3D Real Mahjong
| 3D Real Mahjong

Although we tend to think of Free Cell as being the staple bundled computer game, mahjong solitaire (also known as The Turtle and Shanghai Mahjong, amongst many other names) has been played on computers and electronic devices for a lot longer.

No surprise, then, that we also associate the tile stacking, one-player version of ancient Chinese dominoes as being synonymous with video games, and an apparently unending stream of variations are readily available for whatever format you favour.

Qplaze's latest incarnation of the ancient game is at once a typical offering of Shanghai Mahjong, and also a new take on the established norm that opens the concept to extra scrutiny.

Although it'd be a prohibitively laborious task to set up, almost every form of solitaire mahjong could be played with actual Chinese dominoes, but 3D Real Mahjong ingratiates itself to the videogamer by ensuring this version is only accessible through electronic play. The concept is precisely what you want and expect from a mahjong game; the stack is built up of all 144 pieces, and the game constitutes the matching of 'exposed' pairs until the pile is fully eliminated (exposed pairs being pieces with at least one side not touching any other tiles).

The difference here is that the entire stack is free-floating, and can be flipped over as a whole. Naturally, the only way to do this with real mahjong pieces would be to glue them all together, but that'd hamper the gameplay significantly.

By rotating the entire stack, pieces can be selected that are essentially on the bottom of the pile, and a new dimension is added to the solitaire gameplay. One of the most frustrating aspects of mahjong is that even a well-played game is subject to random luck – there's no guaranteeing that an entire pile can be eliminated, since the four matching pieces could, at random, be blocking each other, making the game forfeit.

Being allowed to approach a locked pile from underneath means it's much less likely there'll be no way to continue, and a significant amount of skill returns to the game. In fact, an increased perceptive quality is now required, since pieces from the top of the pile can be matched to ones on the bottom – assuming the player can keep track of tiles they can no longer see.

3D Real Mahjong incorporates two game modes: Adventure and Puzzle. Truth be told, you'd be hard pressed to fathom the difference between them, but that's really a matter of little consequence. This is still Shanghai Mahjong through and through, and it's on that strength that any pocket gamer is going to buy this highly playable new take on a very old concept.

Mahjong solitaire is the pinnacle and epitome of casual gaming, and no game system catering to that demographic is truly complete without a good supply of variants. Now, thanks to Qplaze, the mobile format has an impressively solid and imaginative version to add to the ever increasing pile.

3D Real Mahjong

Perhaps better described as 'Mid-Air Mahjong' or 'Zero-G Solitaire', the extra dimension in 3D Real Mahjong adds a wealth of entertainment