Mini-Review of iOS Kiwame Professional Mahjong
Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:31 pm
Game: Pro Mahjong Kiwame or Kiwame Professional Mahjong (I've seen it both ways)
Platform: iOS (sized for iPod Touch or iPhone only - while it runs on the iPad, it will run in smaller mode or scaled 2x mode - not the native iPad resolution)
Price: Free for the Trial Version, Normally US$2.99 but price reduced to US$0.99 until March 2012 (as of late September 2012 it was still 0.99)
Kiwame is a long running series of games from Japanese developer Athena. My first Kiwame game was Kiwame-S for the Sega Saturn but I also own Kiwame-D for the Dreamcast and Kiwame-Plus for the PSX. No fewer than 7 versions of Kiwame have been released. To my knowledge, the latest is the iOS offering from 2010 simply called Kiwame Professional Mahjong.
The free version of the game allows you to play all you want but with the following restrictions: East-Only (Tonpuusen) matches and doesn't allow you to configure the ruleset. The rules are mostly your typical Riichi mahjong with the one major exception that they disable Akadora (Red 5s) probably knowing that you would pay US$0.99 to get them back I found the price quite reasonable and after months of playing the free version, decided to upgrade.
Let's take a look at the game briefly...
The game runs really fast even on my older 2nd Generation iTouch device. Some Mahjong programs have been slow to load or don't run without crashing. I've had no problems at all with Kiwame on my older iOS device. I also installed it on my iPad where it runs, obviously, just as fast (but not in native iPad resolution... they don't have an iPad native version currently). The main menu lets you choose between a sort of face-off mode with the various characters in the game and a free-play mode (the one I usually play - the large icon to the right) where you can select the ruleset and play against any of the unlocked characters.
In the face-off mode, you get to select one of the characters to go up against - it is still a 4p game but your goal (I think) is to knock that person off.
The game has a good amount of built in help with the rules of Mahjong. A nice touch is showcasing all of the various Yaku scoring-element hands that can be used in the game with illustrations.
There is the usual game configuration where you can change the table color or tile sets... as well as configure the sound effects and BGM. A nice touch here is that you can configure what your voice sounds like (4 choices at the bottom) when calling PON/CHI/RON/TSUMO, etc. The voices in the game are really well done - not too many of the iOS games I tried gave you a voice option.
The game tracks a huge pile of statistics which you can review. What hands you called. How many times you opened your hand. Counts of all of the various Yaku you have achieved, etc.
There are nearly three pages (using a slider bar so there is some overlap in the images above) of options you can configure. You can save your options to one of three slots so different rulesets can be brought in very easily. The last ruleset you used seems to be the default until you change it. I've enabled the Akadora (1/2/1) to my preferred setting. I also went with an East-Only match. However, the images above show what the defaults for the program are.
In the free-play mode, you can choose any of the unlocked characters or let the game pick them randomly for you. Each character has a different voice and some very minor animations/facial expressions when they win or lose.
Ah! The main game screen. Tiles are big, bright and easily distinguished. The game runs in landscape mode only which is very comfortable for viewing. Tiles require a double tap (one to lift it, one to toss it) for discarding so you don't make mistakes (even with my big fingers). The music is a little repetitive but you can turn it down or off and the sound effects are quite good. Voices are great when calling for tiles, etc.
The scoring breakdown is as usual... but no incantations on the various scoring elements (booo!). But quite functional.
And finally the settling of points. When the points transfer, the winners smile or look happy and the losers pose slumps a bit to show dejection. Nice touch
This is a solid Mahjong game for the iOS. Great for offline play while waiting for your cat to be seen by the vet (as I did this week) or riding the bus. If you close the app and re-launch it, it picks up right where it left off so it's perfect for jump-in-jump-out play. This is my current favorite iTouch/iPhone iOS mahjong game (Janryumon Mobile is my favorite for the iPad).
If these mini-reviews are something you would like to see continued, let me know!