Four Winds Mah Jong is an excellent Mah Jong game that offers a variety of scoring systems to choose from, although it lacks the personality of Hong Kong Mah Jong. 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). |
The game lets you play against 3 computer opponents, selected from four different types of AI adversaries: beginner, defensive, expert, and limit maker (high-scoring hands at the expense of sloppy discards). Since the rules for Mah Jong vary greatly around the world, Four Winds offers several rule presets --Japanese Riichi, American traditional, Hong Kong mah-jongg, and European contemporary. These, however, are only default presets. Players are also free to create their own customized rules-- an excellent option that Mah Jong experts will definitely find useful.
The game is very well designed, with pretty background graphics and relaxing music. The game also boasts extensive features and a solid gameplay. There's even an excellent online Flash tutorial available at the official website that provides a quick overview of gameplay. You will also find there a cool Java-based solitaire game (the game most Westerners know as "Mah Jong") to familiarize you with the game's tile set. Overall, Four Winds is a solid Mah Jong game that looks, plays, and sounds great. The lack of opponents' personalities makes the game less personal than Hong Kong Mah Jong, but the availability of different rules and the ability to create new ones makes it different enough from the competition. Two thumbs up!Reviewed by: Underdogs