Legend has told of a Mahjong game that would stand out above the rest. This game would be different, original, and would finally bring an end to the dull and lifeless Mahjong games of the past. This game would be unlike the usual Mahjong Solitaire games that have players simply matching pairs of tiles, but would instead be like the traditional Chinese game of skill and chance. Zimo: Mahjong Fanatic is close, but not quite there.
To be fair, the basic goal in Zimo: Mahjong Fanatic does hark back to the traditional Mahjong game in that your goal is to make sets of matching or consecutive tiles of the same suit, but that’s about the extent of it. This is still a single player only game that has you gathering tiles in order to make matches. The only real difference between this and other Mahjong games already available as DSiWare is the way that things are set up.
On the bottom screen of your DSi you have a sort of conveyor belt slowly moving tiles across the screen while the top screen shows you a preview of which tiles are coming next and approximately how many you have remaining. It is your job to remove the tiles from the belt by using your stylus and to drag them over to empty slots that are positioned below the belt. These empty slots are set up in four groups of three and one group of two. In the groups of three you must make sets of either three matching tiles or three consecutive tiles of the same suit and in the group of two you simply need to place two matching tiles. The level is over when you’ve completely filled all of the slots, or you lose when you run out of tiles to use. After 45 levels of this, the game is over and you’ve won. Unfortunately, that’s all that there is to this entire game. Though it is true that in the later levels you run into new elements such as silver tiles that lock themselves into place, gold tiles that randomly change every 30 seconds and slightly increased speed in the conveyor belt, these challenges aren’t really enough to make the game any more dynamic or exciting. It would have also been nice to see some sort of multiplayer mode, but this is nowhere to be found.
Besides the main game, the only other thing that you can do in this game is look at the top 10 scores. These scores are all local, however, so it’s basically just to see how well you’ve done against yourself. Also interesting is the fact that you can only enter your name in the top 10 if you’ve actually completed all 45 levels. Rather than letting in anyone who plays and gets a high score, the top 10 slots are oddly reserved only for those with the patience to complete the entire thing.
The visual presentation in Zimo: Mahjong Fanatic is on the bland side with nothing too impressive to take note of. While the tiles are not very ornate or detailed looking, they are distinguishable enough to differentiate from one another, and that’s all that really matters. The soundtrack, unfortunately, sounds akin to traditional Chinese music that was recorded from the inside of a tin can. It’s strange that more care wasn’t put into the audio in this game. A relaxing soundtrack seems to stand out as a staple in most other Mahjong titles.
While Zimo: Mahjong Fanatic tries its best to capture the essence of traditional Mahjong, it falls short of providing any lasting fun. At a mere 200 Points, however, anyone who is really attracted to the concept of traditional Mahjong might want to give it a shot. For everyone else: though it may be entertaining for the first few play-throughs, this game quickly becomes a bit too repetitive to have a long-lasting appeal.