For anyone looking for a relaxing pastime to while away the hours, there isn’t anything close to experiencing a great game of Mahjong. Although substantially different from the Mahjong played in café’s in China and Japan, Mahjong on a console is still a challenging and relaxing game that exercises the brain, helps the concentration and can easily suck you in for days at a time.
The idea of the console version of the game is simplicity itself: match two identical tiles by selecting them and removing them from the board. Be tactical in the tiles you’re selecting as you have to uncover them as you go along. Uncover the right ones and you get access to the tiles beneath. Uncover the wrong ones and you’re stuck. Simple to play and very tough to master.
Pure Mahjong, developed by the binary family is probably the best looking version of the game we’ve seen since reviewing Mahjong Deluxe 3 on the PS4.
Offering four Mahjong puzzles a day with varying levels of difficulty (ranging from easy to very difficult), Pure Mahjong depicts each of the 24 solar terms which reflect the changes in climate, agriculture and everyday life in China. Each successfully completed puzzle is rewarded with a calorie free fortune cookie, an inspirational quote and the chance to compare your time with other gamers from all over the world.
With over 1000 puzzles to beat, Pure Mahjong could take you hundreds of hours to complete. And, if the four daily puzzles aren’t enough to satisfy your Mahjong craving, there’s also the Tea House – a section offering more puzzles and challenges.
The tiles are set against a soothing backdrop with a gentle calming tune playing as you tackle each challenge. The visuals in this game are first class and are easily among the best we’ve seen on a casual game on any platform. Offering high resolution photo realistic graphics, Pure Mahjong is a sheer delight on the big screen. Every image is an artistically created collage based on real pictures and the result is simply stunning. Take a look at the screen shots and you’ll see what we mean. The tiles are beautifully rendered, the 3D effect is convincing enough to give you the impression that you’re looking at real tiles and each of the 144 designs are suitably different for you to recognise the differences at a glance.
As the name suggests, this is, however, a no frills Mahjong experience with no unnecessary functions or features. During our week or so giving Pure Mahjong a road test we, on the one hand, understood the need for a clean, frill-free interface and design. But on the other hand we occasionally missed them and wished the game was more forgiving. Quite often we would find ourselves stuck on a challenge and unable to match any tiles. The game would not suggest any moves or, in fact, let you know that you’re indeed stuck. So we’d have to hit the reset button again and again. In some of the puzzles we eventually had to give up as the challenge seemed to be unsolvable. On at least one occasion I got a friend who’d popped in for a chat to look at the board for me and see if there was anything I was missing. He confirmed that I was, and I quote, ‘up the creek without a paddle.’ So I skipped the puzzle and moved on. Although I enjoyed my experience with Pure Mahjong, I know that experience would have been greatly enhanced if there was some sort of hint system that could offer a suggestion every now and then.
Control-wise, Pure Mahjong lends itself well to the Switch touchscreen. In fact I found that more intuitive than using the controllers. A few times I found it a little tricky to select the pieces to be moved using the Joycon and opted to undock the console and revert back to touch screen.
These minor niggles aside, and they are minor, Pure Mahjong is a beautiful, relaxing and challenging game that easily ups the Mahjong ante (if there is one). A definite must play for newbies and experienced gamers.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pure Mahjong Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
A beautiful, relaxing and challenging game that easily ups the Mahjong ante.