Funtown Mahjong

FunTown Mahjong could, in theory, be hauled before Trading Standards. The title is only 33% accurate. There’s mahjong, of that I can be certain, but there’s no town and it’s definitely not fun. It’s like the opposite of fun. UnFunNoTown Mahjong would make it past trading standards without a second glance.

This is a game where, I think, people have gone wrong. These people are the ones who say “yes”, in the style of the Churchill dog, when a new game is waved under their noses. There should have been at least one person there who went “oh, no no no” when shown this.

Mahjong is a popular game. But when you say Mahjong to most people they think of the solitaire version – the one you can find on MSN games, Yahoo! and on the DS (to name but three). I put it to you that no-one has thought “what we really need is a competitive Mahjong title”. If this was a solitaire version of Mahjong I would not have a problem with it – in fact, I would probably have spent an unhealthy amount of time matching tiles (and being thwarted by a bad matching choice four tiles from the end, no doubt) but, alas, it’s not.

Play the tutorial, I dare you. Someone has run this through a babelfish translator online, I think as the sentence construction in the tutorial and instructions screens is diabolical. The gist of it seems ridiculously simple and, to be fair, as concepts go this one’s quite graspable. You have to make your Mahjong tiles into groups. Easy peasy. Until the rules start. You’re assailed with Chows and Pungs and Kongs – all of which are different types of moves you can play to get tiles discarded by your oponents. None of which you will remember. The game prompts you when you can make these moves, so you don’t have to rely on your memory to play but some understanding would help or you’re just in a button-pressing situation in which you lose to a badly drawn, pixelly, 3D anime face.

The sound is awful as well. The tiles don’t sound like tiles and the voices of your opponents are awful. Like they are a really long way away speaking to you with their mouths full. They only say “Chow”, “Pung” and “Kong” for the most part, you wouldn’t think they could mess that up would you? Surprise!

The game, in this format, is incredibly boring. It slows down in places, which is weird considering it’s one of the slowest games I have ever played and I don’t think it’s taxing the hardware too much. Playing against the computer is boring, but you’ll be hard pressed to find many people playing online. I went on a couple of times to the sounds of tumbleweed blowing through the ether.







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