Mahjong Deluxe 3 is a traditional Chinese puzzle game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. I have played Mahjong games since the retro days of the Amiga and 3DO all the way through to the multitude of Mahjong games that have most recently arrived on the Vita, so I was naturally very happy to see Mahjong’s presence expanding on PS4. Can Mahjong Deluxe 3 deliver a new twist on the Mahjong experience set by the games that have went before it?
Mahjong Deluxe 3 features 640 levels comprising of 480 2D puzzles and 160 3D puzzles over the course of eight worlds. Each of the eight worlds represents a separate puzzle category containing 80 puzzles per category including beginner puzzles from 18 to 70 tiles; easy puzzles from 70 to 135 tiles; intermediate puzzles from 140 to 145 tiles; challenging puzzles from 140 to 145 tiles; difficult puzzles from 150 to 240 tiles; super-sized puzzles from 240 to 350 tiles; 3D bonanza; and 3D extravagance. There are no alternative tile sets to choose from before or during a 2D or 3D Mahjong puzzle with the tiles for each puzzle including traditional Mahjong tiles such as bamboo, circles and dragons, although every Mahjong puzzle has random tile layouts for every occasion the player participates in any level.
Mahjong Deluxe 3 has the same traditional core premise for 2D Mahjong puzzles as all Mahjong games as the player attempts to pair matching tiles together, although the player must pair together every tile instead of only pairing matching tiles together until the gold tiles are all paired together as is the case in some other Mahjong games. The real puzzle element of the 2D gameplay is provided by the traditional rule of only being able to pair matching tiles from the outer edge of any group of tiles. The player’s score gradually increases with every tile pairing, while a faster tile pairing rewards the player with more points as showcased by the ever reducing quantity of points for the next tile pairing situated on the top right of the screen. The speed of the player’s tile matching is essential to the star rating as earning one, two or three stars are based upon high scores per level.
However, 3D Mahjong puzzles are rather unique in their approach as they allow the player to rotate the puzzle in order to find matching tile pairs, while the rules of 3D puzzles are completely different from their 2D counterparts. The major difference involves every tile being able to be selected even when the tile is situated in the middle of a row of tiles and can be highlighted for selection from any angle of the puzzle, while it can be paired with any matching tile from any position within the 3D Mahjong puzzle.
Despite there being at least a handful of Mahjong games on Vita; it would have been really nice to see Mahjong Deluxe 3 added to the genre on Vita, although it looks as though it will not be receiving a Vita native port, but at least remote play is a consolation. Mahjong Deluxe 3’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance is the same quality as the PS4 version, while no remote play control optimisation was required in comparison to the DualShock 4 controls; resulting in a very comfortable and entertaining remote play experience throughout every 2D and 3D Mahjong puzzle.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller as they are easy to learn. The control scheme consists of changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move the cursor in order to have a tile highlighted for selection; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to rotate a 3D puzzle; pressing X to select a tile; pressing X to highlight a different tile to cancel the previous selection; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. There is no touch pad implementation, although Mahjong games naturally combine perfectly with a touch screen as showcased throughout multiple Mahjong games on Vita. Tapping the touch pad could have provided an alternative for selecting and cancelling the selection of a tile as well as swiping in any direction subtly or longer and wider swipes to move your cursor along a smaller or much larger amount of space in order to highlight a tile for selection. There is no light bar implementation that when attempting to pair tiles together could have produced a neutral colour of yellow that represents Earth and heroism in China, a light tone of green when successfully matching a pair of tiles or red when a pair of tiles do not match, while there is also no vibration, although that can be forgiven as the pressure of vibration would not be in conjunction with the relaxation of Mahjong.
Graphically, Mahjong provides everything that you would anticipate to see from a Mahjong game with colourful and detailed tile sets, alongside amazing rotatable 3D Mahjong puzzles, while the picturesque backgrounds depict temples, forests and castles in a cel-shaded esque quality.
Mahjong Deluxe 3’s presentation is exceptional with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, level selection menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick, directional pad or touch pad. Menu backgrounds are very colourful and vibrant as they focus on the time of day or season within the backdrop of each set of puzzles.
The audio consists of the style of music that you would anticipate a Mahjong game to contain as it has a relaxing quality that ties in with the graphics to provide an authentic Mahjong experience. There are also sound effects for manoeuvring around the tiles, choosing the first tile and the second tile to pair it with, successfully matching a pair of tiles together and cancelling the use of a tile by selecting a different type of tile. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced specific sound effects such as when a pair of tiles is successfully paired together or the relaxing music.
The trophy list includes 14 trophies with 7 bronze trophies and 7silver trophies. Easier trophies include the Zhengzhou Wow bronze trophy for attempting to choose 10 tiles that are not available to be highlighted from within the middle of any row in a single 2D Mahjong puzzle; the Bamboo Flush bronze trophy for matching bamboo pairs in order up to 9; and the Circle Flush bronze trophy for matching circle pairs in order up to 9. Harder trophies include a bronze trophy and 7 silver trophies for earning three stars in every level of each respective set of 80 levels for a total of 640 near perfect performances, while matching four consecutive pairs of green, red and black dragons is also rather hard due to the random tile layouts when restarting a puzzle in 2D or 3D Mahjong puzzles. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 20 to 25 hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are half a dozen difficulty levels for 2D Mahjong puzzles with one difficulty level representing each set of gradually increasing difficulty within each world. Difficulty levels for 2D Mahjong puzzles include beginner, easy, intermediate, challenging, difficult and super-sized, while 3D bonanza and 3D extravagance naturally increase in their complexity by expanding the quantity of tiles within 3D Mahjong puzzles.
There are no local or online multiplayer modes that is a bit disappointing as it would have added another competitive edge to the gameplay such as a local and online battle system in which you and your opponent are attempting to complete the level first and the ability for one player to make it more difficult for their opponent by going on a run of 10 rapid consecutive tile matches; sending more tiles over to your opponents’ screen in the process. You could even perhaps bet some of your points tally earned from the single player or the previous round of multiplayer with customisation in the form of how many consecutive rounds you prefer to play, specific objectives and how many points you want to bet on the outcome. Meanwhile, there are no local or online leaderboards, although there could have been a leaderboard for each player’s highest quantity of points and fastest time for completing each individual level, alongside the total accumulation of points and time for each entire puzzle category for local players and online leaderboards including every player globally.
Mahjong Deluxe 3 builds even further than any previous Mahjong game upon the Mahjong tradition of noticeable replay value. Mahjong Deluxe 3’s replayability is extremely impressive as it includes eight worlds featuring 480 2D puzzles and 160 3D puzzles for a total of 640 levels, alongside further reasons to return to play every level including three star ratings for each level defined by how quickly the player pairs tiles together and random tile layouts when revisiting a previously completed level; resulting in dozens of hours of replay value.
• Title: Mahjong Deluxe 3
• Developer: EnsenaSoft
• Publisher: EnsenaSoft
• System: PS4
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1
• Hard Drive Space Required: 75MB