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March 29, 2012 • Gaming, Reviews

Mahjongg Artifacts for the Kindle Fire Review

The Hype:

Escape from the rush of modern life into immersive ancient atmosphere of Mahjongg Artifacts®! The prequel to Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 and a new fan-favorite comes with three gameplay modes which take you through five exotic cultures. It also comes with innovative gameplay twists, like Special Tiles that allow you to use new strategies to clear layouts, Bonuses for skillful play and Trophies for special accomplishments.

Story Mode features epic quest for lost relics, in Classic mode you can choose the layout you want to play, and in the breathtaking Endless mode you remove tiles from an ever-rising tower of game pieces.

Story mode featuring 25 layouts
Classic mode with 100 layouts
Innovative Endless mode
27 gorgeous backgrounds
Music tracks inspired by ancient cultures
Manual smooth zoom in/out and auto-zoom option

The Reality:
As I mentioned at the start, Mahjongg games have been around seemingly forever on handheld devices, and I’ve been playing them since the old Newton Messagepad days. For the majority of Mahjongg games on handheld devices, there are issues with visibility, proper portrayal of depth, and so on. Dealing with that issue is critical.

OK, I’ve come this far assuming you know what a Mahjongg game IS – so let me explain a bit just to be clear. As a Mahjongg game starts, an assortment of tiles are spread out on the screen in a nice stacking pattern (I can only imagine setting these up by hand!). The tiles are distributed randomly, and the object in general is to clear the board by matching tiles. However, you need to ‘unblock’ some tiles to reach them, which can be very challenging.

Mahjongg Artifacts varies this in a couple of ways. First, the goal if each board is to match the two ‘golden tiles’, which can sometimes be possible before clearing the rest of the tiles. When this presents itself you are faced with a choice: do I clear everything away to maximize the score or minimize my time to maximize the score. Yeah – it is a trade-off like anything else.

One thing to help you is the ability to reshuffle. As you progress and do well you get ‘reshuffle orbs’ that allow you to reshuffle the remaining tiles if you don’t like the layout. Of course, you can also get to the point of having no available moves and need to either reshuffle or restart the board, but it is nice to have the option. I’m a completist and like my board completely clear, even if doing it more quickly and not reshuffling would have gotten me more points!

I had previously played Mahjongg Artifacts on my PSP Go, and at times the small screen was an issue with visibility on some of the larger layouts. Fortunately that isn’t a problem at all on the Kindle Fire.

But if you aren’t sure of what to do, the game offers some handy tools. In general I’d let the game use the default setting for ‘auto-zoom’, which maximizes your view and keeps zooming as you clear more and more areas. But when you find seeing details challenging, you can use the Typical pinch to zoom in and zoom out. It doesn’t replace the huge view of the iPad, but it is an amazingly simple way to alleviate the most common issue of Mahjongg on a smaller screen!

The story mode intersperses the puzzles with comic panels telling the story of your adventure through a wide array of global locations. It is an interesting tale that isn’t overly deep of complex, but serves as a nice connection between all of the elements of the game, and also gives context to the stunning amount of tile and background variety.

Once you finish the story – and the story mode alone offers tons of content for a $5 game – you can enter Classic mode which is just puzzle after puzzle with 100 layouts, 5 tile sets and 27 backgrounds. Finally there is Endless mode, which has you choose tiles and background and then just dumps a stack of tiles on the screen which go on … well, forever!

I only have a single minor complaint: visualization can still be a pain even with the zooming. Again, nothing major, just a hassle.

Mahjongg Artifacts offers tons of value with a huge story mode, and endless gameplay through either the Classic or Endless modes. The variety of tiles, backgrounds, layouts and even the background music make for an excellent puzzle gaming experience that goes far beyond what you’d expect in a simple tile-based puzzle game of this type.

Here is the trailer for Mahjongg Artifacts for the Kindle Fire:

Review: Mahjongg Artifacts for the Kindle Fire

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

Price: $4.99 (free demo version here)

What I Like: Story is integrated in a way that adds to the overall experience; Tons of content between story, classic and endless modes; Overall presentation is strong – story, tiles, backgrounds and music all integrate!; Zoom feature is best ever on a handheld.

What Needs Improvement: The zooming can still leave you with less than optimal visibility

Source: Review code provided by publisher

2 Responses to " Mahjongg Artifacts for the Kindle Fire Review "

  1. […] only, G5 is offering the tile-based puzzle game Mahjongg Artifacts for FREE! I recently reviewed it for the Kindle Fire and greatly enjoyed […]

  2. […] since the Newton MessagePad. G5 has released two great Mahjong games in the past, which I reviewed here and here. Now they are back with a free-to play Mahjong game that takes you on a journey through […]

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