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[GAME MASTER]Shanghai Mahjong V

Mar 30,2006
This will be the last review in the Gamemaster section of the JoongAng Daily. The section will be replaced by a larger game section that will focus on more than reviews. While I rejoice that the subject of games has earned itself a more prominent spot on our paper (the new weekly game section will grace the top of the page), I am sorry Gamemaster has to go. I admit, however, that it was more than once that I disliked the person who created the section in the first place, especially when I was playing games late into the night ― my eyes drying up and my face looking more ghastly than the undead creatures I was battling on the screen.
It took a week for me to think of the “perfect” game to grace the finale. I wanted to choose something everyone could play.
Massive multiplayer online role-playing games have encouraged (or forced) players to be more interactive, but most game-lovers will probably agree with me that in the end, it all comes down to battling yourself. Thus, regardless of age or how advanced your computer is, solitaire games will remain a classic.
Mahjong is one of those games. Originally a Chinese board game, the game is very simple ― you are given a set of small wooden cubes that look like fat dominoes. On top of the cubes are numbers and pictures, which are mainly carved into a thin, flat tile of ivory (or plastic) that is glued on top of the rectangular wooden block.
There are many versions of Mahjong with differing rules, but of the several variations I played on the Web, I found the flash version of Shanghai Mahjong V the best. I’m giving it five stars; those who have read past Gamemasters know how stingy I am in my ratings and five stars for this simple yet addictive game shows how much I loved it.
Shanghai Mahjong V is one of the newest versions that is available from Korean game developers and can be played free on the Web.
Available on Hangame, which is run by the Internet portal company NHN, Shanghai Mahjong V has two versions: one is downloaded to your computer and the other is played on the Web using flash animation. They are slightly different, which is why I recommend the flash version.
Like traditional Mahjong, the object of the game in Shanghai Mahjong V is to eliminate all the tiles in pairs. There are several “items” you can use, such as shuffling the remaining blocks or using a knife to “carve out” a matching pair from the middle. Unlike other computer-based Mahjong games, however, you cannot buy additional items, which raises the difficulty and allows a more “fair” competition. Most game developers make money from selling items, so I thought this was a very nice gesture.
There are several dozen levels, which are far more difficult than any other online Mahjong. I also liked the fact that the pictures on the tiles were very classical, since most newer Mahjong games use modern pictures or cute cartoons to replace the traditional numbers, flowers, and Chinese characters that are used in original the Chinese Mahjong.
I warn you that this game will have you playing for a very long time ― weeks, months, perhaps even years. The good thing, however, is that once you finish a level (which is comprised of three games), your record is automatically saved and you don’t have to start all over again next time.


by Wohn Dong-hee


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