Mahjong is one of those games that has always fascinated me – both the solitaire version that most PC gamers are familiar with and the competitive version of mahjong (sometimes called the “real” mahjong). Shanghai Majong is one of the former – the solitaire version of the game. For those who have never been exposed to the game, the idea is simple – a number of tiles are places in a stacked pattern on the board and you need to find open (free on one side) pairs in order to remove the pairs from the board. The goal is to remove all of the pairs from the board. Shanghai Mahjong is one of the first I’ve seen on the iPad. So lets take a look!
First, this application is listed as a Universal app, for both iPhone/iPod Touch as well as for iPad, but I’m looking primarily at the iPad version here, and it is absolutely gorgeous! There are, via free in-app downloads, a variety of backgrounds, and tile sets (more than 40) you can choose from and they are all rendered beautifully! The additional size and resolution of the iPad is used to good advantage by the beautifully rendered tile sets. The background graphics are also beautiful, with more available via download. Additionally, you can also use items from your photo album as well, meaning that the background choices are virtually endless!
This game also offers 200 board layouts of varying skill levels to keep you busy for a very long time!
In kind of a fun, whimsical touch, when you clear a board, you are presented with a fortune!
In an unusual twist, the game has an option they call Windstorm mode. When you normally play, tiles can only be removed if they match and are free on the right or the left. In Windstorm mode, the tiles are restricted/unrestricted based on the “prevailing winds”. If the winds are going East-West, then play is as normal, but if they winds are North-South, then you can only match/remove if the top/bottom of the tile are free. It makes you think about the game differently than before and offers a nice variety to normal gameplay, especially as the winds can “shift”!
What I liked: The visuals! They are stunning. And the ability to customize is greatly appreciated! The depth of gameplay available due to the large number of layouts and the variety added via the Windstorm mode, keeps the game interesting.
What Could Be Improved: Not much. This game is pretty straightforward, and they have made it much more customizable and offered more gameplay variety than you usually find in these kinds of games. Excellent implementation!
Overall: I really like this version of Mahjong (solitaire). It’s highly customizable and very attractive. Gameplay choices are varied and excellent! If you like Mahjong, you will find sufficient skill levels and variety to keep you playing for a long time. I recommend it highly! Shanghai Mahjong is currently available in the AppStore for $2.99.