Mighty-mighty Mahjong

Mahjong is a rediculously popular game. Actually, that is a tad of an understatement. Invented in China, Mahjong is a game that entwines skill, strategy and luck in a unique way. Akin to other games, like dominoes, Mahjong utilizes the use of titles which are combined in attempts to complete the player’s hand. Sound simple? It isn’t. Sound addictive? Oh, it is.

Mahjong was a cool pastime before the Internet was even invented. Come to think of it, Mahjong was a pretty cool game even before the car was invented. In fact, mahjong was so well-liked by the Chinese folks, and later the globe, that it managed to enjoy a lifespan that was longer than perhaps any other game in the history of the world. Chinese myth tells us that Mahjong was created by Confucius himself in, or round, 500 B.C. Now, whether or not this is accurate, is anybody’s guess. But it does lend a certain air of sophistication, to any game, to suggest that Confucius himself while away the hours playing it, in between bouts of delivering Chinese philosophy.

But watch out.. With the creation of the Internet, and much later the online video game, Mahjong has become more popular than even Confucius would have thought possible. The chance to play games, especially classic games, in the comfort of one’s own home has caused a immense resurgence in many older games. Games like Mahjong, thanks to the World Wide Web, are now reaching people, and age groups, that it never could in the past.

A moderately new mahjong game, released by Jenkatgames dot com, entitled Café Mahjongg, combines an exciting, new-age sophistication to the ancient puzzle game. Basically, the core elements of Mahjong are completely intact. It is just that now the game is intertwined with a pleasant coffee shop motif. The tile patterns are prearranged into amusing shapes that complement the coffee theme. As play goes along, the player will advance from level to level, revealing new boards, and new challenges.

Café Mahjongg manages to be successful in an area where very few of the recently re-imagined classic games can. Café Mahjongg allows players to feel the thrill and energy of a video game, while providing the essential elements of the classic game it represents. Mahjong may be popular, but never was really reaching a massive audience like it is now.

And while numerous other games like solitaire, dominos, and various classic card games have all made the leap to the online game market, none have done so as brilliantly as mahjong’s transformation into Café Mahjongg. Because, after all, a classic game is still a classic game. And the utmost achievement a game designer can hope for when re-creating these legendary games, would be the intelligence to not alter, or change any of the key elements that made the game such a classic to begin with. Jenkatgames has done a great job of not turning Confucius’ favorite pastime into “new Coke.”

Mahjong has managed to stick around for several centuries, and it will no doubt be around for several more. To those of you already been bitten by the Mahjong bug, this comes as old, old news. But to those of you unfamiliar with China’s greatest pastime I implore you to take some time today and play a game or two. It sure beats the tar out of whatever is on Television

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