Mahjongg Artifacts is a PSP Mini based upon the traditional Chinese game of Mahjongg. The game sees you trying to collect all of the pieces of a lost ancient magical talisman with the evolving story being presented before each of the levels as a comic strip. The aim of the game is pure and simple; match two of the same tiles together as a pair from the left or right that has no tile covering it to remove them from the board to get closer to the two golden tiles that when paired together will end the level. I have played Mahjongg games since the retro days of the Amiga and 3DO, so it filled me with joy to see Mahjongg games make their presence felt on the PlayStation Store.
Graphically, Mahjongg Artifacts is everything that you would expect from a Mahjongg game as it does exactly what it needs to do. The comic strip that tells the story is well drawn, while the tile sets and backgrounds are rendered perfectly.
The game provides you with three game modes including: quest, classic and endless. The quest mode allows you to play through the story in sequence, while also allowing you to go back and replay levels you have previously completed as you wish. The classic mode allows you to play through anyone of ninety-nine layouts, while the endless mode provides you with an everlasting amount of layouts. The classic mode and endless mode both provide customisation options in the form of five available tile sets and twenty-seven backgrounds. The five tile sets are rather varied in their design and look totally unique from one another, while the still backgrounds are on occasion similar in their design; they are different from one another with an inspirational vibe to each and every one of them.
The controls work well with the directional pad used to navigate between tiles; the left or right analogue sticks being used for moving the camera left, right, up or down; triangle to provide a hint for where a current matching pair of tiles are located on the layout; X to select a tile; square to re-shuffle the layout of the tiles and O to undo the previous pairing of tiles and to return them both back into the layout, while the L and R buttons are used to zoom in and out.
The audio is basic, although it didn’t really need much anyway. The soundtrack is limited, but the music is of a good quality and is appropriate to this type of game, so from that point it cannot really be criticised.
There are no difficulty levels to choose from, although you will naturally feel the game become harder to play as you progress through the extensive quest mode. If you enter the game never having played Mahjongg before, then there is a rather handy help menu located on the main menu which will certainly get you up to speed in how to play this wonderful game in no time at all. In earlier layouts you may be able to clear a level within two to five minutes, but the further you progress the more difficult it will become to find the matching pair of tiles, which always results in longer playtimes for later levels.
Mahjongg games will always have at least a certain level of replayability and Mahjongg Artifacts is no exception as it has a plethora of content from game modes to customisation options. You are able to replay any of the quest mode levels to vie for that higher score, which is recorded on a local hi-scores top eight menu as is the case for the endless mode. There is also an artifacts screen that displays all of the artifacts that you have unlocked as you have progressed through the quest mode, alongside your overall time, score and the amount of tiles that you have paired together. These kinds of features provide Mahjongg Artifacts with an entertaining pick up and play feel, whether you usually play PS Minis or not.
Overall, Mahjongg Artifacts delivers everything that you would expect from an entertaining Mahjongg game. The only criticism that I can give Mahjongg Artifacts is that it lacks the touch screen play of the iPod version, although this is a PS Mini version, so it is somewhat to be expected, but a Vita specific version of the game with touch screen play, worldwide leaderboards and a full trophy list would elevate the game considerably further. However, they are minor criticisms and if anything, only citing what could be done with the PS Mini to take it another step up and as a PS Mini priced at only £3.99, this is a highly recommended purchase, especially if you are a fan of puzzle games as it is guaranteed to last you a long time. I just wish that G5 Entertainment would make the sequel that is also available as a PS Mini compatible with the Vita too, as it is already compatible with the PS3 and PSP.
At A Glance
- Title: Mahjongg Artifacts
- Publisher: G5 Entertainment
- System: PSP Mini
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 36Mb