Review: Microsoft MahJongg





Table of Contents

Quick Information

Rating: Pretty Fun
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Additional Notes
This game is free!This is an app!Ad supported
Age Rating Suitable for children 6 years old and older
License: Free to Play
System used: Thaddeus
Available From: Windows Store

Game Screenshots


Catching lightning in a tile


A traditional game


Playing for score

General Notes

Simple Mah Jongg games have been available for nearly every operating system out there, and it's great to see Microsoft stepped up to the plate with one of their own. They did a wonderful job on it too, making it a must have for fans of solitaire Mah Jongg games.

The biggest drawback is the small selection of tilesets, though I suspect everyone can still find a favorite among them.

Gameplay Summary

This is your typical Mah Jongg solitaire game, with the exception of the special modes found in the daily challenges. Your goal is to remove every piece from the board by finding pairs of available tiles. A tile is considered to be available if there is nothing on top of it and nothing to at least one side. If you need help, there's a short tutorial that plays before you begin.

The daily challenges feature three alternate ways to play.

The Lightning Tile games feature several pairs of lightning tiles. These explosive tiles have a number on them, and every time you make a match, the number decreases by one. If the number reaches zero on any lightning tile, they all explode and you lose the game. To prevent this, you'll need to match the pairs of lightning tiles as soon as possible.

During the Match challenges, you're tasked with making a certain number of matches before time runs out. These challenges are typically easier than the others, as you can normally get away with going crazy and matching everything you see instead of planning your moves ahead of time.

The last type of game involves playing for score. You'll get a higher score if you can make a number of matches in quick succession, so a little planning goes a long way. Just remember to keep moving, as there is a time limit.

Pros

Four tile themes
One of the nice things about playing Mah Jongg on the computer is that you can often select some pretty tilesets. This game only has four -- an underwater set, a traditional set, a space-themed set, and an autumn set -- but they are all well made tilesets. The backgrounds that come with the tiles are also eye candy, as they frequently animate or do different things. For example, the underwater theme features fish and seahorses swimming around behind your tiles.


Automatic saving
With exception of the daily challenges, you can leave the game at any time and come back to it again later. This way you can solve the different layouts at your own pace and take plenty of breaks.


27 total layouts
The game's 27 layouts are ranked from easy to expert. However, at the beginning of your game only the first layout in each difficulty group is playable. You unlock the other layouts by solving the earlier ones in the same group.


Achievements and medals
There are only three achievements, but there are quite a few medals available. Each month also offers medals for solving the daily challenges -- these come in bronze, silver, gold and diamond. Earning the diamond medal for the month requires a lot of effort, but an experienced fan of Mah Jongg can reach it with a little patience and a lot of free time.


Cons

Ad supported
Unfortunately, there's a trade off for this game being free. Every so often, you'll need to watch a 30 second advertisement before you can begin your game, and there are banner ads in some out of the way places. These ads aren't terribly intrusive (as they never interrupt a game in progress), so they are easy to tolerate.

During the normal game mode, you can also "purchase" an extra reshuffle by watching another advertisement. This choice is entirely yours to make, as you are given the option of just losing instead.


The premium version is based on a subscription
If you want, you can purchase a premium license for this game. The catch is that it costs $1.50 per month or $9.99 a year. In other words, you're purchasing a subscription. That will add up over time, and while being able to play without ads, having an extra reshuffle and earning the monthly challenge medals easier would be nice perks, a subscription model seems like a bad deal all around.


Concerns and Issues

Premium means subscription
As mentioned above, you can spend real money on a monthly or yearly basis for very few perks. There are other Mah Jongg games out there, so the question comes down to whether or not playing a game with the occasional advertisement is worse than spending a yearly fee. Personally, I'd stick with the ads.