Ah, Mahjong. How many hours have we wasted on this addicting solitaire tile matching game over the years? Well, depending on your inclinations, that number could potentially get bigger for 3DS owners. There are choices for Mahjong lovers on the 3DS eShop, and today we’re looking at Mahjong 3D: Warriors of the Emperor, which features a different take on the game. Is it a good match for fans of the game?
Mahjong 3D: Warriors of the Emperor is a surprisingly fun take on Mahjong. Too bad some people may never get the chance to find that out. See, there are lots of inexpensive mobile Mahjong games on mobile devices that use the touch screens on those platforms. Easy as pie. Now compare that to this version, where you use the bottom touch screen essentially as a trackpad to control the action on the top 3D screen. It’s awkward and it takes time to get used to. Probably too much time. My wife, who’s a big Mahjong fan, gave the 3DS back to me about two frustrating minutes after handing her the game. This is simply not how Mahjong was meant to be played.
If you’re able to get past the controls (even after you get the hang of them, there’s still the odd frustrating moment), there’s lots to like. The story mode sees you trying to conquer and unite the regions of China. With the POWER OF MAHJONG. Okay, it’s a little quirky, but it provides the framework for the game and even provides the odd chuckle.
Now, plain old Mahjong might get a touch boring after a while, but Warriors of the Emperor puts a few spins on the classic game that make going through the story much more interesting. Yes, there are your standard levels, but some are timed, which adds an element of pressure. There’s also the Debate levels, where you play head to head against an AI-controlled opponent on the same board trying to make more matches and score more points than them. These levels, along with special powerup tiles on some boards and special abilities (both yours and those of compatriots you pick up along the way by winning Debates) make for a satisfying Mahjong experience, even if it’s not as traditional. In addition, there are a number of freeplay levels you can unlock, plus you can create your own levels to share with others over StreetPass. This adds to what was already pretty good value for a $10 downloadable title.
Since there’s no violent content (any Battles are fought on the Mahjong field), and with the strategic and finding elements of Mahjong, this is a fine game for younger gamers to play, though it’s probably more appropriate for teens and adults just due to difficulty, though sharp pre-teens could probably handle it too.
The GamerPops Recommendation
There are lots of less expensive Mahjong games available on mobile platforms, but Mahjong 3D: Warriors of the Empire does enough to justify its price tag for 3DS-owning Mahjong fans given all the content it contains, so long as they’re okay with experiences beyond the traditional version of the game. The 3D effect is done well, and actually adds a little something to the gameplay. The only caution, and it’s a big one, is that the control scheme is unintuitive at first, will require a lot of getting used to, and could turn off players who are used to the simple see-and-touch controls they’re used to on their phones or tablets. Getting past that is a big hurdle, but one that can ultimately be rewarding.
A review copy was provided to GamerPops.
ESRB Rating Summary
Rating Category: E for Everyone
Content Descriptors: No Descriptors.
Rating Summary: This is a puzzle game in which players match tiles of the same design to clear game areas. Players complete themed levels that follow the storyline of an emperor defending his homeland.