My Mum had recently got into playing Mahjongg on 42 All Time Classics, and wanted a dedicated game for her DS. I've got Mahjong Quest Expeditions (spelt with one 'g' on the box), and as that has three player profiles, and no multiplayer facilities, it didn't make sense to buy another copy. So Mum decided to get a different game, and having been impressed with Solitaire DS, I thought Mahjongg DS would be as good and most of the reviews for the game on Amazon were positive, so it seemed an obvious choice. Mum paid £13.00 for the game from a seller on Amazon's market place.
The game is published by Deep Silver and developed by Braingame. The game is rated 3+ according to the PEGI suitability scheme.
After selecting the language, I can set up to four user profiles. Each player chooses the appropriate profile when they want to play the game. I like the idea of having multiple profiles as it means that other players can use the same cartridge.
The menus have been well designed with good clear buttons, and everything is easy to find. The main menu offers four options, to play the games, to add/edit and change the player profile, set various options for the game such as turning the music and sound effects off, and also the high scores section.
As with other Mahjongg type video games on the market, Mahjongg DS uses the solitaire variant, which is based on an ancient Chinese game that is normally played with 4 players. I won't go into details about the history and origins of the game, but I will briefly explain the basic rules of the solitaire version which are relevant to the game I'm reviewing.
Tiles are arranged on the board (or screen in this case) in various layouts, and you need to clear them by matching pairs of identical tiles. There are a couple of exceptions such as the four seasons - for example autumn can be matched with winter, spring or summer to form a pair. You can only select tiles which are not obscured by other tiles, or have any others to the right or left side of them within the same level. As the Nintendo DS has a touchscreen, it is a game that normally works very well on this platform.
If you're stuck you get three hints, so best used wisely; and if you run out of moves you can shuffle the tiles a limited number of times in order to complete the layout.
~The game variants~
Mahjongg DS offers five game variants including a campaign mode.
'Constructor' (which is named 'Builder' in the instruction book for some reason) uses the cleared tiles to build a palace which is completed at the end of each level. There are 40 levels to complete and these are unlocked as you progress through the game. Locked layouts show a chain and padlock, but you can play any layout you've unlocked by scrolling through the list they all have names such as 'The Five Elements', 'The Orchid' to name a couple of examples. There is no time limit on this. I felt this wasn't very challenging due to the game using very few tiles, but it is the closest to what I call Classic Mahjongg Solitaire.
'Dragon Wall' offers the same levels as 'Constructor' but these are played against the clock. You do need to be quick as you're not given much time to complete each of the layouts. I'm just not fast enough, and I didn't make much progress with this variant, and I gave up on it.
'Tsung Tsu' offers the exact same layouts as the two previous variants except you have the added challenge of ensuring that the warrior reaches the palace before the dragon does, otherwise you won't progress to the next level. The top screen shows the walls blocking the routes of the warrior and dragon, and you should aim to clear the warrior's tiles to progress through the game. I felt that this was the most challenging variant this game had to offer, as I had to think about which tiles to clear to move the warrior towards the target and stop the dragon in its tracks.
'Conquerer' is a match three game, and is played in a similar way to Bejeweled by swapping tiles with the stylus. This doesn't use the Mahjongg layouts as in the other three games as it uses boards more like other games in the match three genre. There are just over 20 layouts included and these are also named such as 'Anhai' and 'Anyang' to name a couple of examples. The aim of the game is reminiscent of Jewel Quest Expeditions where you have to change colour of the tiles, but you have to do it before the dragon is coloured in. I felt that as with 'Dragon Wall' that not enough time was given to complete the layout, and that chain reactions annoyingly slowed things down, and for me it took the enjoyment out of playing.
The campaign mode blends the above game modes into a story mode which is about dragons and warriors, which is the main theme of the game. Your task is to help Tsung Tsu recover five tiles by completing the various layouts as described above in order to fend off dragons along the way. I wasn't impressed with the storyline, but I think this is more likely to appeal to someone who likes warrior and dragon stories.
You're given four lives at the start of the quest, and if you have to shuffle the tiles, run out of time on the timed layouts, or fail to complete one of the layouts then you lose a life. If you're unfortunate to use up all four of them then it's game over and you have to start from the beginning. I couldn't complete the campaign mode as I kept running out of time on the levels that were against the clock.
I felt that the campaign mode was on the whole disappointing, and nowhere near as good as other Mahjongg based games on this platform. In comparison some of the other games offer tiles which enable special moves and/or increase the difficulty of the layout which adds interest to the game.
I was impressed with the high score tables in this game as it kept a record of the highest scores regardless of the player profile used along each of the levels as well as the campaign mode. I can imagine some people might not like this idea when sharing the game cartridge, if they'd rather not have someone else beat their high scores.
~Graphics and Sound~
The tiles on the whole are larger than other games in the Mahjongg genre; the imaging on the tiles were nice and clear. A minor criticism is that some of the layouts used a brownish grey tile which I found strained my eyes a bit especially when I'm tired.
I thought the oriental style soundtrack suited the game, but it did get repetitive as with most games, so I tend to turn the volume off.
As I thought Solitaire DS was excellent, I had high hopes for Mahjongg DS, but it turned out to be a total disappointment in my opinion. The layouts did get harder as the game progressed, but I felt that even the hardest levels weren't that challenging as not even they contained many tiles, changing the difficulty level to the hardest didn't have much effect either in my opinion. My other gripe is that I thought that not enough time was given for the two games played against the clock, which I think spoilt it all the more. I admit that my reaction times are not the best, but I have managed to play other games against the clock where the timings are more generous.
I normally love playing Mahjongg as I find it very relaxing, but I really can't recommend this version. I feel there are much better Mahjongg based games available on the market for the DS that offers a better gaming experience and more long term playability than this, so I think Mahjongg DS wasn't worth the money Mum paid. I felt that the game overall just wasn't challenging enough, and perhaps best suited to filling in a few spare minutes when you don't want a highly engaging game that's difficult to put down. I thought that the Mahjongg offering in 42 All Time Classics was much stronger than this, I expected better from a stand alone game. My Mum wasn't impressed with this either, so much that she traded it in to purchase Mahjongg Ancient Mayas. I award the game two stars.
Also on Ciao under the same membername.
I got this game as a gift and I'm addicted! There are many levels to suit all from beginners to the more advanced players and can be used by all the family. With the added bonus of the storyline to make it more interesting, especially for the younger users it is much cheaper than other brain training puzzle games and just as much fun, if not more so. There are several modes of play, the standard mahjongg game (Builder), a timed version (Dragon wall), Sung Tsu (a mode in which you have to clear specific tiles and avoid others or you loose the game!) and conqueror in which you have to match three or more tiles to change their colour until the whole board is in colour by switching tiles, this mode also has a time limit which varies between difficulty levels. The game is very challenging and the different modes mean you never get bored of playing the same game over. Watch out though, it is very addictive!!
If you are addicted to Mahjongg on the PC this is a excellent game for you!! I think this game is a great starter for getting into brain training and easliy addictive for first time users. You have the opportunity to play the game whenever or wherever you feel with the advantage of the DS. Not only is the game the classical old skool Mahjongg, it has the added twist of storylines and riddles to make the game more of an adventure as well as a good old brain teaser. This game is great for all the family or indivdual and cheaper than other brain teasing games. You can make the game as easy going or as hard as you like and you can choose what style of Mahjongg you would like to play if you wanted to change the level of intensity or style. Excellent Brain teasing and storylines.
One of the most popular Chinese games for hundreds of years, comes to the Nintendo DS. If you've ever played Mahjong before then you're sure to love this game.
Released in 2005 it's being sold along side games like Brain Training, as it's classed as a 'brain game' challenging your brain in various ways whilst you play the game.
- Gameplay -
The rules of classic Mahjongg are very easy to pick up. The various game pieces (tiles) are stacked on the board in a certain way depending on what pattern or shape the finished pile will make. There are various tiles which are to be paired with another. By clicking on both matching tiles, you clear them from the board. You cannot select tiles that are covered up partially, or are surrounded on either side by other tiles on the same level, they have to have at least one free side with no obstructions.
The goal is to clear the entire board, however the good thing about Mahjongg on the DS is that you have the option to 'shuffle', so if you have no more moves left towards the end press the 'X' button on the standard control pad on the DS and your tiles will be shuffled. However there is a limit as to how many times you can shuffle and you receive a penalty for doing so, thus losing a certain amount of points, which varies in every game.
There are 4 different game modes in total, each of which can be played at 3 different difficulty settings. There is also a Campaign mode in which you play all four of the games in various orders. You travel across China as a General of the army, protecting your kingdom against the Dragons and warriors. The campaign is divided into 5 stages, and increase in dificulty as you progress through the stages.
Builder ; This is the classic way of playing Mahjongg, you simply have to clear all of the tiles from the board, as you do so on the top screen of the DS there is a palace being built. As you clear the last remaining tiles from the board the palace is completed. There is no time limit for this game mode, although depending on how fast you complete the puzzles the more points you are rewarded each time. You have the option to shuffle the tiles in this game mode by pressing the 'X' button, however the more you shuffle the more points you lose. This game mode is great for a relaxed game of Mahjongg but is still quite challenging.
Dragon Wall ; In this game mode you have to be able to think quickly and pick out the pairs of tiles before the timer runs out. The object of the game is you are to pair up tiles and build a wall to protect the palace from a deadly Dragon attack. This is pictured on the top half of the DS screen. If you fail to clear the board of tiles and create the wall to protect the castle then you lose the game and the castle is destroyed by the dragon.
This game mode is great fun to play, as it really challenges you to think quickly to clear the board. It is one of my favourite modes to play on the game.
Sung Tsu ; This game mode is similar in some ways to the Dragon Wall mode. On the top screen of the DS you see the warrior Sung Tsu and a dragon that is threatening the palace. Both routes to the palace are blocked with tiles, one route is for Sung Tsu and the dragon and the other route is yours to the palace. You must clear your route by matching pairs of tiles, but some tiles you pair up are also included on Sung Tsu's route. If you clear his route before yours then you lose the game and he and the dragon destroy the palace. There is no time limit for this game, but its still very challenging trying to match up the right pairs on your side instead of Sung Tsu's.
Conqueror ; This mode is my favourite of the game. It's so much fun! The object of the game is to pair up 3 or more of the same tiles on the board, once you have done so that part of the board becomes bright in colour. Your goal is to match up tiles across the whole board so its all one colour. You can exchange tiles from right/left of one tile or above/below it. However the tiles can only be switched if it is going to create a row of 3 or more.
On the top of the DS screen is a picture of a dragon which as time goes on, increases in colour. There is a time limit for each puzzle of this mode, depending on what level and difficulty you are on.
- What I think of the Game -
I absolutely love this game, I had another version called Shanghai on the original Gameboy which was just as fun. You can spend absolutely hours engrossed in the game, with it's many different ways of play the longevity is fantastic. The graphics are very authentic with the theme of Mahjongg, i.e Chinese backgrounds and graphics. The sounds are of classical chinese music, with the only downside being that it hard to hear sometimes.
I'd recommend the game to anyone who likes their challenging games, like Brain Training and Sudoku, there's hours of enjoyment to be had.
It gets a tip top 5/5 from me. :)
Thanks for reading!