Review – Mahjongg Artifacts
Developer: Shape Games
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Release Date: June 15th 2010 (Chapter 2 was available in October 2009)
Price: $4.99 | £3.99 | €4.99
Rating: Each game is rated Everyone 10+
What I liked:
- A wealth of content for a Mini
- Simple, straightforward layout
- Epic music
What I disliked:
- Menu navigation is a bit wonky
First thing’s first: This is Mahjong solitaire, a casual, classical board game in which you match tiles of the same suit or design. It’s not complex in the least, and while there exist strategies to playing the game, it’s likely that you’ll just be matching until you clear the board. That being said, Mahjongg Artifacts and Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 are very impressive simulations of Mahjong solitaire. Each game has three play modes: Play Quest, Play Classic, and Play Endless. The Quest mode takes you through an archeologist’s search for legendary artifacts. Each time he finds an artifact, he has to “prove his wisdom” or some other such malarkey in the form of playing Mahjong. The Quest is lengthy, featuring 25 boards of increasing difficulty and a wide variety of locations and tilesets to help keep things looking novel. Classic mode gives you the opportunity to choose from 99 different board layouts and 5 different tilesets. Endless mode is endless mode: You play until your vision fails and you drop the PSP or PS3 remote from exhaustion.
The first thing I noticed after booting up the game was the graphics. While the graphical style is undeniably casual, there are a handful of well-drawn graphic comics that unfold the story in Quest mode. It looks good on my PS3, so I can only imagine it runs smoothly on the PSP (Editors note: There is a tad bit of slowdown on the PSP). As far as gameplay goes, you match tiles by selecting one then navigating to a similar one and selecting that one. Every once in a while I had a bit of trouble navigating, but for the most part the controls are spot on. One minor gripe I had is that navigating the menus was a bit weird since you can’t press the ‘O’ button to go back. Chapter 2 has ‘O’ button support, which is bizarre considering it was released way before the prequel. There are a few different methods of zooming in on the board, allowing for a customizable visual experience. I primarily stuck with the Auto-Zoom feature, since it’s rather intuitive and kept me at a comfortable distance from the board. Words pop up on the screen if you match tiles in rapid succession. “Excellent!”, “Incredible!”, and “Perfect!” provided just the motivation I needed to keep up the matching frenzy.
The music is great. The title screen and board clear screen music are reminiscent of PuzzleQuest in the sense that it’s rather epic for a casual board game. The music during gameplay, on the other hand, is serene, which is fitting for the action-lacked tile matching. The sound effects are spot on, with clicks, clacks, and laser beam noises accompanying the tiles as they clear.
With an expansive Quest mode and a bevy of boards for Classic play and Endless fun, Mahjongg Artifacts and Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 are jam-packed with content for a Mini title. If you’re curious about Mahjong or want a small (38MB), portable Mahjong solitaire game, pick one or both of these up. Remember, though, that at the end of the day, it’s a tile matching Mini. What it does, it does well, but it’s not trying to do too much.