February 13, 2009

FunTown Mahjong

When we first downloaded this arcade game I wanted to have the first go at it as I was eagerly anticipating this title. However, what I thought would be Mahjong Solitaire a type of Mahjong that I had played and really enjoyed previously on some of my PC game collections turned out to be the original four player Mahjong.

Having had no previous experience with this game I found the tutorial to be a necessity and very informative after a confusing jump into a single player game. If this game is unfamiliar to you as well, by the end of the tutorial and possibly with a few written help notes if you’re memory isn’t the greatest like mine you should be ok to play a game on your own.

FunTown Mahjong is a tiled based game played with a beginning hand containing sixteen tiles and 144 tiles in total. To win the round you must make a Mahjong which involves linking your tiles in 5 groups of either: straights (3 sequential tiles of the same suit), triples (3 identical tiles) and a pair (2 identical tiles). You can achieve these groupings by either drawing a required tile on your turn or by picking up tiles that are discarded by other players. You can only pick up a discarded tile if it will complete a grouping and there are certain criteria and moves you must make/call in order to pick up the discarded tile: “Chow”, “Pung”, “Kong”, “Ting” and “Hu”. These moves will be best described in the tutorial and how to play discussion located in Help and Options. This game requires a fair bit of strategy and some tile counting to eliminate impossible pairings or straights that you may be attempting to form in your hand.

The original background for the game has your table set in the middle of a relaxing beach scene with gently blowing winds that cause the trees and plants to sway and the ocean to rise and fall. There is a catchy little tune that plays repetitively throughout the entire game and humorously your opponents are so relaxed that their hands seem to sway identically in motion with the wind. The games colours are bright and vibrant and the characters are cute with a Japanese cartoon feel to them. If you want to change the scenery you can download a Chinese Festival background from the Xbox Live Marketplace for only 160 Microsoft Points. The game also gives you the option of playing with the international or the original tile covering. From what I could tell the only difference is the original tile covering displays the numbers and letters in their original Chinese characters.

FunTown Mahjong can be played single player in which you select three AI opponents of varying skill level (easy, normal or hard) or you can play multiplayer against your friends via Xbox Live. I found the game enjoyable but, a bit too complex for my liking and this didn’t even include understanding the scoring system as I required notes just for basic game play. The game is good for all ages but may be a little too complicated for younger children.

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