Mahjong (Famicom, 1983) – #0005






RELEASE DATE: 08/27/1983 (Famicom – JP)

ALSO ON: VS Arcade System (02/1984 – JP), Famicom Disk System (02/21/1986 – JP), Switch (Arcade Archives: Vs Mahjong – 02/21/2020 – WW)

FEATURED IN: Animal Forest + (GC – 12/14/2001 – JP)


The road to completing “Nintendo is Great” is fraught with mahjong and baseball titles, including but not limited to Mahjong and Baseball. The latter is coming up soon, but Mahjong is already here as the fifth tile- er, title in the Famicom lineup. It is what you might expect, simple two-player riichi mahjong between you and the computer.


The plot thickens.


Do you know how to play mahjong? Then Mahjong will likely be a slow-paced experience, especially if you’re used to playing online, or against two to three other people in real life. Don’t expect to modify rules or find any options here. You can’t even compete against a friend in the Famicom or Famicom Disk System versions (the Vs. Mahjong arcade and Switch port offers two player). You challenge the computer in easy, normal, and hard difficulty modes, and that’s it.


No win, no cry.


Do I know how to play mahjong? Sort of. I’ve learned the basics for the sake of reviewing SG-1000 mahjong titles, but not long after I learn, I forget. Perhaps it’s because I don’t play regularly, but that seems unlikely. I like the idea of mahjong, I rarely forget the rules of games I enjoy playing, and the core experience doesn’t seem that complex. For whatever reason, mahjong just never seems to stick.


Even though I can’t play very well, Mahjong still strikes me as a serviceable, if antiquated experience. Fine for 1983, unreasonably quaint for today.


1983: B, if you love mahjong

Today: C, even if you love mahjong.


Oh, the tiles you’ll set.

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