iPad Game Review: Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 HD Reviewed by JadeDragon
Rooted in one of the most popular PC casual games, Mahjong Artifacts: Chapter 2 HD for the iPad brings us the same eye-catching graphics and endless gameplay from the desktop version in an addictive package. The only difference here is that you play with your finger while sitting on your sofa. It?s hard to label a game "one of the best" on the iPad since not many games have made it to the iPad, but if you plan on owning one Mahjong game on this new gaming machine, Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 HD should be on your shortlist if not the front runner.
Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 HD has 3 playing modes with 5 sets of tiles, though some tile designs might challenge the Mahjong tradition, the game has something for everyone. The flashest playing mode is Quest Mode in which a short story takes you on a long journey to 5 locations in Japan, China, India, Egyt and Greece. Each location offers 4 games and has a unique set of mahjong tiles that features the local culture and history. Anyone who?d shown my grandma the mahjong tiles printed in Indian artifacts, Egyptian drawings or Roman swords would get a solid slap on the head, the more modern mahjong fans will find these tile designs absolutely charming. If you start the game in Quest Mode you will experience the extra action provided by some interesting power-ups. They can move tiles, switch them, drag them off the board and more. If you consider yourself a Jedi mahjong player, then you?d clear the Quest Mode in a couple of hours. And then come the Endless play and Classic play.
Endless play mode is fun because you can enjoy all the power-up action in a none-stop single game. As you clear up the tiles, the game adds more tiles to the bottom. You get not only all the power-ups but also to choose the tile set and the background image. Tile shuffle is very forgiving in the beginning, but eventually the board will run out moves. That?s where the jade pearls come in. In both Quest and Endless modes you can earn jade pearls by removing the tiles with pearls embedded in them. When the board runs out of moves, you give up some jade pearls to re-shuffle the board. And when the pearls run out while the board also runs out moves, the game is over. Quest mode gives you overwhelming number of pearls and it?s very unlikely that you will ever run out of them. But in Endless mode the pearls come few and far between in comparison, and you will run out of them sooner or later.
Classic play mode is for the diehard traditionalists who love their Chinese Mahjong tiles in different layouts. That?s not to say that you can?t choose to play in other tile sets and by no means it?s a boring playing mode. You can choose to play in any of the 5 tile sets, many backgrounds and 99 very different layouts. In the Classic mode you don?t collect jade pearls. The game gives you a full jar of them in the beginning of the level and if you use them up while the board runs out of moves you will have to retry the level. This requires more thinking on strategy than in other playing modes, luckily the game offers an option to peek into the locked tiles so that you can plan your current and future moves accordingly.
For all your hard work, you get to collect a large number of artifacts (achievements). The game keeps a local score but no global scoreboard available.
Graphics & Sound
Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 HD plays in a landscape view and the touch control works very smoothly. The graphics look luscious in 3D. The tiles look sharp and very easy to recognition regardless provenance, and the background images bring out the tiles nicely. Action animations play a big part in the game?s graphics and they can set off like fireworks if you keep the actions tight. The menu and the interface are all very polished.
Complimenting the fabulous graphics is the equally excellent audio. Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 HD has both captivating background music and lively sound FX. Sound tracks featuring Asian instruments and percussion sound pleasing and authentic, and they don?t get too boring even after a long playing session. Sound FX is also excellent accompanying the visual actions on the screen. Should you wish to play the game in silence, the game has an option to turn both off.
It?s easy to make a Mahjong game but it?s very hard to make one that can impress a veteran player. Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 HD managed to impress us with awesome graphics, varied and plenty of game playing modes and very polished presentation. The different tile sets and many power-ups add something extra to the gameplay dynamic and lots of action. We thoroughly enjoyed the journey as our iPad?s battery enjoyed some workouts.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Gorgeous looking tiles, backgrounds and polished menu and interface. Sound: - 4 - Engaging background music and excellent sound FX. Controls: - 5 - Very smooth touch control. Gameplay: - 4.5 - Lots of gameplay with three expansive playing modes, 5 sets of tiles and many backgrounds to choose from. Power-ups make the game more fun.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- Peeking at the locked tiles can help you plan the current and future moves. In many Classic levels, you will need to play the moves to solve the board.
- Matching the Gold tiles will win the game regardless how many tiles still left on the board. Seize the opportunity when you can.