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reviews >> gameboy advance
Columns Crown

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: THQ
Developer: WOW Entertainment
Year Released: 2002
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Visuals 7.75
Solid for what they are, but a couple of the gem colors look too similar and cause some confusion during play.
Audio 6.5
The music is a possible cure for insomnia and the sound effects really don't pop.
Gameplay 6.5
I never had a beef with Columns in general, but the way this version was done was fairly unsatisfying. It still plays the same, but techniques from other known puzzle games have been fitted into this game and they just don't work.
Replay Value 6.75
The Flash Columns mode is the most challenging and addictive mode of the game, but at a certain point, the difficulty level really is a turnoff. The rest of the modes are not as entertaining, namely the endless mode, which lacks any real scoring system.
Reviewer's Impression 6.5
It was enjoyable for the first couple of hours, but then became very tedious and even aggrivating. This version of Columns really doesn't do the Genesis classic justice.
Overall 6.5
It seems like the newer generation of classic puzzle games seem to be hitting some sour notes. Tetris Worlds, for example, really managed to suck the fun of the seminal classic puzzler. Columns Crown, while not as terrible, still falls into that category of an established classic that has recieved a very disappointing update.

Columns Crown is best described as a partial evolution to the classic Genesis puzzler released back in 1989. While the core design is the same, the gameplay has been tweaked and fitted with a story on the collection of jewels lost from a crown. It's too bad that WOW Entertainment decided to stray from the classic design of Columns rather than slaps some characters on the license, because it could have been a must have game.

Columns Crown, is after all, a puzzle game, so you really shouldn't expect some depth. Puzzle games should be a nice pick up and play game that can be played anytime anywhere and not bother with stories. The original Columns is a good example of this, where you didn't fool around with a story, you went right to the game. Tetris and Dr. Mario are also good examples of this. But Colums Crown kind of overcomplicates the idea of a simple puzzler. First of all, the idea of an "arcade mode" is most logical in a game like this. CC does have it, in a way, but the scoring is all wrong. You're ranked instead of given points, which to me, seems cheap. Then there's the Vs. mode, which is a little tough for it's own good. The only mode really worth playing in this game is the Flash Columns mode, and even that grows stale. In that mode, you need to eliminate a flashing jewel to clear the stage. In later stages, it becomes so much more complicated, since the jewels are piled so high from the start. In the end, CC is just too complicated and difficult to even enjoy on short burst, which is the purpose of puzzle games (in general).

The graphics are okay for a puzzle game. The art design is adequate and things look fine, except for the use of color. Whoever thought of making orange and red nearly the same color was a moron. This is not a TV screem, it's a GBA screen, and you need to be careful on what colors are visible in lower light and what isn't. But even in good light, the colors can be hard to distinguish.

The sound is fairly adequate, with sound effects that sound much like the original Columns from the Genesis. But then there's the music. For some reason, the music makes me feel drowsy. It just has a melody that makes you tired. Go ahead and turn the sound down, you won't miss much.

If this review seems a tad bit short, it's because Columns Crown wasn't a terribly memorable game. The original Columns was so much more fun to play than the newer GBA rendition. The core design was there, but the way it was presented just made the game dull. A puzzle game is only as good as it's addiction factor, and Columns Crown just doesn't have it.