Monday, May 17, 2010

Video game number one hundred and twenty three: Funtown Mahjong

Video game review number one hundred and twenty three in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"FunTown Mahjong".

I don't know where "FunTown" is, but I want to find the mayor's house, break in...and wrap him up in plastic like Dexter the Dark Avenger. Next, I'd cover the walls of his house with pictures of all the disappointed gamers who played this game and force him to look at all of his victims while I explained his crimes. Instead of killing him, I'd simply convince his honor to change the name of his city to "SuckTown". Why do all this to the innocent mayor of a happy little town with a catchy name? Because that way...the developers of Funtown Mahjong would have to change the name of their title as well.....and it would be much more appropriately named.

I suppose instead of my complicated plan to take the fictional mayor of a fictional town hostage...I could simply write a negative review of this horrible title and hope that someday one of the developers is doing a vanity Google search and happens to stumble across it. Maybe he'd voluntarily change the name of the game himself. It's always good to have a Plan B, right?

I'm no Mahjong expert. In fact...I just played my first game of it a few days ago. I am not claiming to know the ins and outs of Mahjong, but I definitely know what I like...and I don't like this. I've done some reading on Mahjong (to try and understand what it was all about before writing my reviews of two Mahjong games in the last week), and this version sounds more true to the original than Mahjong Wisdom does. I can't decide if I hate classic Mahjong in general or if I simply hate this version of the game. Either way, the latter is definitely true.

I took the full tutorial (and got a nice 30 gamerscore for doing so), but it was probably the most confusing tutorial I've ever played. They tell you exactly what to do, but they don't let you know WHY you're doing it. The computer says "press this button. Good. Now press this one"...but fails to adequately explain the strategy behind the button presses. As far as the basic matching goes, the tiles don't have numbers on them, so you have to know what they are at a glance. Even on a 52" HDTV, this was difficult at times. If you're a big Mahjong fan, this might not be an obstacle, but it was annoying to a non-fan like me.

I imagine the tutorial in this game would be like a chess tutorial, where someone made all the moves for you, explaining their strategy, but never explaining the pieces or their unique traits. I left the ten minute training experience feeling just as confused as I did when I started.

Next, I decided to play against the computer. It beat me. I had no idea how or why. I figured I'd play with some real people. I logged on to Xbox Live and searched for a match. Much to my surprise, I was immediately matched with 3 others, all of whom had impressive stats they had earned from playing this game a LOT. None of my opponents had their mics on, so I wasn't able to get any pointers from them. Even though this was my second game, I managed to finish in 2nd place for the first two rounds before getting knocked out a few rounds later. I have no idea how I won a couple of rounds or eventually lost the game.

Overall Score? 2/10. This game reminds me of watching PBS on a Sunday afternoon. I'm sure you can learn great things if you want to sit and invest the time, but I'd rather play Halo.

Achievements? Here are the two I got.

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