Maqiupai Review

Developer: SDK Publisher: The Goat Store
Release Date: January 19, 2005 Also On: None

It’s no wonder why the Dreamcast is the favorite system of hardcore gamers. With its dedicated fanbase, games have been released since the console’s demise in early 2001 when Sega stopped production. Luckily for all of us, independent developers and publishers kept releasing games. The Goat Store released Maqiupai back in 2004 on the Dreamcast as a growing addition to the independently published Dreamcast lineup.

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Maqiupai is based on the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong. Mahjong is a huge craze in Asia, including in Japan where countless games have been released across practically every platform. Maqiupai is the only American release of a Mahjong game on the Dreamcast that I know of, and being that it was released well after the system was officially “dead�, it’s of even greater importance to collectors and dedicated Dreamcast gamers.

If you’re not familiar with Mahjong, it’s a game of clearing tiles. You select tiles on the screen that are in various patterns in each round. Your goal is to clear all of the tiles by matching the corresponding tiles. Simply select identical tiles and they will disappear from the board. Of course it’s not that easy though; you can’t select tiles that are surrounded or below other tiles. Only tiles on the outside edges or above a set of tiles can be selected for removal.

The best thing you can do is remove tiles that are blocking the most moves. If tiles are stacked high, try to lower the pile down before you work on the edges of the pattern. You’ll need to think about the consequences that each tile match does. You might indefinitely lock a tile in by matching two tiles of a certain type while leaving the third blocking other tiles. It’s best to remove the matching pairs that leave open the most possible moves.

As far as game modes are concerned, there’s only single player where you go from one level to the next until you run out of moves or time. Yes, you do have a time limit that you’ll need to abide by, so be careful of the clock. Thankfully if you get in a sticky situation, there’s a “power tile� that allows you to remove a pair that is blocking you so that you can move on. Use this only when necessary, as it is your last resort between having no moves and continuing your quest to clear the board.

Challenge and Time Attack are the only two game modes. Challenge has you play the traditional game of Mahjong in a constrained period of time, going from one level to the next until you run out of time. Doing this will unlock boards for Time Attack, where you’ll try to get high scores. The cool thing about Time Attack is that you get a code for completing a high score on a board, which can be used on The Goat Store website to compare how you did with people from around the world.

Overall, Maqiupai is a fun, solid game that even older people could find themselves interested in. The concept is easy to learn and it’s not like you have to master controls or anything. It’s an easily accessible addition to the Dreamcast library that any fan of Mahjong or puzzle type games should look into. My biggest complaint is the graphics, since you can sometimes not see the tiles very well. As you can imagine, this can be frustrating as the time eats away and you’re squinting to see which tiles match. Also, if you hope to play with friends though, you’re going to be disappointed. This would have been an addicting game with multi-player, but without, it’s still a good game to play.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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