Puzzle games became a huge trend in gaming back when a simple block-dropping game called Tetris became one of the top games of the era back in the late 1980s, appearing on every console and computer imaginable. And there were a huge line of games ready to grab a piece of that puzzle game fame and fortune, predictably, as it is a rule in gaming to jump all over any innovator and bring out one’s own take on it.
One of those was Columns, for a variety of computers and systems but most famously for the Sega Genesis. Its take on the puzzle game was to have dropping pieces like Tetris, but not to simply fill in empty spaces in that shape, which became a bit simplistic and repetitious in the long run; instead, it used a simple “match three” system where the player lined up jewels all of the same color, getting bonuses for more than three colors in a row and/or a chain of matches as the matched gems disappeared and the other rows fell to take their place. It was a game that, to me, had quite a bit more strategy, forethought, and quick thinking than Tetris, which was a very simple game up to the point where it was simply all about reflexes and creating properly shaped holes. With Columns, you not only had to set up your matches but also mitigate the extra colors that came along with the three-gem dropped column as well.
Honestly, I was never great at the game, but that is what made it more interesting to me when compared to Tetris, since Columns was more challenging, and therefore, more fun. I still like Tetris, of course, but to me, Columns is the better game.