This classic Chinese tile game isn't one you expect to appear as a computer game - but this new software house has corne up with a version that may interest anyone who can't get together a foursome fox the real thing. It's a one player game with the computer playing three hands against you.
The first thing to be said is that this is definitely not a game for the newcomer to Mah Jong. It is possible to work out what is going on from the instructions and the screen layout, but it would be painstaking and unrewarding. This is because the game is text only and lacks a comprehensive .instruction booklet for the beginner. However, for anyone who knows how to play and just can't get four people together it's absolutely perfect.
The computer handles all the complicated layout of the game so that you just have to worry about playing your own hand. All the tiles are denoted by a two digit/letter code, for example B6 is bamboo six and CD a green dragon. Once you're familiar with that the action is fairly easy to follow.
Their is a menu of instructions at the bottom of the screen that allow ail the normal choices; including declaring
Chows, Pungs and Kongs, taking a tile from the wail or last discard, declaring Mah Jong, discarding and viewing what the other players have declared. Above this menu line is your hand - the main part of the screen being used to show the whole discard pile as it grows.
The computer players are good, and you'll have no problem continuing very long series of games as the computer also keeps track of the scoring, it recognises special hands and concealed Pungs and generally, can't be faulted.
This is a great product for someone who's played Mah Jong, even though the screen display is unattractive. For the newcomer it's much more confusing since without having played the zeal thing all this talk of tiles and walls and so on will be completely baffling. It's a great game so if you want to find out more just borrow a real set to learn the rules, then you can visualise what's going on in the computer version.
The game is available mail order from: Liffsoft, 52 Garretts Green Lane, Yaxd-ley, Birmingham B26 2HP The ratings are from the point of view of someone who can already play Mah Jong.
BW, AMSTRAD ACTION n°12