Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom recently made its way into our beloved PlayStation Store. It doesn’t venture far from what most people would expect from a Mahjong Solitaire game, but it does introduce a few interesting alternations to the traditional style of playing. For those who are unfamiliar with Mahjong Solitaire, it is a matching game using Mahjong tiles rather than cards. Tiles can only be matched if they have been exposed by removing all tiles to their immediate left or right. The tiles are all placed face up which allows you to see at least part of them at times, and this actually proves to make the game quite strategical.
The game has four different modes of play; Ancient Tales, Motion, Infinity and Multiplayer. In Ancient Tales you will find five books with nine chapters in each. You are presented with a chapter of the story then are asked to play a game of Mahjong Solitaire to advance the story. The art used for the Ancient Tales chapters are all hand drawn and may look overly simplistic when compared to what we expect out of games now, but they really do lend to the feel of a traditional Chinese story when combined with actual traditional Chinese stories. Ancient Tales does toss a little wrench into the traditional rule set, your object is to match a pair of tiles that are usually buried at the bottom of the pile. This makes for a different experience as you don’t have to distinctly try to clear every tile, just work your way to the two golden tiles to advance.
The Motion mode is where it gets fun… and can become extremely hard. Traditionally you just match tiles from those that are in whatever layout you are using, however Motion throws a big twist to it. While you are matching your layout tiles, you also have tiles circling around the play area which can be used to match with your tiles in play. It’s not as simple as it sounds though, as you must prevent the tiles reaching the end where a dragon waits to eat your tiles and end your game. To ease the difficulty of this mode there are also a few power-ups ranging from an an Ice Block that freezes tiles in place for a period of time to a bomb that destroys a couple of tiles around it. Motion mode starts out fairly easy but the difficulty ramps up rather quickly as you progress, especially if you are attempting to go for the ‘I Don’t Need No Stinking Power-Ups‘ Trophy.
If your the type that enjoys the normal ruleset of Mahjong Solitare Infinity mode is where it’s at. It’s straight forward Mahjong Solitare where you choose the tile and background looks and also get to choose from 100 different layouts. If your the type to easily be inspired you may also like the included Infinity Editor which basically allows you create your very own layouts using a simple and easy to use editor.
The multiplayer mode for Mahjong Tales can be quite entertaining, if you can find someone to play. Local multiplayer works great, however there is quite a lack of anyone playing online. After repeated games against the same person, it came quite obvious there was nobody playing this online. I cannot say my online experience was the most pleasant either, there was a bit of a lag and I kept getting disconnected from my opponent. I however did enjoy it, atleast the 25 seconds of decent connection that I had throughout the games.
My largest complaint is something that will become quite obvious to anyone who plays the game for any period of time, it just doesn’t take into account that it’s on a console with a controller. The lack of a ‘snap’ effect to tiles can become quite irritating during games, especially during a game of Motion. You’ll constantly try to place your cursor (which looks much like one would expect to see on a PC) on a tile just to have it sale way past the tile you were aiming for.
Overall Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom is a solid Mahjong Solitaire game, however it does little to break new ground or offer a truly unique experience even as far as Mahjong games go. As much fun as Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom can be for a quick break between games, extended play can become a rather uneventful affair.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Local multiplayer is great, but online is stale.
Motion Mode is very cool and challenging, but the rest is standard fare.