|I was really excited when I was given the opportunity to review 3D Elite Mah Jongg for ESCMag. I was hoping that it would be a good replacement for the Tai Pei game I once had for my computer but has since been lost. It was a simple game, no fancy bells and whistles, and it worked perfectly to help me while away many an hour that ought to be used studying or working. When I finally got to see the screen shots and specs of 3D Elite Mah Jongg, I got even more excited because it seemed as though this version of solitaire Mah Jongg would surpass any other that I had played. |
I loaded up the game and was immediately impressed by the quality of the graphics. The tiles are beautifully rendered, to the point where you can almost imagine picking them up off the computer screen. There are three different tile patterns to choose from: typical Chinese, which features flowers and symbols as some of the tile graphics; Roman-style, which features warrior helmets and gladiators as some of the tile graphics; and Egyptian-style, which features ankhs and hieroglyphics as some of the tile graphics.
There are 26 different tile boards to choose from, as well as a tile board editor, so you can create your own Mah Jongg game board. You can also post your newly designed board up on the Gameday Web site, and swap boards with your friends, so youíll never run out of Mah Jongg games to play.
To add to the richness of the game, the designers thoughtfully created four seasonal backgrounds for your playing enjoyment, corresponding with the four seasons. Each background has cute little touches like butterflies fluttering or flowers blooming to make you realize that this is no ordinary Mah Jongg game. Even the barely-better-than-MIDI music isnít that bad.
Unfortunately, there are two major problems that keep this game from reaching its full potential of a perfect 10, and both have to do with mouse movement.
Moving the mouse over the menu board was an exercise in frustration. The game didnít respond to single clicks, so I tried double-clicking the options. That didnít seem to work either. It seemed to take three or four clicks at a time for the game to register any choices, and this problem extended into gameplay itself. I would run the cursor over a tile and click once to highlight it, but sometimes if I moved the mouse away too quickly, it would lose the highlight and Iíd have to go back and click on it again. I tried changing the mouse settings off the menu screen, but that didnít do much besides make the cursor even more jumpy. This problem is most likely due to my painfully archaic computer (a little bit slower than the recommended speed to play the game) so I was willing to forgive it and was ready to give the game a higher rating. Until I discovered the second problem.
I was completely unable to move the mouse off the playing screen to open or close any other files. It felt as though I were back playing a DOS game, and that just plain sucks. The cursor would run itself to the end of the playing screen and just disappear. I thought it was my mouse, so I tried cleaning it, changing the mouse settings again, but no dice. I just couldnít get the damn thing to work outside the playing screen. I couldnít even use the mouse to open, close or minimize the playing window itself.
While this wouldnít seem like the biggest deal, itís important to remember that Mah Jongg isnít the most compelling game in the world. Most people are not going to boot up the computer just to play Mah Jongg every day. Itís a time-killing game like solitaire or Tetris that cube-dwellers and students use when waiting for a phone call, or when theyíre just pretending to be busy. To not be able to minimize the window or to switch to another program is a huge problem if youíre playing this at the office. Not like Iíve ever played games while at work, Iím just speculating, of course. How would you be able to hide this game when the boss came by? What if something important came up and you needed to check on another program? The only way to get out of the game is to either finish a Mah Jongg game, or to hit Ctrl-Alt-Del, which always scares me because Iím afraid that Iím going to shut down the whole computer. While writing this review, I had to get back into the game to check on something, and discovered that I couldnít even use any keyboard shortcuts to open or close another program, as the keyboard was rendered practically useless.
I hate to say it, but due to the nature of the game, this one problem effectively brought down what could have been a perfect computer Mah Jongg experience. Get this game if youíre interested in seeing the pretty graphics, but donít bother with it if youíre not going to use it as a "destination game."