Simply Mahjong Review
Posted by Marcel van Duyn
Although moderately popular around the world, no real effort is usually made to release mahjong-based video games in the west. Only recently did the Wii finally get two downloadable ones, and now it's DSiWare's turn.
As the title hints, this game consists of mahjong and mahjong only. In particular, it's the game type that is also known as "shanghai" or "mahjong solitaire," which the two currently available Virtual Console and WiiWare releases are also based on. Aside from this, there are no alternate game modes or any other bells and whistles in sight.
In mahjong solitaire, you are presented with a large formation of tiles, which can be both next to and on top of each other. The objective is quite simply to get rid of all of them, by repeatedly matching two tiles bearing the same illustration (done by tapping them on the touch screen), removing them from the game and "freeing" more tiles for play. This is because not all tiles are actually in play at any given time – only those with no different tiles to their right or left (or both) will be available for matching. Naturally, those buried below tiles stacked on top of them are also not available for play, until those above have been cleared.
The game is divided into three difficulty levels, each offering 50 different tile formations, making for 150 puzzles in all. It also has a very nice feature for those new to mahjong: if you ever mess up and have no possible moves left, instead of restarting the whole puzzle, you can instead choose to "shuffle." This simply shuffles around the tiles you've got left at the moment, giving you possible moves again and allowing you to finish without doing everything again. Obviously, it's optional, so if you prefer to do it the hard way and test your wits, you can also start all over.
As already said, the title pretty much says it all – this is simply mahjong. Aside from the 150 puzzles, the only option you get is to change the always displayed background image to a different one of four. Graphically and musically the game looks and sounds very basic, but can you really complain about that when it's such a cheap game to begin with?
For a mere 200 points, Simply Mahjong offers quite a decent amount of content. Obviously, it would've been best if it had a random pattern generator, but with 150 to pick from, it's still pretty packed. There might not be much to do once you've cleared everything, but it'll take you long enough to make it worth the price of admission.