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3D Mahjong - DSiWare Review

Game Info
3D Mahjong

DSiWare | Cosmigo | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 500 Nintendo Points 
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8th September 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

To be honest, I've never really been a big fan of Mahjong. So I'm not the best person to ask about good strategies on how to play, or anything like that. But despite all that, I still have confidence in saying that people who enjoy this form of puzzle gaming will be satisfied with what Cosmigo has presented here.

    For those who have yet to experience this classic game, there's no need to worry about contending with a great deal of complexity. Although it may look intimidating at first, it's actually pretty easy to wrap your head around. In Mahjong Solitaire, you basically have a large number of tiles set out on the playing field, distributed into different stacks and layouts. You have to make pairs with tiles that carry matching symbols of the same family in order to remove them from the game. But in order to do so, a tile must have nothing on top of it, or on either side. Play continues until all tiles have been removed from the board.

    Although it may seem relatively trouble-free, you can run into a snag if you just play without giving it some forethought. If you're not careful, just like in a classic game of Solitaire, you can get stuck and get a Game Over. Or at least, that's what you'd expect. The developers put forth the effort to include a 'Reshuffle' feature that allows players to switch up the remaining tiles, so you can continue playing right when you think the game had ended. Since you're not forcibly stuck with the setup you're given all the way through, you don't need to worry about the frustration that comes from running into the aforementioned hurdle.

Now, what makes this game unique when compared with other Mahjong games is the 3D aspect. Playing in 3D Mode allows you to maneuver the playing field using two sliders, along with drags of your stylus. Alternatively, you can use the L and R Triggers for the horizontal slider, and the X and Y Buttons for the vertical one. If you angle it right, you can get a pretty good view of all the tiles on the screen. If you prefer the old-fashioned way of playing, you can adjust the game so that the 3D View stays on the top screen, whilst the main plane on the touch screen remains 2D. While playing in 3D is a neat feature in its own right, most will just opt out of it in favor of the more traditional option. It's more or less just a gimmick to make the package seem more appealing, but even without this element, it holds up well.

    What I especially liked about this game is the ability to customize the appearance of the tiles. Let's say you have trouble with Japanese writings and symbols, you can select the 'Easy' set to dumb things down to numbers and simple icons that resemble what you'd see in grade school. There's also the 'Poker' and 'Egypt' sets which are totally worth trying out since they add variety to the game. To a lesser extent, you can also adjust the look of the table you're playing on to one of 6 different designs.

Once you get a glimpse of all the different puzzles you can try, you'll realize how much content has been packed into this. And seeing such variety in the layouts is great. In terms of presentation, while the music is pretty uneventful, 3D Mahjong has some decent visuals. For example, when playing in 2D, the tiles look bold and nicely-illustrated. On the other hand, things look a bit rough in 3D mode, and the camera controls aren't perfect. I felt that the game wasn't as tight as what was seen in 24/7 Solitaire, but as a whole, the presentation is still pleasing.

    Just like with their last DSiWare collection, Cosmigo also threw in an extra mode into the collection. Memory & Matching mode consists of two different sub-modes: Memory has you flipping over two tiles at once to make matches, while Matching just displays all the tiles off the bat. Both can be played on Easy, Medium or Hard difficulty levels. While I think this does carry some appeal, some won't bother with this mode much. However, I think it's worth mentioning that if you were already bent on getting a game like Match Up! anyway, it's like you're getting two for the price of one.

    3D Mahjong is an easy game to recommend. It offers great value for only $5, and it contains no glaring flaws that should scare interested buyers. Plus, it's a nice entry for beginners to jump into, even if it's not strongly-focused towards such an audience. If this looks appealing to you, then by all means, give it a go.

24/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 8/10 - Controls and the mechanics themselves do work, Reshuffle feature is great at encouraging persistence and reducing frustration
Presentation 7/10 - Manageable layouts, camera controls and the appearance for the 3D view is a bit rough, 2D view works well, not as tight as 24/7 Solitaire
Enjoyment 4/5 - Pretty fun, accessible to both beginners and advanced players, second mode isn't as enjoyable, won't hold the interest of some for very long
Extra Content 5/5 - Multiple tile sets to make the game suitable to your skills, Memory & Matching mode, records recorded, lots of layouts for $5

Equivalent to a score of 80% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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