Important Importables Review: Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 for Dreamcast

April 11, 2010 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 for Dreamcast

Section: Reviews, Exclusives, Originals, Features, Columns, Japanese Imports, Consoles, Consoles-Other, Game-Companies, Developers, Publishers, Genres, 2D, Adventure, Puzzle

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Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2

Title: Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2
Price: $14.90 – $44.90
System(s): Dreamcast
Release Date: January 6, 2000
Publisher (Developer): Sega (Tenky)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Pros: Has classic columns gameplay, story modes, dating sim elements, voice acting, multiplayer options, great music, lots of characters and there’s even online multiplayer. There’s also secret stuff to unlock, like pictures and extra mini-games.
Cons: You probably have no chance of playing online multiplayer with anyone anymore.
Overall Score: 10/10

Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 is a strange amalgamation of a puzzle-game and simulation. The best way to approach it is to compare it to Super Puzzle Fighter II, a game that did make it outside of Japan. Like Super Puzzle Fighter II, Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 takes popular characters from Sega’s Sakura Taisen and Sakura Taisen 2 series and has them battling using Columns puzzles. Unlike Super Puzzle Fighter II, Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 has simulation elements in the Arcade and Story modes and occasional challenges that require you to solve puzzles rather than defeat an opponent.

Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2

Saving Tokyo and falling in love while completing puzzles.

Part of the beauty of Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 is the number of story modes available. It’s like you’re getting multiple games in one. The first single player is Shonen Red vs. Benitokage and, like the first Hanagumi Taisen Columns has the girls fighting to play the lead role of Shonen Red. The second is a general story mode following the lives of the character through a few episodes. The third story mode has you playing as one of four secret characters to try and be the director of Shonen Red vs. Benitokage.

From there you pick a character and then play Columns, a game where you try to match dropping gems to create chains of three or more.. All of the characters from Hanagumi Taisen Columns return (characters from Sakura Taisen) and additional characters from Sakura Taisen 2 round out the cast. In addition to that, between Columns puzzles in the Story mode, there are story segments where Ichiro Ogami has the opportunity to try and win the hearts of the girls of the Imperial Floral Assault Group.

Each character also has the ability to attack during Columns puzzles. A gauge builds up as you eliminate gems, and once it’s full you can attack your opponent, store up power so you can release a more powerful attack or defend against future attacks by removing some gems from the bottom of your screen. Once you’ve stored up as much energy as you can, you can also have the option to release hearts that will destory all of whatever color gem they touch from your screen.

Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2

Columns with a purpose.

The story modes are what will first get you interested in Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2. Playing against the computer can get quite addicting, and earning the additional story scenes, characters and presents only adds to the pleasure. Also, each character’s path is slightly different, so you’re getting many different stories to experience.

The multiplayer mode is also handled exceptionally. It plays the same way as the story mode’s battles, only instead of facing a virtual opponent, you’re playing against a real person. It’s quite satisfying, since there’s a level of challenge and sense of purpose gained from playing that you just don’t get from playing against the computer. Back when the Dreamcast was in its prime, you could even connect to the internet to play online against other players.

But Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2‘s greatness doesn’t end there. It also contains normal Columns modes. You also have access to Endless and Puzzle modes. The Puzzle mode requires you to solve certain gem puzzles and remove all gems from the screen without failing, and the Endless mode allows you to just keep matching and removing gems for as long as you’d like.

Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2

Another way to experience and enjoy Sakura Taisen.

While Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 is a fairly text heavy adventure, it doesn’t compare to the visual novel aspects of the original Sakura Taisen and most of the focus is on playing a competative version of Sega’s Columns. It’s a perfect choice for people who always wanted to try one of the original Sakura Taisen games, but knew they wouldn’t be able to enjoy the experience because they couldn’t speak the language. The visual novel segments that are present aren’t too difficult to navigate, since the choices are almost always in hirigana and katakana. It’s an entertaining game, whether you’re alone or with friends and whether or not you can understand the language.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports looks at some occasions when beverages and video games collided.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports reviewed Mobaccho!, Apollo and Dessert Pocky.

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Full Story » | Written by Jenni Lada for Gamertell. | Comment on this Article »

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