Mahjong Cub3d Review (3DS)
Puzzle games have always been a comfort game for me. Any time I’m stuck on a larger than life console RPG or burned out on too many multiplayer sessions of the next “big” first-person shooter, I like to take out my handheld of choice and throw a puzzle game on. For the most part, Tetris has been my one true love, but lately, newer looks into more traditional-type puzzle games have gained my attention. Mahjong Cub3d is exactly that. It is a new look into a game that has been popular in China since the 19th century. Recently released for the Nintendo 3DS, Mahjong Cub3d definitely brings the old school title into present day.
The next iteration of Mahjong offers over 200 levels if you count all the modes and the difficulty within each board. It also offers three modes--Cube mode, VS Mode and Classic mode. Cube Mode is the main mode with the most levels. Players will have the option of playing the alpha, beta or gamma puzzles. Essentially, this is just a fancy way of saying the puzzle’s difficulty level. Alpha, beta and gamma are easy, medium and hard, respectively. To confuse you even more, within alpha, beta, and gamma, there is also another option for difficulty that players can select on each individual board. With each level, the board or cube will change into a completely different shape than the previous level. As the difficulty level increases, the number of tiles increase, and the boards get a lot harder.
VS mode is the same thing as Cube mode with the exception of one thing: an actual player on the other side matching your wits. Unfortunately, you can only play online with one other player. Obviously, this limits how much you can really do online; offering more in the multi-player area would have been nice. Also thrown into the mix is the classic mode, which is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of new, futuristic 3D cubes, it harkens back to a simpler time of flat tiles and lots of them.
Moving on, Mahjong Cub3d is basically the same Mahjong Solitaire that we’ve been playing on our computers and video game consoles for many years now with the exception of one tiny thing: 3D. Using stereoscopic 3D, the classic Mahjong is taken into a completely new world. Instead of being flat, each tile is now placed on a four-sided cube. Using your circle pad and the L or R buttons, you will rotate the massive shape to match cubes on the board, making them disappear until you are left with no tiles at all. As you do this, you will have a limited number of moves and a limited amount of time, presenting even more challenge to the title.
Fortunately, the game also has a couple of help features to help players if they start to struggle on a particular puzzle. There is an undo button that lets the player undo his last move. Although players only get a specific number of undoes, it is nice to have that there just in case. In addition to the undo button, there is also a hint button; when it's pushed, you can see the next best move available.
The stereoscopic 3D brings Mahjong into the modern day. The graphics are beautiful; its simplistic form will capture the player immediately with its well-designed menus and look into a new 3D version of Mahjong. Finding matching tiles is even more fun than Mahjong titles of the past because the environment, as simple as it is, is able to immerse you into a puzzle world like never before.
Simply put, Mahjong Cub3d is strictly a variation of a traditional puzzle game. Its combination of simplicity and difficulty makes it an enjoyable experience. Regrettably, with the reinvention of the classic puzzler, a few things went wrong.
The controls for Mahjong Cub3d, although not horrendous, are still a little inconvenient to use. There are no touch controls at all, and It will only take a matter of minutes to figure out that a stronger control scheme could have helped this game indefinitely. Holding the R or L button while using the thumb stick to move the cube feels extremely awkward. Not only that, but you are constantly having to move the cube around to find tiles. Doing this combination all the time is a hassle and could have easily been prevented.
The lack of content is also saddening. The only things available are Cube Mode, VS mode and Classic Mode. To Mahjong Cub3d’s defense, there are lots of levels between all the modes. However, there are a lot of different modes that could have been added to make this game even better. Sure, having 200 puzzles is nice, but regurgitating a harder difficulty on the same level doesn't really consistute as a level all on its own.
Overall, what makes Mahjong Cub3d good is its simplicity. It isn’t hard to pick up, it is challenging, and visually, it looks pretty good. It's fun and its simple gameplay offers a new and welcomed puzzle presence on the 3DS. Although it would have been great to have more content and an easier control scheme, Mahjong Cub3d is still a must-have if you are a puzzle fan.