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iPhone: Mahjongg Artifacts 2 - $2.99

06-25-2009, 09:58 PM
#1
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: San Francisco, California
Posts: 5,305
Mahjongg Artifacts 2 - $2.99

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=316626762&mt=8

Review: Mahjongg Artifacts 2 a glossy approach to tile swapping

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlJ2A0UqyPA
The video is from overseas but should give you a good idea of the game.

Matching games are out in force for the iPhone/iPod Touch platform whether they’re the plethora of Match 3 games or the memory-type pair matching kind to name a few. The game of mahjong is a tile matching game that has been played for generations in Asia, and you’ll find several worthy ones in the iTunes store. One that is worth considering is Mahjongg Artifacts 2, originally a PC game now available on the platform. Having spent some time with this title, the game is extremely polished, contains a storyline, and offers a few special touches that make it a standout among the other mahjong titles.

When I say extremely polished, Mahjongg Artifacts is exactly that. The game has high production values throughout from the neatly laid-out menus and rich soundtrack to the stunning graphics and elegant design. This is one of the more visually stunning games and arguably the best among mahjong games. The background images with a Far East flavor could easily be vibrantly reproduced postcards, while the highly decorated tiles pop from the screen.

The game of mahjong is rather simple: match pairs of tiles to clear the board. Of course, based on the elaborate layouts and tile designs, the challenge is that matches can only be made with tiles that are free on the left or right and that no other tile covers. Mahjongg Artifacts 2 follows the same concept, and you’ll need to make matches strategically so you don’t run out of moves or need to restart a level.

Mahjongg Artifacts 2 has three game modes: Quest, Classic and Endless.

Quest is the story mode which will take you through 25 levels in search of artifacts through 5 different locations in Asia and Europe as well as an imaginary land. The storyline involves the search for a lost explorer and the recovery of artifacts. Presented through a series of comic book panels before each level, the storyline isn’t particularly strong, but it provides an additional twist to the game. Each location has its own set of tile sets. The objective is to clear enough of the board to locate two golden tiles that once matched, complete the level. Also as you make matches, you earn pearls which can be used for functions such as hints, undo moves or board shuffling. As you complete levels, a map keeps tracks of progress as does a separate board for monitoring artifact pieces collected.

Classic, which has 99 levels, and Endless offer the standard tile matching games where the objective is to clear the board. Both offer 5 differently themed tile sets and 25 different backgrounds based on the tiles sets found in Quest mode to choose from and numerous board layouts that will undoubtedly challenge you. These tile sets and backgrounds are unlocked based on progress within Quest so you won’t have access to them until then. In Endless, unlimited layers of tiles are provided so you can match to your heart’s content. The key problem with these modes is the lack of an autosave/autoresume function so that a game in progress can be saved if a call comes in or a game needs to be put on hold. This is a significant issue for some, and I hope the devs address this soon.

The game has various special touches that deserve pointing out. First off are the perks available to help you along.

Lifting—moves any tile to the top
Shuffle—shuffles all tiles
Joker—removes all tiles of a specific kind off the board
Pearl—when matched with any tile, gives additional hint, undo moves and board shuffling function
Swapper—switches the places of two tiles
Magnet—moves a tile to the place of the magnet

As mentioned previously, match the two gold tiles and you immediately move to the next level.

The second part worth highlighting is the elegant game screen. At the bottom of the screen are several icons. In the bottom left corner is a tiki statue that when tapped, zooms in and out of the tile screen. I do find this to be somewhat of a minor issue because with tiles that are small, a zoom pinch function would probably work better. However, you can still drag around the screen to the desired location. By the way, tapping a specific spot or tile will bring up a magnifying glass to zoom in on wherever you drag it. Next to the Menu button is the Eye. By tapping on the Eye, it will highlight which tiles are free to be matched. Next to that are the hints, undo moves and board shuffling buttons, which require pearls to make them work. These pearls are stored in a container located in the bottom right corner, replenishing when you make matches, and depleting when accessing the functions I mentioned.

The game also has achievements which reward you for clearing boards, the swiftness with finishing a game, and the ability to complete a game without using undo moves, hints or board reshuffling. Random achievements pop up every so often, and it would have been ideal if an achievement section had been included so the player has a clue of potential milestones.

Mahjongg Artifacts 2 is really the cream of the crop when it comes to mahjong games from the presentation to the challenging gameplay. While the storyline is a good, yet weak feature, the Asian theme is well incorporated throughout for an immersive experience.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for mahjong fans or if you’re looking for a new game that will both mentally and visually entice you; the lack of an autosave/autoresume in Classic and Endless modes is an oversight)

Last edited by Big Albie; 06-26-2009 at 12:00 AM.
06-25-2009, 10:03 PM
#2
Joined: May 2009
Location: The Golden State
Posts: 5,809
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06-25-2009, 10:04 PM
#3
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 4,461
Game looks really nice, but I've already spent too much this month
06-25-2009, 10:37 PM
#4
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 2,710
I've purchased it yesterday and I like the game too. The Quest mode is specially a nice addition. A bit of story, artifacts and scenarios to explore. It's always something that makes you came back to play more.

It has a good production well balancing content, graphics, music and subtle sounds. Animations are not so smooth. Maybe it can be the 3.0 OS that is affecting several games.

As noted by BigAlbie the tiles are small. Mahajong is not a game to play zoomed because it's always desirable to have an overview of the entire board while removing the tiles. It is a strategic need. In resume, if you don't have really good eyes you may find the game a bit frustrating.

iPhone 6 and iPad Mini iOS 8
06-25-2009, 10:43 PM
#5
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Posts: 11,780
Do they track your best times and scores per layout?

Tim "Lord Gek" Jordan, Game Consultant
Twitter: LordGek
GameCenter, iTunes: Lord Gek
My iTunes Reviews
06-25-2009, 10:52 PM
#6
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: San Francisco, California
Posts: 5,305
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordGek View Post
Do they track your best times and scores per layout?
They track high scores per mode--arcade, classic and endless.
06-25-2009, 10:58 PM
#7
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Posts: 11,780
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Albie View Post
They track high scores per mode--arcade, classic and endless.
I always hate the confusion I have whenever I hear of an "Endless Mode". In this case does Endless mean a single level that ramps up in difficulty until it finally proves too much for the player (like what others have called Survival) OR something like Endless in Bejeweled which just means a mode of play in which you can never actually lose and therefore has no end?

Tim "Lord Gek" Jordan, Game Consultant
Twitter: LordGek
GameCenter, iTunes: Lord Gek
My iTunes Reviews
06-25-2009, 11:08 PM
#8
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: San Francisco, California
Posts: 5,305
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordGek View Post
I always hate the confusion I have whenever I hear of an "Endless Mode". In this case does Endless mean a single level that ramps up in difficulty until it finally proves too much for the player (like what others have called Survival) OR something like Endless in Bejeweled which just means a mode of play in which you can never actually lose and therefore has no end?
Yeah I know what you mean. I've only played through one on Endless mode and it seems to follow the survival pattern. In Endless, the puzzles have layers and layers that you have to go through and they progressively more difficult to the point either there no more moves or you have to use your perks to get out of it until you run out of those.
06-26-2009, 08:25 AM
#9
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Posts: 11,780
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Albie View Post
Yeah I know what you mean. I've only played through one on Endless mode and it seems to follow the survival pattern. In Endless, the puzzles have layers and layers that you have to go through and they progressively more difficult to the point either there no more moves or you have to use your perks to get out of it until you run out of those.
Okay, THIS would be rad!

But here is my fear with the other two modes. I'm willing to bet that in Quest not only do you get unlimited retries for each board but that failing at a level will not cause your score to reset, right? Either even failed attempts are added to the score as well or, AT MOST, the game will reset your score to what it was before you attempted this last board when you try again?

Tim "Lord Gek" Jordan, Game Consultant
Twitter: LordGek
GameCenter, iTunes: Lord Gek
My iTunes Reviews
07-01-2009, 11:37 PM
#10
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 6,272
Been waiting for a sale on this one and now its $.99. Time to get.