I have never understood the thrill of solitaire mahjong, and sadly even after giving it my all in Mahjongg Artifacts 2 I still don’t get it. When playing a solitaire mahjong game you have to match tiles to hopefully end up with a clean board, and in the case of Mahjongg Artifacts 2 you end up matching two gold tiles. What I haven’t understood is the thrill aspect, I just match away and if I mess up I try again. I don’t see how my way of choosing which tiles to match will affect the outcome, where is the gameplay? That is my problem but I won’t let my mahjong shortcomings affect the final rating.
Mahjongg Artifacts 2 comes a lot of content and three game modes. Endless mode is as it says an endless mode that lets you space out and play for as long as you can manage before you run out of tiles to match. Classic mode comes with 99 set boards with various patterns to challenge you. The main mode is the quest mode that lets you travel the world in search of artefacts. While progressing in the quest mode you unlock backgrounds and tile sets. The story is told in images that you can zoom into to take a closer look. The different locations you travel feature different backgrounds and music giving you a deeper appreciation of your progression.
To flesh out the game of mahjong the developer G5 Entertainment has infused the game with different power ups. You also have some help by a hint and a undo feature as well as the feature to show locked tiles. Using help gives your score some beating but at times progression feels more important than high scores. Speaking of which, there are local high scores for endless mode and quest mode.
Mahjongg Artifacts 2 is a port of a popular PC game, and sadly the port is lacking in several aspects. For one there are some really ugly slowdowns throughout, but most prominent as a new board has been loaded. Buttons are also really small on the story and end game screens making them hard to hit. Worst of all are the view of the board and zoom function. When in ordinary zoomed out view it is really hard to see the tiles, and even harder to actually touch the correct ones. When you zoom in it all becomes too large and you have to pan around like crazy finding matching tiles. To me this makes the game really hard to play no matter how versed you are in the art of solitaire mahjong.
Mahjongg Artifacts 2 brings a lot of content with three modes. Still I feel that the story mode is just plastered onto the game, and it all boils down to one simple question: do you like solitaire mahjong? The technical shortcomings really bother me while playing no matter if I have gotten the mahjong concept or not.
If you can live with the strangely chosen view distances I think you might get a lot of value out of the dollar it is sold for at the moment.
Presentation and graphics
Mahjongg Artifacts 2 feature beautiful backgrounds and nicely drawn tiles. Animations and power up effects suffer from some slowdown, as well as when the board is loaded.
Menus look good but some of the menus come with too small buttons that are hard to touch, even worse when you have some sort of case for your iPhone.
The view distance makes the game hard to play, and zoomed in makes it a really annoying to pan around.
The story is being told in nicely drawn graphics that you can zoom into by touch.
Different ambient muzak depending on location and theme is nice for awhile. The sound effects are generally good even though they too suffer when there are slowdowns. You cannot play your own music, not even by the double home button trick.
The touch controls are quite responsive but as you in zoomed out view have so small tiles to touch you often miss. Zoomed in it is more or less unplayable.
The inclusion of power ups enhances the game somewhat. The tutorial is really good too. An autosave feature is missing, but according to the App Store page it will be included in the next update.
Mahjongg Artifacts 2 gives you a whole lot of mahjong to play. If you are into the game you will probably be able to play this for as long as you have an iPhone.
You unlock artefacts, tiles and backgrounds as you play the quest mode.
This port is not suited for the small screen of the iPhone in the reviewed version. (1.0) I can’t recommend it, as you will either get a headache from playing it zoomed out or ache in your fingers from panning around zoomed in.
Mahjongg Artifacts 2 $0.99 introductory sale