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iPhone App Reviews: Ancient Pastime Reborn as Vibrant Mr. Mahjong Touch

Mr. Mahjong Touch, a beautiful rendition of the classic tile game, is now available on the app store. FDG Entertainment has dropped a nostalgia bomb on us with their updated version of one of the first computer games (other than solitaire) that we can recall getting hooked on at a very young age.

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For those who don’t know, Mahjong has its roots in Asian culture. It is a tile-matching game. Each board is set up with a specific type of layout, whether it is geometric shapes, zodiac signs, romantic symbols, letters, landscapes, or any of several other creative categories of items. Some tiles will be stacked on top of others, and many will be side-by-side. When the game begins, you must remove matching tiles two by two from the layout. A tile is eligible to be removed if it does not have another tile touching either its left or right side, and no tile is covering any portion of its face. Continue removing tiles until there are no more matching tiles that are eligible to be removed or you have successfully matched and removed all tiles. It is a simple concept, but it can get tricky, especially when you have three matching eligible tiles. By either removing or leaving a specific tile, you may prevent future matches later in the game that will result in a loss.

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There are 4 different level packs comprising 100 available layouts. Five categories of layouts make up each level pack, with 5 or 6 layouts per category. Only the first category of each level pack is playable at the start. Completing a category unlocks the next category, and completing a layout unlocks the next layout. There are 7 varieties of tiles, including lotus, bamboo, characters, elementals, seasons, winds, and dragons, representing increasing point values. Points are earned for the types of tiles cleared, and bonuses are earned for speedy play and successfully achieving fever mode. A fever gauge will rise as you pair tiles. Pair enough tiles quickly and the gauge will completely fill, putting you in fever mode whereby point totals are doubled. Every 100 points earned rewards you with 1 coin. Coins can be spent on special items in the Shop. Items that can be purchased include Joker (skip a layout), Undo (reverse last move), Shuffle (rearrange remaining tiles), Tiles (purchase new set), Highlight (indicate all available pairs), Hint (reveal a random matching pair), and Music (purchase new tunes).

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The graphics are outstanding, utilizing vibrant, rich colors and photorealistic backdrops. The soundtrack is one of the game’s best features, with soothing music that really sets the appropriate mood. Controls are pretty standard. Tap tiles to highlight. If both highlighted tiles match, they disappear. Pinch to zoom and drag to pan. Controls work fairly well, although there is a significant amount of mistapping that occurs, highlighting nearby tiles instead of the desired one. This can be frustrating. There are several nice options, including the ability to play your own music, auto-rotate for play in portrait or landscape, and autosave when you quit. There is a trophy case to consolidate all of the achievements you can earn along the way. Best times and point totals are maintained for each level, as well as statistics on total playtime, pairs, points, games played, and more.

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Mr. Mahjong Touch also offers the opportunity to make an in-game purchase of more layouts, if you so desire. Replay value is high, as tile placement is randomized, creating a new game every time you play. Mahjong is one of those timeless games that you can keep coming back to again and again. There are a few other Mahjong games in the app store, but nothing with the polish and beauty of Mr. Mahjong Touch. Priced at $4.99, it is actually on par with many of the other Mahjong apps, which can run twice this price, even though it may seem a bit cost-prohibitive to players accustomed to buying near-console quality FPS and sports games in this price range rather than traditional board games. Regardless of the price, Mr. Mahjong Touch settles easily into the 4-Dimple zone as the king of the Mahjong games.

Mr. Mahjong Touch gets our AppSmile 4-Dimple rating:





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