Friday, November 19, 2010

Clueless Gaijin Gaming: Super Real Mahjong Special

Why am I playing yet another PC Engine mahjong game?  Because, despite my better judgment, it's in my collection.  Moreover, this particular game is not very well documented on the Web.  So I want to capture some screenshots to submit to the excellent PC Engine Bible site for history's sake, and I might as well share a little about the game while I'm at it.

So, on to the basics.  Super Real Mahjong Special was published in 1992 by Naxat Soft and Seta for the PC Engine Super CD-ROM format.  The title screen is graphically simple, but features a very catchy J-Pop tune, complete with 1980's rhythmic police whistles and upbeat, high-pitched vocals:

Once we're past the title screen, where... some people... will have spent entirely too much time trying to find a cheat that will unlock the game's visual cheesecake scenes, we are introduced to the three available opponents, Shoko, Kasumi and Miki.  We are given each character's vital statistics, Japanese style, including blood type, height, weight, and BWH (bust, waist, hip) measurements; these are in cm, naturally, lest anyone think these cuties are freaks of nature:

Each character introduces herself in turn, with full voice acting but minimal lip-synch.  Then we enter our name and select an opponent -- I didn't find any great differences between them, at least in terms of general difficulty, but that may say more about my mahjong skills than the game's AI.

With introductions out of the way, we're off to face the tiles of fate:

The game is a standard mahjong contest at this point -- we draw a tile, then decide whether to keep it in the hope of building a proper hand, or toss it into the discard stack, where it will lie face-up, gleaming hideously with unfulfilled promise as we draw additional tiles that would have worked perfectly with that one, so carelessly discarded in the early going.  At least, that's usually my experience.  Each player starts with 10,000 points, and after each round, the winner gains points at the loser's expense.  Whoever reaches zero first is the, um, total loser.

If we somehow succeed in beating our opponent's points off, the manual leads us to believe we will be treated to some sort of cutesy swimsuit imagery.  But I only succeeded in getting defeated, time and time again, earning only a brief glimpse of Shoko's more mature look.  At least she seems sympathetically upset that our mahjong talents fail so completely to make themselves apparent -- either that, or she's stifling a rude giggle:

That's about all I can say about Super Real Mahjong Special.  It's fairly playable with no Japanese knowledge, but a little mahjong knowledge is required.  And while I'm now somewhat acquainted with the rules, I'm still not very good at keeping track of what I should be adding to or dropping from my hand-in-progress to build a suitable hand.

Still, that opening tune is pretty sweet.

The later Super Real Mahjong games for FMV-capable platforms are more popular, as the rewards are more animated and a bit more risque.  But there were several early titles in the series released for the PC Engine, and fans of the genre (are there any in the West, really?) may be able to find a copy of this one for purchase at this affiliate link.

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