Hong Kong Mah Jong is the best commercial Mah Jong title I have ever played, hands down. Before I talk about the game, let's dispel some myths. Contrary to popular Western belief, the actual Mah Jong game that is played in Asia is NOT the solitaire remove-the-tiles game, but a competitive game played by four players that is similar to card games poker and rummy, but with more sets and elaborate scoring rules. The game is played in many countries in Asia, each with its own scoring system, although the basic tile set remains the same. The players essentially compete to "go out" (i.e. finish the game) with various combinations of tiles, including pairs, three of a kind, and consecutive numbers ("straight flush" in poker). |
What sets HKMJ from the competitors are numerous subtle but very neat details. Similar to Sierra's Hoyle series, each computer-controlled opponent in the game has his/her own personality, voices, animations, and even "theme music" you hear when they go out. Your own music also changes when you get a spectacular hand. After playing the game for a while, you will become familiar with each character's strengths and playing style. Another highlight of the game is excellent statistics. Great combinations you manage to pull off (ruby dragons, etc.) are commemorated in the stats, thereby giving you the incentive to work towards getting combinations that are worth more points, such as the jade dragons, heavenly gates, etc.
The game's artwork is very attractive, and the music suitably soothing. The game also includes many features to help beginners to the game, including wind/flower tile highlighting, on-line help, and so on. The more you play, the more the game will grow on you, and the more you will become addicted ;) The only weak point of the game is the lack of other scoring system: true to the name, the game uses strictly the Hong Kong way of playing. If you are curious in how Mah Jong is played elsewhere in the world (e.g. the U.S., China, Taiwan, etc.), check out other titles such as Four Winds Mah Jong instead. In all other aspects, though, Hong Kong Mah Jong is leaps and bounds better than other titles on the market today. No other Mah Jong game looks this good or feels this close to playing against real opponents. Highly recommended, whether or not you are new to the game.Reviewed by: Underdogs