Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mahjong games on the PS3

Feel the need to play Mahjong on your PS3, online? Let’s take a look at several mahjong games on the PS3.

If you read my previous post, you know I’ve developed a fondness for mahjong since playing Yakuza 2. Wanting to try it online, on my PS3, I looked into the various options:

* Mahjong Kakutou Club: Zenkoku Taisenban (Mahjong Fight Club)
* Mahjong Taikai IV
* Mahjong World Janline-R Series
* SIMPLE SERIES 500 Vol 1: The Mahjong: Tsuushin Taikyoku Kinoudzuke

Offering advice on the situation was Barticle, who has a series of excellent Mahjong FAQs on GameFAQs.

Bart wrote:
As you may know, the full Janline-R game is a relatively recent retail release for the PS3. From what I've seen of it, it has the same in-game view with the four players depicted in the four corners of the screen, either as webcam images or as avatars. As such it appears to be very much oriented towards online play – and probably coaxing you into spending money on avatar upgrades too!

An important thing to keep in mind when you buy a mahjong game is: can I play the online mode (if any) if I'm based outside of Japan? From what others have told me, retail games like Mahjong Fight Club (probably the best PS3 MJ game for offline play btw) can only be played online if you pay a subscription and this requires a Japanese bank account.

Kiken on SelectButton also said the following regarding Janline-R on the 360:
If MW Janline-R is anything like the Janline game on the 360, I would stay far away. I think it was summed up best as, ‘This is not Mahjong, this is Janline’. Despite owning a J-360, the only mahjong title I’ve purchased is FunTown Mahjong on XBLA (800 space bucks). Sadly, it's Taiwanese rules (wacky 17 tile hands), but there is a fair deal of regular players online (most of whom reside in Europe). Doesn't really help you if you don't own the console, but just figured I'd toss it in.

So, Mahjong Kakutou Club: Zenkoku Taisenban (Mahjong Fight Club) can only be played offline unless you pay subscription charges, Janline-R looks a little too flashy and there’s negative views attached to the Janline name, leaving me with Mahjong Takai or Simple Series Mahjong. Considering the latter is only 500 Yen, I took a gamble.


SIMPLE SERIES 500 Vol 1: The Mahjong: Tsuushin Taikyoku Kinoudzuke on PS3 is, as you’d expect of anything bearing the Simple Series name, pretty damn rudimentary. There’s only 1 choice of avatar augmented by 6 different colours, 3 terrible music tracks, purely functional graphics, no real ability to communicate with other players, and very little in the way of extras. Unlike Yakuza 2, there are no detailed charts with scoring combinations.

If does have free online play though, and the lobbies seem well frequented despite this being released last July. I tried late in the evening GMT time (roughly 4 in the morning in Japan) and found several players. I also found a lot in the GMT morning time (later afternoon in Japan). The net code is pretty sucky though, and when two people were using my 2mb ADSL broadband line it kept timing out from the server, forcing me to hog the line all to myself (those of you on decent 16mb connections need not worry).
The options for changing the rules are extensive, and go way beyond my comprehension of the game to risk altering them. I stuck to the default and did fairly well online, adhering to the rules I learnt in Yakuza 2. One good thing the game does is, as soon as you can declare RIICHIE, it let’s you know – unlike Yakuza 2 where you had to manually check each time. As you win games your online ranking increases – I went from level 10 to level 9 this morning (woohoo!).

For 500 Yen it’s worth buying just for a few online games on occasion. Unfortunately without a guide to the point combinations, it’s only for people experienced with the game. Even after playing Yakuza 2’s mahjong for over 10 hours, I still haven’t grasped enough of the different scoring rules to play really well. I suppose you could print some off, but nothing would be as convenient as Yakuza 2’s instant look-up tables. If you do play it, Barticle’s translation tables for the other PS3 mahjong games should prove of some use, if only for the kanji on some tiles.

Fight Club

Mahjong Takai IV

Playing Simple Series Mahjong convinces me that mahjong videogames could do well in the west if only a company took a chance, translated it, and provided it to western players with suitable reading material and several pages detailing the different scoring combinations, as Yakuza 2 did. It’s honestly not that radically different from poker, and everyone loves poker.


  1. Hi Sketcz. This is a good overview and it's great to know that you got the free online multiplayer working outside Japan. Also thanks once again for plugging my guides!

    If you want to get experimental, here's a quick translation of the Simple 500 menu pics with the current settings in brackets. I'll only give brief definitions here - if you want to know more, check my guides or google the terms.


    Optional rules - left side

    1. Game length [one-round "east wind" game]

    2. Starting score [25k each]

    3. Kuitan - rule that allows the Tanyao scoring element (All Simples - one double for using only 2-8 numbered tiles) on an exposed hand (one that contains at least one set made with a stolen discard tile) [on]

    4. Riichi Ippatsu - allows the Ippatsu scoring element (awards one double for winning immediately after Riichi) [on]

    5. Multiple winners off the same tile [Atama Hane (off)]

    6. Mangan Ki(ri)a(ge) - a hand with either 4 doubles and 30 minipoints or 3 doubles and 60 minipoints will have its score rounded up to the Mangan limit of 8k/12k [on]

    7. No-ten Bappu - the amount of points shared between players on a drawn hand [3k per hand]

    8. Renchan conditions - specifies the conditions under which the dealer (east) player gets a continuance and stays on as dealer in the next hand [dealer win]

    9. Tobi - the Buttobi/Dobon rule will end a game early if one player's score goes negative [on]

    10. Dora - specifies the types of Dora bonus tiles that are recognised [all - Omote Dora, Kan Dora, Ura Dora and Kan Ura Dora]

    Optional rules - right side

    1. Wareme - the player whose section of the tile wall was broken at the start of a hand will pay/receive double points during that hand [off]

    2. Yakitori - any player who fails to win a hand during a game must pay a penalty at the end [off]

    3. Uma - at the end of a game the player in 3rd place pays points to the player in 2nd and the player in 4th pays a larger amount to the one in 1st [off]

    4. Abortive Draws - a hand can end early in one of five situations: all four players discard the same wind tile on their first turn, all four players call Riichi in the same hand, two or more players have declared four kongs (quad sets) between them, three players declare a win on the same discard tile or one player draws 9+ terminal/honour tiles at the start of a hand and chooses to redeal [off]

    5. Red Fives - some of the 5 number tiles are replaced with red versions which give one double each [off]

    6. Number of red fives in the characters suit [none]

    7. Number of red fives in the dots suit [none]

    8. Number of red fives in the bams suit [none]

    9. Time limit [off]

    Config options

    1. In-game background music [I guess that's a 3!]

    2. Tile backs colour [yellow]

    3. Mahjong table [green]

    4. In-game speech/words? [on]

    5. Something about the yama (mountain) which is the "wall" from which the tiles are drawn, perhaps an indication of how many tiles are left to be played? [on]

  2. About being automatically notified once you can call riichi: both Ryû ga gotoku kenzan! and Ryû ga gotoku 3 had that, but they went back to manual checking in 4. What the hell?