Back in the time of the Classic Console War, Sega's answer to the mighty Tetris was Columns: the Ur-Example of the Match-Three Game. Coloured gems come down from the top of the screen in columns of three: you cannot change their orientation, but you can shuffle the three gems around in their column. The objective is to line up gems in groups of three or more, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
Compare Puyo Puyo, which also has the player matching same-colored falling "blocks" and would later be acquired by Sega.
Columns provides examples of:
- Adventurer Archaeologist: You play one in Columns III, looking for the treasure of the pyramids.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: The game was very obviously Sega's answer to Tetris. It even came as a pack-in with the Game Gear, similarly to how the Game Boy came packaged with Tetris.
- Co-Op Multiplayer: Similar to the "doubles" modes of Tengen's Tetris and Tetris: The Grand Master, the Genesis port of the original game has one, although the well doesn't use extra-wide dimensions and players take turns dropping pieces instead of playing at the same time.
- Covers Always Lie: There is a guy on the cover of Columns 3 for no reason. Trust us.
- Endless Game: Expect to hit a lot of coincidental combos when you're getting near the top that send your blocks back down again. This game can go on for hours.
- Excuse Plot: The game tried to give the games a plot. Many versions even have a 'story mode.'
- The first game has some blurb in the instruction manual about it being a game played by jewel traders in the Near East or somesuch.
- Super Columns for the Game Gear had a plot about getting an amulet back from an evil merchant. You get past her minions by challenging them to the titular game.
- Columns III had your character as an Adventurer Archaeologist attempting to find the treasure of the Pyramids. You battle bats, skeletons, scorpions, and mummies... once again by playing a Puzzle Game.
- Falling Blocks: Well, falling jewels, but still. Some games allowed you to change the jewels, to such things as dice, fruit, or mechanical parts.
- Hard Mode Perks: In the original Columns, choosing Medium (start at level 5) or Hard (start at level 10) difficulty will give you a head start of 20,000 and 50,000 points, respectively.
- Match-Three Game
- Nintendo Hard: Detractors will be quick to point out that Columns is a beginner's game due to being able to make lucky chains through making the right match by accident. Now try setting up huge chains on purpose.
- Oddball in the Series: Super Columns for the Game Gear allowed you to rotate the jewel colums into a row, as well as adjusting the order. The AI wasn't programmed to do this, giving you a bit of an advantage.
- Regional Bonus: The US version of the arcade original has an alternate gameplay BGM that can be used by changing one of the DIP switches. It went on to make a second appearance in Columns II, which was released in Japan only.
- Video-Game Lives: Columns III featured the Hourgalss of Time. If you lost against an enemy, you shatter the hourglass to warp back in time, and try again.