Saturday, April 10, 2010
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.
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.
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.