Mahjong solitaire is a true gaming classic; it's simple and absolutely addictive, and done right the game can zap hours away from the clock. Companies love producing versions of the design because no one owns the rights to the original concept, so the Nintendo DS isn't lacking in the Mahjong Solitaire. You'll find it in Nintendo's own Clubhouse Games
as well as a cool Scrabble-like variation in this year's release of Word Jong on the handheld system. Mah Jong Quest Expeditions is yet another variation of the design, based on a downloadable PC edition from iwin.com. Yet another game proves that Mahjong solitaire is a timeless favorite: this release may lack a feature or two that many Mahjong solitaire games take for granted, and the menu system is the absolute pits, but the variations that this game offers over the standard Mahjong solitare ruleset keeps things fresh and fun, and its pricepoint -- 15 bucks as of this writing -- is something that you just can't pass up.
Mah Jong Quest Expeditions is the standard Mahjong solitaire fair. In this single player game, you get a stack of Mahjong tiles that must be removed two at a time. Tiles can only be removed if they have a matching pair exposed, and if each tile is not being blocked on the left or right by other tiles. It's a simple idea, but man, it's a time suck because of its addictive nature. Like the classic card game Klondike Solitaire, not every randomization of the stack can be solved, so you'll have to deal with the fact that you'll be poking at a design that might not have a real solution.
What this version brings to the table is a few new variations on the concept, namely tiles of various powers. Dynamite tiles can explode specific rock tiles. Ice tiles will melt and reveal tiles underneath if you remove adjacent tiles off the board. Balloon tiles will float away if you manage to free them from underneath other tiles. These variations are only a part of the Mah Jong Quest portion of the game íV if you just want to play with the standard tiles and rules, the classic mode's in here. But what iwin.com created for this package brings a few clever wrinkles that you should check out. Other neat additions are puzzle modes that use the normal Mah Jong Quest rules, but with subtle variationsíKlike face down tiles that you'll have to remove in a specific order to move on. Each puzzle in the game saves the score to cartridge, so you always have something to shoot for even after you've done the task once.
The classic tile pairing game gets a few new twists.
The gameplay in Mah Jong Quest Expeditions is designed well with really good use of the Nintendo DS touch screen. What hurts the product is the absolutely awful, cluttered menu system that uses icons to represent functions, instead of simply spelling it out. You want to restart the game? Or quit to the menu? Good luck figuring out which of the menu buttons does that. This rendition also doesn't offer an easier tileset íV one of the biggest complaints many gamers have is that the Chinese-style tiles cluttered together gets hard to read, so most self-contained Mahjong solitaire games create a set of tiles with more straightforward designs. There's only one tile set in Mah Jong Quest Expeditions, so if your eyes tend to hurt after focusing on tiny details in DS games, this game will make them ache.
Mahjong solitaire keeps puttering along as one of the most fun and addictive public domain videogame designs ever created, and Mah Jong Quest Expeditions, a conversion of a PC download, is a really good version of it with lots of cool variations on the game design. But it's not perfect: the confusing menus are the absolute pits, and the eye-straining tiles -- something that all Mahjong solitaire designs have íV can't be changed into something a little easier on the peepers. But it plays well otherwise and it's priced to move, so don't miss out on one cool pick-up-and-play DS title.