Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom
Posted 4 years ago By
Chances are you’ve played Mahjong Solitaire. Also known as Shanghai Solitaire or more simply as Mahjong, Creat Studios brings the classic Solitaire game to the Playstation Network. While Mahjong Tales will cost you ten dollars, similar version’s come packaged with some computers or can be found on the internet for free. So what makes Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom different from past iteration’s? Nothing.
The game is simple enough; using tiles instead of cards, you make matches to help open more tiles for matches and eventually clear the board. Mahjong Tales offers several modes, each one gives the game some unique features but the idea never changes; it’s still simply matching tiles. While this doesn’t suggest that the game isn’t fun, it felt like it was missing some more variety. The title suggests the possibility of more than just Mahjong Solitaire, so it was a little disappointing that the developer seemed to be reinventing the same game. Players can choose to play the game’s story mode in ‘Tales’, where Classic Mahjong layouts are given old Chinese tales as a backdrop. While Mahjong’s audience tends to be my age (it’s not polite to ask a woman her age), the stories don’t seem to match the material. Told as bedtime stories to the young, they seem disjointed for an adult crowd that is used to mode substance.
There are two modes that are meant to add more action to the game but again, it’s difficult to spice up an ancient, traditional game of solitaire. ‘Motion’ and ’Multiplayer’ work similar to the game Luxor, tiles appear on a conveyor belt and players match these tiles to open tiles on the board. The game offers a series of “special” tiles to the player to help them with their task. Players can play local or networked Multiplayer matches where they can create their own public and private games, or join a game already set up. Leaderboards let players see how many wins vs. losses other PSN members have acquired and unless there is a cheat I’m not familiar with, the numbers suggest the game has gained popularity among PSN’s puzzle crowd. I found it wasn’t difficult to setup and find another player to play against and lag was nonexistent. One other nice feature was the ability to schedule a re-match after losing; if the player accepts you’re game starts again.
Execution is difficult with hard to read tiles and a cursor-like
control scheme that falls victim to analog controls.
I have to give Creat Studios credit for trying to spice up a niche game like Mahjong. The game’s point and click control system would have worked better as either a Wiiware game or for the PC. I found that using the Sixaxis controller made for decent control but in switching to a Logitech PS3 controller, the game’s cursor became much harder and jerked wildly about the screen. Thankfully the game does offer some options to avoid this difficulty but this doesn’t fix the games overall awkward controls. My other complaint is regardless which mode you play, it’s still the same classic game repeated over and over! I was really shocked to see the multiplayer game did not feature the typical Mahjong game as seen in the XBLA game Funtown Mahjong. While the multiplayer is engaging, still I would have liked more game options as opposed to multiple remake’s of Mahjong Solitaire.
Multiplayer: Schedule a re-match after losing
Graphics and Sound
The graphics in Mahjong Tales fit the style of the game – the same as other Solitaire games that exist. The menus are clunky, confusing and poorly designed. Another major complaint is the lettering, it’s so small and difficult to read I was forced to ignore most of it. While it’s nice to have pretty, cursive-like writing in a delicate looking game, it’s pointless if no one can read it. The writing is a major issue because it’s used on several of the tiles, most of which look exactly alike otherwise. This is where modes like ‘Motion’ and ‘Multiplayer’, where time is an issue, become difficult and downright exacerbating. Execution is difficult with hard to read tiles and a cursor-like control scheme that falls victim to analog controls.
While this is a game of patience and recalling, the music felt a little slow. What I mean is while it fit the theme, oriental, the music is perfect if you need some extra sleep. I would have liked some extra soundtracks or even the similar themed music that helped accelerate the gameplay, especially in multiplayer modes. Unless you want to fall asleep (which this can be worth ten bucks if you have trouble in this arena), it’s best to turn the sound off in the options.
While it’s nice to have pretty, cursive-like writing in a delicate
looking game, it’s pointless if no one can read it.
With so many versions of Mahjong Solitaire on the market, some very good ones for free; it can be difficult to justify the ten dollars on Playstation Network. The game’s replay value diminishes as the developer’s seem to have repackaged the same game with a few tweaked rules. Despite an inifinite number of games available, the infinite undo’s and infinite hints give it little challenge.
One of three games by Creat Studios, I think you’ll get more entertainment from one of their other titles like Cuboid or Magic Ball. This game would have fared better on the PSP, or DS for a portable solution at the doctor’s office (which I genuinely do hope they consider this). Even a version on the Wii or PC would have been preferable, it doesn’t seem to match the PSN setting. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mahjong and Mahjong Tales can be fun in the right setting; however, difficult game controls, hard to read tiles and a sleepy soundtrack make this a good effort in need of more refining.
+ Local and Networked Multiplayer with Private and Public Games
+ No lag or difficulty finding players in Multiplayer
+ Lots of Options available for Classic play
+ Infinite Number of Puzzles available
- Game would seem to be designed for Wii or PC/Mac
- Story seems fragmented
- Four game modes but all basically the same game repackaged
- Tiles and writing are hard to read, some impossible
- Sleepy Soundtrack for the faster action Multiplayer seems mismatched
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Release Date : 2009/01/08
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : TikGames
Developer : Creat Studio
Category : Puzzle
ESRB : E
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