So, a (mostly) fully functional online game for the Saki contingent. About time?
Via Dave, I found myself spending a big chunk of my weekend playing mahjong. It helped me learn better all the annoying but critically important little details about riichi mahjong. It also reminded me how fast taiwanese style play is, working against its potential for being the most newbie friendly. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn Singapore rules.
In a nutshell, Pairon (or Mahjong Hime as it is localized) is a scrubby free-to-play microtransaction game. Your money goes into buying usable items and customizing avatars–each avatar is made up of a character card and a voice card. The voice cards, well, are voiced by various brand-name voice actresses, who voices different in-game avatars. For example, every player starts out with “Boniboni” which is voiced by Itou Shizuka. The character cards are cards that gains experience and unlock special moves and CG and what not. As you play each game, you have the option to disable special moves, so there’s that.
I haven’t earned enough in-game coins to change the cards, so I don’t know for sure, but it seems you can just switch out the voice card even if you don’t have a matching character card. If that’s not true let me know.
The games are set up in a usual “enter lobby, enter table” sort of way. The table host can configure the risk-reward level, use special items to allow players to get more in-game currency for winning, and the type of rules (Japanese/riichi, Taiwanese, or Singapore). There are also AI players that can fill out a game if you can’t get 4 people (or if you just want to play solo).
The site that is running this game feels a little bit shady mainly because it seems like an Asian site that is now branching over with some English content, except it’s all very under construction-like. None of the payment options seemed familiar except paypal, which somehow doesn’t work when I clicked on it, giving me some error saying I’ve not been whitelisted. There’s also a persistent log-in bug which makes you re-log-in if you closed the client and want to go back into the game from the launch page.
I haven’t really tried playing with other people, except one time some random guy just joined my game. I’m not sure if he knows how to play but it ended okay? I’m not sure if he just disconnected his client or what. Dave has reported problems and I can see how it could happen.
I personally found reading the rules page on the eligible hands a big help. It’s pretty precise. There are a bunch of minor glitches that you’ll get used to, and once you know how everything works, it’s a pretty smooth experience. Little things like “don’t run it behind tabs” or “don’t click on your tiles by accident” go a long way.
Well, it’s open beta, so I’m not too worried. A look in their forum seems to say that there’s a very dedicated if very small user base. I can see how this game can be kind of fun as a single player experience, but it’s got no scene right now. If you want to play with others, it would be something you have to arrange on your own. If you see “omo” out there, feel free to give me a shoutout…if I’m there and paying attention, I’ll do something?