4 Nin Uchi Mahjong (Famicom, 1984)

 

PUBLISHED: Nintendo

DEVELOPED: Hudson Soft

RELEASE DATE: 11/02/1984 (JP)

 

4 Nin Uchi Mahjong (literally Four Player Strike Mahjong) is a moderate expansion of the original 1983 Mahjong. Instead of facing off against one silent computer opponent over a cup of tea and some Enya, you battle three chatty chain smokers (also computer opponents) who love aggressive dubstep.

 

Kuitan is one of the many Japanese mahjong rules we don’t fully comprehend.

 

As with other mahjong titles, the goal is to build four groups of tiles and a pair out of the numbered/honor tile groups presented. The groups can include three of the same tile (“trios”) or a sequence of three numbered tiles (2, 3, 4, etc), while the pair is just two of the same tile. Once you’ve assembled four groups and a pair, you can call “tsumo” and conceivably win the round.

 

At one point, a Nine Honor Draw happened and the game stopped. Alright then!

 

Alas, life is never that simple, and neither is mahjong. The likelihood of a player getting four groups and a pair in one hand is akin to winning at solitaire: completely possible and incredibly unlikely. If you get as close as you can to this goal – say three groups and a pair – and ride out the game until there are no tiles left, the computer will recognize your achievement and declare “Tenpai.” A “tenpai” or “ready hand” is when you only need one more tile to complete your hand. While this doesn’t qualify as a win per say, you’ll gain earnings instead of losing them.

 

I just need a four tile! Any four tile!

 

While you’re playing the game, your menu presents four options: Discard allows you to throw away whatever tile is selected; Riichi is a presumptive declaration that you only need one more tile to win; Kan allows you to set aside four of the same tile; and Tsumo, where you declare yourself the winner.

 

Tenpai, baby. It’s the only way to fly.

 

Sometimes another player offers you a tile they’re discarding, and more options appear when this happens. Shang, Pon, and Kan allow you to build groups with said discarded tile. Should you select one of these options, the tile group will be set aside from the rest of your tiles. Pass means you do not take the tile offered. Ron allows you to steal another player’s tile instead of the discarded one…? We’ll admit, we don’t understand this option.

 

Those smiley faces really make us feel better about our lack of skill.

 

4 Nin Uchi Mahjong is a perfectly playable version of mahjong that, sadly, you can only enjoy by yourself. Sure, three feisty computer opponents are better than Mahjong‘s one, and the game is the perfect introduction to basic richi mahjong. Still, proper two-player support would boost this tile shuffler’s longevity.

 

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