Every week Cyril Lachel comes down from his giant castle in the hills to provide the final word on all of the classic downloadable games and retro compilations. This is the Retro Round-Up, your official guide to the best (and worst) in classic gaming for the Nintendo Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Join us as we shed some light on what games are worth your five or ten dollars, and what games you should avoid at all costs. For more information about these games (and retro gaming in general) we invite you to check out Defunct Games
This week we're looking at only one game ... one really boring game. That game is Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye, an extremely deep and detailed 16-bit Mahjong simulator. What, not excited by a hardcore Mahjong game? Well, neither was I. It's weeks like this that I wished Nintendo would go back to uploading two games a week. The good news is that it's time for another episode of the Retro Round-Up; unfortunately the bad news is that we spend the whole time talking about Mahjong!
Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye (Activision/Genesis/$8)
What Is It?
I'm of two minds when it comes to Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye. On one hand, I can't believe it's taken Nintendo four years to upload a Mahjong game to their Wii. However, I also can't believe that they gave us this somewhat obscure 16-bit Genesis version for eight dollars. EIGHT DOLLARS? I ... must ... contain ... my ... rage. So this is Shanghai II, a mostly traditional retelling of the popular tile-based game. The object here is to pair similar tiles and remove them from the board. If you are able to clear the table then you'll beat the game and get a short congratulation animation. If you somehow fail to clear the board, then you will need to try again. The nice thing about this version of the game is that you have multiple backgrounds and tile types. Beyond the traditional tiles, you will need to pair world flags (some of which are woefully out of date), the alphabet, fantasy characters, sports equipment, prehistoric creatures and so on so forth. The game also gives you a number of board types and different ways to play, including both a tournament and a brand new variation on the game called; you guessed it, Dragon's Eye. I was impressed with how many different modes and features I found in the game, but not enough to make me fully recommend this overpriced Genesis game.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The very first thing you will notice about this version of Mahjong (well before you discover all of the cool game modes and tile types), is how terrible it is to use a D-Pad as your cursor. Worse yet, the whole thing is so slow that even when you get used to using the D-Pad it still doesn't feel right. You can speed the action up a little by turning off animations and other flair, but I would rather play this type of game with a mouse ... or maybe even a motion-controlled remote that kind of looks like a high-tech pointer. Where would I find one of those?
Is It Worth the Money?
This is a tough call for me. While this is a fantastic retelling of Mahjong, I've never been a huge fan of the game and find the game's sluggish feel to be a bit of a turn off. I also can't justify the price tag, which is exactly $8 more expensive than playing a recreation of this game online for free (legally). Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if most people reading this on their PCs already have the version of Mahjong that comes with Windows. Not a Windows user? Then try one of the multiple freeware versions made in Flash. If you absolutely must own a Mahjong game on your Wii, then this is the one to get. I can see myself recommending this product if it didn't cost $8.
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