Wolverine’s totally going to slap Spock with a tile.
GENRE: Table game
RELEASE DATE: 10/18/87 – (JP)
Did it really take Sega two years after the Mark III’s release to publish a mahjong game for the console? That’s an abnormally long wait for a Japanese system to receive a virtual rendition of their beloved table game. To give you an idea of how quickly mahjong games moved on the prior Sega console, Mahjong was part of the SG-1000’s 1983 launch line-up, and a follow up, Home Mahjong was released a mere year later in 1984 (the five people who owned the console were undoubtedly thrilled). Alas, the new Sega acolytes who converted with the Mark III had to endure terebi silence for three long years. Finally, Mahjong Sengoku Jidai was released in 1987, and the faithful had a game to call their own.
Two can play at this game…
And you bet your sweet bippy this is a Japanese-only game. Sengoku Jidai is straight Japanese or Riichi mahjong, which, from what I understand, is a lot like mahjong after a couple drinks. Compared to classical Japanese mahjong, it’s wild and uninhibited, with a lot of stealing tiles, gambling, and name-calling. Unfortunately, without having a good grasp on Chinese mahjong – the original mahjong – I can’t say I fully understand the rules. There’s a lot to learn within the traditional rules and even more when you start wandering into the variants, such as Riichi. I attempted to summarize the basics of mahjong in a paragraph in my Mahjong review (click on the link above, or better yet, peruse this wonderful FAQ). But condensing the rules within a few sentences didn’t do justice to the game’s subtleties, and as such, I’m leaving the explanation of Riichi mahjong to the professionals.
The Motley Mahjong Crew.
Not understanding the rules of Japanese mahjong means playing Mahjong Sengoku Jidai is quite the battle. Here’s what I can tell you. You have the option to battle against three computer opponents at once in a four-player match or one computer opponent at a time in a two-player match, or participate in a tournament. Also, you can choose from a wide variety of gambling addicts to play against – from nightclub floozies named Starla to bald motorcycle riders named Slash (actual names may differ).
Once I started dropping tiles, the proceedings felt like standard mahjong – until someone called a “riichi.” A riichi is called after the second-to-last tile in a person’s hand has been discarded, and is a way of saying, “Ha ha, I’m about to win.” The game then draws and discards tiles until the person gets the tile they need to win, which doesn’t seem fair at all, but perhaps I could have stopped it? Somehow? I really need to learn Japanese. There’s more to Mahjong Sengoku Jidai, but the latter was my brief experience with the game. An intrepid explorer named PublicDomain (very nice) wrote an entire FAQ on the game over at GameFAQs, so if you’re looking to get your hands dirty with tile grease, there’s a place to start.
What fascinates me the most about this game has nothing to do with mahjong, but with the developers. Mahjong Sengoku Jidai is the first Mark III/Master System game I’ve played thus far to be developed by a third party and not by Sega. Yes, Miracle Warriors was a port not originally developed by Sega, but Sengoku Jidai was directly developed by Sanritsu for the Mark III. What does this mean, exactly? Nothing, except perhaps that Sega didn’t feel like they could tackle another mahjong game without a little help. And I don’t blame them. Mahjong’s confusing, especially when you don’t know how to play.
IF I KNEW HOW TO PLAY MAHJONG: A+
BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PLAY MAHJONG: D
BUT HEY, MAHJONG SEEMS PRETTY COOL: B