Before being given this game to review, I had of course heard of Mahjong - but I had no idea what it really was. Keen to try something new, I decided to give this game a try. ‘It’s just like dominoes’, one of my friends said. ‘I’ll just do the tutorial’, I thought. How hard could it be? Just like in Top Gear, the previous sentence was the sign of immanent disaster.
Five minutes in, the turorial showed that I was being ambitious. Bamboo six? East? Chow? Kong? My poor head! A bit of asking around showed I wasn’t the only one confused by all this; googling the rules and printing them out helps. A lot! A shame really as a strong tutorial would have been a good selling point for those that wanted to learn.
The problem with scoring this type of game is that there is only so much developers can do. How do you score a Monopoly video game? How do you score a Chess video game? There are countless Mahjong video games available (online - not many were physically released here), what does this one do differently?
Xbox Live is the main thing going for Funtown Mahjong - chances are you won’t have many (any?) friends that know how to play, so online is the next best thing. Unfortunately the game doesn’t embrace the XBOX Live Avatars and forces you to use some basic looking anime characters (with cheesy descriptions) with hardly any personality. Little touches like this could have made the game a little bit more special instead of somewhat bland.
What it comes down to of course is do you like Mahjong? Are you interested in learning it? And would you like to play it online? If you answer yes to these then yes, Funtown Mahjong is well worth a download. If you’re not sure, try downloading a Mahjong game to see if you would enjoy it from the comfort of your couch. It’s just a pity the game didn’t have a well explained tutorial to make it the easiest way to ease yourself into the game.