The game is very similar to the first game; however it features minor changes. The most notable one is that one cannot longer play by themselves, as they have to be against another opponent and win against them. Another difference is the addition of "crush bars" -bases that rise and fall- making it more challenging to keep the jewels from filling one player's side of the screen. New features include:
Action Player - 'See text above'
Story Mode a.k.a. Pyramid Columns- The player goes through levels fighting progressively harder enemies.
2 Extra Magical Jewels - There are 2 extra magical jewels as well as making a type of jewel vanish. (1. Lower the player's crash bar. 2. Raise the enemy's crush bar. 3. Destroy all jewels of a similar colour.)
Flashing Jewels - Appear when the player makes a 3 or higher chain. Clearing this piece will "curse" the enemy, distorting their screen.
1 to 5 Players - The game has several multiplayer game modes. Five players can fight against each other in a free for all.
In 2002, Columns III was one of the first Sega titles launched under Sega's short-lived agreement with the RealOne Arcade download service. The Mega Drive version was released on the Wii's Virtual Console download service in Japan on December 11, 2007, in North America on February 4, 2008, and, for the first time in PAL territories, in Europe and Australia on May 2, 2008.