By Brad Cook
Mahjong may be an old game, but you can still enjoy it with new technology. An Eastern theme greets you at the beginning of the iPod version, its elegant musical score accompanied by serene images of ancient China. A spinning yin-yang symbol indicates a new game, or a saved one, is loading, while a fearsome dragon a benevolent Chinese symbol guards the border of your Mahjong table.
Choose from 72 tile layouts spread across six themes: Horoscope, Crafts, Nature, Scenery, Martial Arts, and The Emperors. You may only attempt layouts in The Emperors once you have mastered all of the other themes. In single player mode, you can try any available layout without a time limit, while pass n play lets you do the same with up to three opponents, handing your iPod to the next player when its their turn. In pass n play, the goal is to see who can solve a layout the fastest.
Mahjong aficionados will want to tackle Emperors Challenge mode, which asks you to complete each layout within a specific time limit. When you complete all 12 layouts in a theme, you receive a gem. The gems from the first five themes are required to access The Emperors theme, where you receive your final prize.
Track Your Progress
Each layout you complete in the Emperors Challenge reveals a Chinese proverb thats saved in your Scroll of Wisdom, which you can access through the Highlights menu. The Scroll of Wisdom also displays the gems youve received and notes your rank, which starts at peasant and goes all the way to Emperor, once youve completed all 72 layouts.
If youre interrupted while playing, simply save your progress and quit the game. Mahjong also tracks a variety of statistics about your gameplay history, including the number of games played, the number of boards youve cleared, the percentage of tiles removed, and the number of layouts youve completed in the Emperors Challenge. You can also see which layout youve completed the fastest, and how long it took.
Of course, completing the Emperors Challenge is not about how quickly you can race through all 72 layouts. Remember the words of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Origin of a Classic
Mahjong on the iPod is actually a version of mahjong solitaire, which derived from the traditional Chinese game mahjong. Loosely translated from Chinese as clattering sparrow, mahjong is a four-player game that originated during the 19th century. How it came about is unknown, with theories ranging from Chinese army officers creating it to pass the time to a pair of brothers who supposedly based it on a card game.
Regardless of the circumstances of its birth, mahjong soon spread throughout the world, with many regional variations on the rules appearing. While traditional mahjong is similar to many card games, mahjong solitaire simply uses the existing tile set consisting of the families sticks, wheels, numbers, flowers, and seasons to introduce a matching game that can be played alone or with others.
Mahjong on the iPod is similar to the many electronic titles that have appeared since the first one was created in 1981. Other derivations, known by such names as Shanghai and Taipei, began to appear in the mid-to-late 1980s, leading to the popularity of the game on many computers and, later, videogame consoles. Visit the Solitaire MahJongg Web site to learn more about the game, as well as pick up a few tips and tricks.
iPod Games FAQ
Do you have questions regarding any of the iPod games available from the iTunes Store?
More iPod Games
- Mac OS X version 10.3.9 or Windows 2000
- iPod nano (3rd and 4th generation only), iPod classic, or iPod (5th generation only). Not playable on your computer, other iPod models, iPod touch or iPhone. Please check which iPod model you have.
- iTunes 7.5 or higher required to download (games cannot be played in iTunes)