MahJong Quest
| MahJong Quest

Bold adventurers have embarked on all manner of illustrious quests over the years. There was Odysseus, cursed to encounter perils aplenty in search of his home; Jason and his Argonauts seeking the magical golden fleece; the Arthurian Knights pursuing the holy grail of Christ; and Dorothy and pals looking for brains, heart, courage and a way back to Kansas.

Now I-play have added another epic journey to the canon, placing you in the role of the peasant Kwazi, who is tasked with reuniting the forces of Yin and Yang to overcome three dragons that are laying waste to his country and restore peace to the people. How? Through the power of mahjong!

In comparison to battling black knights, resisting sirens and dropping a house on evil witches, the prospect of matching pairs of patterned tiles might not seem like much of a challenge. However, we can assure you that MahJong Quest is no pushover.

Granted, the nature of your task is fundamentally simple in that you must match and remove patterned tiles en route to uncovering and uniting the mystical Yin and Yang. Indeed, it's hard to go far wrong in the initial levels, provided your pattern-recognition skills are in working order and you can grasp the basic premise of only being able to select tiles when you can see the whole face and one of the long edges is exposed.

As you continue on your journey though 30 formidable levels, the difficulty curve rises steadily. With ever more convoluted layouts and deeper stacks of tiles, increasingly taxing demands are made of your spatial thinking.

In tandem with a shrinking time limit, the expanding opportunities to pursue blind alleys soon means that your four lives soon don't seem as generous as they were when you started.

A slightly overly precise control system doesn't always help matters; the process of edging a pointer across the screen block-by-block guarantees precision in your selection, but it does slow you down. You can speed things up by holding the joypad in the direction you want to move the cursor, but this often leads to overcompensation, speeding you past your intended target.

Fortunately, while wizards, magical swords and general favours from the Gods are thin on the ground, you do have some assistance to call upon.

For starters, you can easily step back through any number of moves using the undo button. Further aid is on offer from special tiles like the magic wand (that mystically swaps symbols), dynamite (that blows other tiles away) and seasonal and flower tiles, which have multiple matches. And if you still find yourself getting stuck there's also a really good hints system on hand to suggest matches.

The latter point is subtly handled, but typical of the attention to detail that permeates the game, from the attractive backdrops and variation in the tiles themselves to the gentle oriental theme tune that adds to the atmosphere.

Actually, the presentation and story is, if anything, more impressive than that of its more celebrated cohort, Jewel Quest, to which this provides an equally worthy and diverting travelling companion.

MahJong Quest

An engaging and beautifully presented variation on the Mahjong theme that should provide a welcome diversion to any journey