Note: This is another article I started, nearly finished, but never did. I wrote this draft exactly one year ago on July 17th, 2019. After I completed the game and wrote most of the review there was an update that added additional game modes that, without being fluent, I wasn’t able to really understand that well, which is where the pause on the article came in. I think one of them was a series of challenges where you had to complete some specified task with a given hand, but I couldn’t tell what the goals were. After reaching the top of the single player mode I found little motivation to keep playing, which is a shame, because it’s honestly a pretty decent game. If I still have screenshots on my Switch I’ll dump those here later; otherwise there’s a link to screenshots of the Lite version in the next paragraph.
A little while ago I wrote this review on The 麻雀 Lite, which is essentially a paid demo for the full game. For 200円 you get unlimited access to freeplay mode, the lowest tier of M1 League, and supposedly you get online play, though I was not able to test this. The full game costs 2,000円, and an “upgrade kit” for owners of The Mahjong Lite is available for 1,800円. This makes the game feature-complete with the full version, though everything inside the Switch still refers to it as The Mahjong Lite.
Online play was my first stop. At first I wasn’t able to find any matches at all; it was a ghost town. After thinking about it for a minute, I added my Japanese account (the one I used to buy the game from the eShop) to my Switch Online family plan and was instantly dropped into a lobby. The games were reasonably paced and played similarly to the offline matches. I’m usually able to find at least one opponent, but a full four-player game has been rare for me, but this is likely just due to differences in time zones.
There are four options from the online play menu: Normal, Beginner, Private, and Rankings. You start with 1,000 NMpt which determines your rank. If you’ve played Mario Kart 8 online you’ll be familiar with this kind of ranking system. After the match is over, points are given or taken away based on your performance. Normal matches cost 75 NMpt to enter, and beginner matches cost 45. After about four online matches, my total was something like 1300, compared to the 183,000 of へへへたこ, who is ranked in the top three of all players and was in two of my four matches. All the matches were tonpuusen1East-only games, and there are no options to change any of the game rules (though I bet this is available in private lobbies). I haven’t played beginner or private matches.
M1 League has been pretty interesting so far. Basically, the way it works is you start each league rank in 40th place and move up to 1st place in order to move on to the next rank. Just like in online play, each match costs some number of Mpts, and points are rewarded or removed depending on your final placement (sound familiar?). What caught me by surprise is that, until reaching B1 rank, all the league matches were tonpuusen. At first I was annoyed at this, but then I realized how much time it was saving me as I plowed through the lower ranks. However, after graduating from B1 to A3 rank, the games were back to tonpuusen. Until this point hands were untimed, but starting at A2 there’s a 30 second timer that’s triggered every draw. There is also a 2 han bonus applied to most winning hands, which makes any wins from the AI players potentially lethal. After making it to the top of M1, the game unlocks a new, secret tier: G1. From what I remember there’s nothing particularly special about G1, and getting to the top doesn’t do anything.
After the game is finished, a series of bonuses and penalties are assigned. First, if a player dropped into negative points, they will pay a 10,000 point penalty to the player that knocked them out. Next, any players who finished the game yakitori2failed to win a hand split a 30,000 point penalty, which is paid to the rest of the players. After that, a 30,000/10,000/-10,000/-30,000 point uma 3Placement bonus/penalty is applied. Last, the winner is awarded a 20,000 point oka4Winner bonus. I had never heard of this before, but it works like this: Players start the game with 30,000 points, but also pays a 5,000 point ante before the match starts, bringing their starting total down to 25,000. The winner received this 20,000 point pot, which is the ‘oka’.
Once all of this is over the rank points are finally calculated and assigned. I’ve spent several hours building spreadsheets and trying to figure out how Mpts are calculated, but I was completely unsuccessful.
Some time between upgrading the game and now, two additional options were added to the main menu: Challenge and “Support Play”.