I had my first hands-on experience with mahjong a few months ago with Shanghai on the Sega Master System. Having enjoyed it, I scoured my collection for another mahjong game and came across Mahjong Cub3d for the Nintendo 3DS. Developed by Sunsoft and published in the United States by Atlus on October 11, 2011, it’s a Picross 3D styled adaptation of solitaire mahjong. I enjoyed clearing 3D mahjong piles despite a perplexing lack of touch screen controls. When I wanted something more traditional I attempted to solve deviously difficult standard mahjong puzzles. Now that I’ve played this a while, I believe my hunger for mahjong has been filled.
Even though I haven’t played enough mahjong to say I’m burned out on it, solving 3D puzzles was a refreshing take on a classic. Stacks of tiles were cleared according to the standard rules of mahjong. That is, by removing pairs of matching tiles from the side or by lifting them up until none were left. Anything less was a draw. Because the touch screen wasn’t utilized, all navigation was done with the circle pad. Moving my cursor across uneven arrangements made it annoyingly difficult to select specific tiles. I’m confused why the touch screen wasn’t incorporated as it would’ve made for seamless navigation and rotation of the puzzles, as it does in Picross 3D.
In addition to 3D puzzles, and a multiplayer mode that I didn’t play, a handful of traditional mahjong puzzles were also included. These were laid out and solved in a way familiar to Shanghai. Locating free tiles was somewhat challenging due to the perspective, occasionally resulting in me hunting for one tile I overlooked. Now, I don’t know if I had terrible luck or if I’m honestly bad at mahjong but it took me dozens of attempts to clear a single puzzle. This was not fun. It was frustrating on another level because these were really what I was after: plain old solitaire mahjong. I eventually solved one and called that good.
For me, Mahjong Cub3d was a mixed bag. Adapting solitaire mahjong into 3D puzzles was impressive and most importantly they were fun to solve. But, doing so meant contending with annoying controls and the puzzling lack of touch screen implementation. Unfortunately, the main reason I came to the game, the traditional mahjong puzzles, were off-puttingly difficult. Although I wound up solving one, I don’t think I’ll attempt another in the game. While I enjoyed the 3D puzzles, for the time being, my appetite for mahjong has been satiated.