This is your typical Mah Jongg solitaire game, with the exception of the special modes found in the daily challenges. Your goal is to remove every piece from the board by finding pairs of available tiles. A tile is considered to be available if there is nothing on top of it and at least one side is exposed. If you need help, there's a short tutorial and an option to highlight available tiles during play.
The daily challenges feature three alternate ways to play:
The Lightning Tile games feature several pairs of the aforementioned lightning tiles. These explosive tiles have a number on them, and every time you make a match, the number decreases by one. If the number reaches zero on any lightning tile, they all explode and you lose the game. To prevent this, you'll need to match the pairs of lightning tiles as soon as possible.
During the Match challenges, you're tasked with making a certain number of matches before time runs out. These challenges are typically easier than the others, as you can normally get away with going crazy and matching everything you see instead of planning your moves ahead of time. After all, you don't need to complete the layout.
This type of game involves playing for score. You'll get a higher score if you can make a number of matches in quick succession, so a little planning goes a long way. Just remember to keep moving, as there is a time limit. Again, you don't need to complete the layout in this mode, so just focus on finding pairs as quickly as possible.
Simple Mah Jongg games have been available for nearly every operating system out there, and it's great to see Microsoft stepped up to the plate with one of their own. They did a wonderful job on it too, making it a must have for fans of solitaire Mah Jongg games. The biggest drawback is the small selection of tilesets, though I suspect everyone can still find a favorite among them.
Four tile themes
51 total layouts
One of the nice things about playing Mah Jongg on the computer is that you can often select some pretty tilesets. This game only has four -- an underwater set, a traditional set, a space-themed set, and an autumn set -- but they are all well made tilesets. The backgrounds that come with the tiles are also eye candy
, as they frequently animate or do different things. For example, the underwater theme features fish and seahorses swimming around behind your tiles.
Achievements and medals
The game's 51 layouts are ranked from easy to expert. However, at the beginning of your game only the first layout in each difficulty group is playable. You unlock
the other layouts by solving the earlier ones in the same group.
There are a grand total of 40 achievements
for player to earn in this game, many of which are earned by completing some pretty specific actions. For example, there's an achievement
called Wind Waker. To earn this achievement
, you need to match the North, East, South, and West Wind tiles in sequence without matching anything else in between.
Each month also offers medals for solving the daily challenges -- these come in bronze, silver, gold and diamond. Earning the diamond medal for the month requires a lot of effort, but an experienced fan of Mah Jongg can reach it with a little patience and a lot of free time.
Unfortunately, there's a trade off for this game being free. Every so often, you'll need to watch a 30 second advertisement before you can begin your game, and there are banner ads in some out of the way places. These ads aren't terribly intrusive (as they never interrupt a game in progress), so they are easy to tolerate.
The premium version is based on a subscription
During the normal game mode, you can also "purchase" an extra reshuffle by watching another advertisement. This choice is entirely yours to make, as you are given the option of just losing instead.
If you want, you can purchase a premium license for this game. The catch is that it costs $1.50 per month or $9.99 a year. In other words, you're purchasing a subscription. That will add up over time, and while being able to play without ads, having an extra reshuffle and earning the monthly challenge medals easier would be nice perks, a subscription model seems like a bad deal all around.
Premium means subscription
As mentioned above, you can spend real money on a monthly or yearly basis for very few perks. There are other Mah Jongg games out there, so the question comes down to whether or not playing a game with the occasional advertisement is worse than spending a yearly fee. Personally, I'd stick with the ads.