Mah Jong Quest Expeditions (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew



Mah Jong Quest isn't the first game of its type on the DS and it's unlikely to be the last and the fact that no one holds the rights to this ancient classic is undoubtedly one reason why the gaming market is flooded with so many variations of this puzzler/ board game. I wasn't expecting much from this latest version, in fact it's sat on my 'to do' pile of titles for ages whilst the latest Need for Speed or Call of Duty fulfilled my gaming needs. I'm not averse to puzzlers though so on a quiet weekend I finally got around to giving it a test drive and, here are the results.


For those who've never encountered Mah Jong before, the concept is simple: find and select pairs of matching tiles to remove them from a board, remove all of them and you've won the game. The snag is that, in order to remove them, they need to be fully visible and this is where the strategy element comes into play, because as with chess you need to plan out your moves and the easiest apparent path may not be the best in the long run. This latest outing for Mah Jong attempts to freshen things up a little with a Quest of Story Mode. The plot revolves around Kwazi who, when struck by lightening, is divided into two separate and opposing personalities and only by reuniting these will balance be brought to the universe again, or something like that. This means some new and innovative features can be added to the classic game. There's dynamite, which will dispose of specific rock tiles, ice which melts once exposed and even an earthquake that spits the gaming area into various sections. Even once you've completed the lengthy Quest there are still the self explanatory Classic and the 'quick fix' Puzzle sections to delve into. The latter is very entertaining with each puzzle solved saved to a high score table guaranteeing that you'll re-visit the game again to improve upon your score.


Don't even consider using the traditional controls: this is all glorious touch screens.


Mah Jong has always been problematic on handheld devices and, while the various tile sets here have an incredible amount of detail, it's still difficult to see when you have a full set of them at the game's start. There are some other nice visual touches though such as the comic book style Story Mode and the various 'special event's such as earthquakes or balloons floating from the tiles but they are somewhat overshadowed by the terrible front end interface. Just what's wrong with it defies explanation but you must wonder why the developers have made it so difficult to get around? It's already a puzzler; we shouldn't need to work anything else out.


The soundtrack is wonderful and a selection of atmospheric Oriental tracks play throughout the game, perfectly matching this game.

Dual screen

Mah Jong is what the DS was designed for using, and your stylus to select and manipulate the tiles is simplicity itself and very intuitive.

Final comments

The biggest question that this title poses is exactly why you should pay out for a game that's available for much less on the PC and Mac and the only real answer should be the fact that it is portable. Refreshingly though this is an incredibly solid pick up and play title and the various modes and puzzle sections have been very well thought out. It even has a nice little soundtrack. There are some unforgiveable interface decisions at the front end and actually selecting your chosen method of play is a puzzle in itself but, that aside, this is a great version of Mah Jong and one that belongs in every gamer's collection.

Pro: Great Soundtrack, Lots of Interesting Game Modes.
Con: Terrible Front End Interface, Single Player Only.
Final score: 7.2


There are no comments yet on this article.
You could be the first one!

Post a new comment

To place a comment, you need to be logged in.
Register or log in.
Boxart of Mah Jong Quest Expeditions (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: iWin
Publisher: Avanquest Software Publishing