I reckon it to be about a year since I reviewed this game for Micro Mart, and yet finally, Ullyatt the Great, has got around to ViColumn's real media release. Not a moment to soon either; people who like using the VIC 20 in the flesh should be considering adding this neat little puzzler to their collection as soon as possible. As a side note, ViColumn is by none other than Jason "T.M.R" Kelk himself, head honcho of this site, so there'll be no bias here, isn't that right boss? (Did i forget to post that fiver, then...? - J =-)
It has to be said that if you're going to create a game on the humble VIC 20, (in a similar fashion to Atari 2600 homebrew games) it should be one worthy of note, and this tribute to Sega's arcade game Columns is noteworthy indeed. I nearly said "Classic" then, but to be honest, I start this review not being a fan of Columns: I find it to lack the level of skill required for Tetris, and the "addictiveness" that a good version of Tetris has. And I'll challenge anyone to come up with just one good reason to why Columns is better that Tetris. Just one. I'll await the onslaught of emails from Sega fans the world over, if they read this text that is.
ViColumn isn't an exact clone of Sega's workings. Indeed, Kelk once said to me that he concentrated on how well the game played rather than cloning the original exactly. And for that, he's come up with something better with more of a focus on playability and proficiency. You see, you can only match each coloured "gem" either horizontally, vertically or both in groups of three or more; there is no way to match them diagonally. This cuts down the amount of luck as you play, giving the player more control over the "well" and his (or her) own destiny in the game and eventual score.
Cronosoft's second VIC 20 release is commendable of its price tag, and will provide fans of the puzzle genre with hours of entertainment. It's not quite a Tetris-beater in my opinion, however it's not something that should be over-looked. There's elegant programming and a solid fun game mechanic that'll keep you coming back time and again. Accompanying its colourful graphics is a great musical score from Matt Simmonds, however it does not require any extra RAM, kudos to Cosine Systems for managing this feat. Once again, it's time to dust off the original bread-bin, grab your trusty joystick and load something that's worthy of Commodore's first fun computer. You know that you want to.