Sega was pretty much left out when it comes to well known puzzle games thanks to Nintendo locking up the rights to Tetris (even though for a bit it was available to Genesis gamers). Sega, and other companies, played puzzle roullette releasing all kinds of games in this genre, hoping something would take off and stick with fans. While not nearly as popular as Tetris, the Columns series did find a decent audience.
Released by Vic Tokai (seemingly Sega’s most trusted 3rd party publisher), Columns III carried on the tradtions set in the original Columns. To North American gamers, it was slightly confusing to see Columns III when we only got the original earlier. The sequel, Columns 2: The Voyage Through Time, was only released in Japanese arcade and on Japanese Sega Saturn (similarly, Final Fantasy VIII hit when we only had Final Fantasy III before that).
Differences with part three of this series that set it apart from its predecessar is that this version was competitive. No longer a single player game, gamers were forced to compete against either a second player (or more) or against the computer in a quest type challenge.
Columns III is available on Sega Genesis (a version is on the Game Gear too) and on various Sega Genesis collections. The Wii Virtual Console also has Columns III available.