I could easily have used Columns 3, with its vicious 5-player modes, or Columns Crown for its Flash Columns puzzles, but the original ate more of my hours than is perhaps wise to admit, so gets my nod of shame.
Columns’ greatest quality is its hypnotism. The ancient-sounding music combines with the glowing gems to create an atmosphere that switches between relaxing and frantic. Play long enough and you get “Columns Eye”, where it becomes possible to see through the screen and move the gems as if with the power of your mind. It lingers too – if I worked in a jewellers, all you’d have to do is whistle Atropos and it would be carnage. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen three similar items – three grooves in a wooden bathroom panel spring to mind -and thought "they’d disappear if I lined them up."
I can’t write too much about Columns, because surely everybody knows what it is by now. Sega seem more interested in pushing Puyo Pop on us these days, when really they have far greater puzzle games in their history, Columns and ChuChu Rocket in particular. Columns might be thought of as the poor man’s Tetris, but it’s every bit as rich.