Indie Quickie: Mahjong Deluxe 3

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What is it and who made it? The first title in EnsenaSoft’s Mahjong Deluxe casual puzzle game series to come to Steam.

What platforms is it on and how much does it cost? The Steam version is out now for $4.99. Both free and premium mobile versions are also available for Android and iOS devices. Find links to the different app store options at www.mahjongdeluxe3.com.

How much did we play? Finished 45 puzzles across different sizes and difficulties in approximately an hour and a half.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements, or other details you should know about? Nothing of concern to report in terms of bugs or performance issues. However, the game is missing all of the usual Steamworks features modern Steam users have come to expect, like achievements, trading cards, cloud saves, leaderboards, and so on. Hopefully with more experience on the platform EnsenaSoft can tailor its games to take full advantage of Steam in the future.

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Why should you play it?

    • Enter the Third Dimension: Though introduced in Mahjong Deluxe 2, this game has been my first experience playing Mahjong with three-dimensional layouts–and I like it! The rules aren’t as challenging since you aren’t dealing with tiles layered on top of and surrounding each other in 2D formations; you simply need to find matching tiles and click the pair to clear them. Even though the tile faces are all visible the puzzles sort of take on the feel of the classic Memory matching game in the way it helps to memorize where tiles are while panning the camera around a 3D formation to find their mates. Only the top side of tiles are printed, so as the camera is rotated the tile faces come in and out of view. It’s a fun alternative to the traditional method we’re all familiar with at this point.

    • Mahjong Be Nimble, Mahjong Be Quick: While you can play at your own pace for casual enjoyment, the game features a nifty scoring system to give another layer of challenge for experienced Mahjong players to master. A score counter immediately begins ticking down at the start of a puzzle, and for every tile match made points are earned equal to the number left on the timer, which then resets to the maximum value and begins counting down again to determine the score for the next match. At the end of the puzzle, your total score is tallied up and rated with one to three gold stars. This is a clever way to promote and reward snappy recognition skills. The only thing missing is a clear delineation between the score values required for each star. For replaying puzzles to earn all three stars, it would have been helpful to have a visual indication of the point tiers.

    • Enough Puzzles to Make Your Head Spin: If value is of any concern, let me set your mind–and wallet–at ease. This game is loaded with puzzles. 640 in total, presented in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and difficulties. All of them are available to play in any order from the outset as well–no having to accumulate stars or complete a certain number of puzzles in a preceding difficulty bracket to unlock more puzzles. Mahjong purists will also be relieved to know that the vast majority of the puzzles follow the traditional 2D format and rules; the split is 160 in 3D, 480 in 2D. Any way you slice it, that’s a lot of Mahjong! I only wish there was a greater variety of tilesets, as seeing the same tile face graphics used for every single puzzle does become visually stale after a while.

Parting Thoughts: As bloated as the Steam marketplace has become in recent years, there still aren’t many options when it comes to Mahjong. On quantity alone, Mahjong Deluxe 3 has to be the best bang for the buck currently available on the platform. The presentation could use more pep in its step for sure, but the solid core Mahjong mechanics along with the sheer volume of puzzles is a hard match to beat.

What is Indie Quickie? It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

Disclosure: A Steam code for Mahjong Deluxe 3 was provided to VGBlogger.com by the developer.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!