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Columns000

Title: Columns
Year: 1990
Platform: Sega Genesis (Mega Drive)
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega

In my early days of gaming, I was a pretty hardcore Nintendo fan. 

It wasn’t until years after the Nintendo 64 came out that we bought a Sega Genesis (Toys R Us was still selling new ones at the time, and I remember the day vividly). 

Along with the console, we bought two cartridges, a Sega collection cart with Golden Axe and Columns, the Sega Genesis 6-Pak, I believe, and Castlevania: Bloodlines (1994). 

The Sega Genesis, or Mega Drive, seemed like a much more mature console than the SNES or NES, as all the games I encountered (Golden Axe, Bloodlines, Columns, and later, the Phantasy Star games) had these unappealing, more realistic visuals that differed greatly from their Nintendo counterparts. Even bright and stylish Sonic games were less appealing and had a more mature visual style than the early Mario games.

Columns is the focus of this article, and my experience with it. 

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Title: Super Mario World
Platform: SNES
Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 1990

supermarioworld1

There are over seventy user reviews on GameFAQs for this game, most of which are 9/10s and 10/10s. These reviews break down the game into controls, sound, graphics, and replay value, as per typical game review format.

Obviously, the game’s controls are some of the tightest on the system, the graphics spectacular (the game’s sprites are so brightly colored and well animated and that dense world map…< 3), and the music memorable and completely whistle-worthy (every time I or anyone in a video beats a stage, I find myself whistling that end level melody). Only trolls don’t like the game and while there are a large number of people who find Super Mario Bros. 3 to be the best of the series, there are still countless others that claim Super Mario World to be the best Mario game.

Great.

But what is so special about this game? Why do I think it’s the best Mario game? On paper, it’s essentially a reiteration of its predecessor with updated graphics and controls. What is it that makes this game feel…so immense?

When the player starts up a new file, he’s given the option of either going left or right on the world map. Those familiar with the game (and who are not doing a speedrun) will go left first, as that is the path that leads to the first switch in the game. There are a handful of hidden switches on the world map that cause blocks to appear in a number of stages, making them easier or even possible at all. These switches represent one of the biggest changes from Super Mario Bros. 3: the world is no longer broken up into smaller world maps separated by video game logic.

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