puyo Pop.
We’ll cut to the chase: Columns Deluxe is a very sloppy port. Sega should be embarrassed by the quality of this two-in-one title, which looks almost as if it’s slowly running the old Game Gear games under emulation, a shame given that the iPhone’s hardware is capable of outdoing the superior, console versions of both games.
Columns provides a split screen view of two empty wells that gradually fill with multi-colored gemstones. You use finger swipe gestures to move the gems into position, and as matched gems disappear, the remaining gems fall and sometimes trigger chains of additional matches. Puyo Pop is based on the same idea, only replacing the gems with blobs that merge together as they touch, and more easily make matches than the Columns gems. Besides possessing choppy, poorly animated art and unimpressive audio, both of the games incorporate terrible use of the iPhone/iPod touch accelerometer to move pieces around; you’ll want to turn it off immediately in favor of the swipe gestures, which also don’t work all that well. Similarly, though the screens are split into two wells, both games are only single-player titles—you versus the CPU—which takes away the rest of the fun both games offered in earlier, better versions. Our advice: skip this piece of shovelware unless Sega radically improves everything from the interface to the art and audio.