Solitaire mahjongg today looks nothing like its older counterpart from 10 years ago. Back then, the biggest features were the variety of themed tile sets and the graphics. Now they come with stories, different modes of play, power ups, and other twists. Mahjongg Artifacts, Chapter 2 follows Mahjongg Artifacts’ footsteps in providing a quest mode that occurs in five countries. Well, actually, four countries and one virtual place.
In Quest mode, you go on a — what else? — quest to find a friend. A level consists of a full solitaire game, but it doesn’t require clearing the board to succeed. The level ends when you find the two matching golden tiles. Power ups, hints, undo, and shuffle help you along the way. The game works like any other mahjongg game in that you make pairs. As you make matches, you earn pearls.
Rather than freely giving players all the hints, undo, and shuffle they want, players must purchase them with pearls, which are the game’s bread, dough, moolah, lolly, loot, dinero, or whatever you call money. Add the power ups to mix and the game keeps players hopping. Instead of spending mucho pearls on shuffle, watch for power ups that swap tiles, move a tile to the top, and shuffle a small section of tiles, among others.
Upon finding the two golden tiles, the game cuts to the comic book style scene with a story update. The well-drawn scenes have an anime look and feel. The story could use a smoother transition from start to end and provide more details. Furthermore, the story is incomplete and ends abruptly. The good news is that it doesn’t take much away from Quest mode thanks to the travels, tiles, and artifacts. Artifacts hide in every level, but the artifacts don’t tie in tightly with the story as they could have.
After spending five levels in a country, players move on to the next. Most countries are in Europe and Asia with one in an unknown place. A new country means experiencing a new theme of tiles and a welcome change of pace. With 25 levels in all, the Quest could go on a little longer. I’d trade Endless mode for a longer quest. Hey, I’ll even trade Classic mode for a longer trek.
Since there are five countries, there are five tile themes. Each one is lovely, but sometimes it’s hard to tell what goes with what. Mahjongg players know that some pairs don’t have to be identical like the flowers and seasons. With themes, it isn’t easy to figure these out. The same goes for the power ups. I think using tooltips would help.
The game awards trophies, which pumps the players’ egos and motivates them to keep on. These rely on tooltips, but sometimes they don’t pop up without some effort. My eyes are thankful for the feature that reveals open tiles so I don’t spend a lot of time trying to find them. OK, so this is a shortcut or cheating perhaps, but more games await my eyes for reviewing. They need a break!
System Requirements: Windows
- Windows 2000/XP/Vista
- Pentium 3 800 MHz or faster processor
- 256 MB RAM
- DirectX 8.0 MB or later