Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye
Shanghai II Dragon's Eye is an absorbing game you will find yourself playing to relax, to unwind, and even to rev up. The game itself is utterly simple, yet amazingly challenging. Trying to remove tiles in the correct order so that you are not played into a corner can be simple or challenging, depending on the layout.
The layouts (Besides the Shanghai layout itself, and the Face, Fish and Gravity Defier layouts) are based on Oriental astrology. The manual gives sample characteristics for each sign, a list of people born in the year of that sign, and the years in the later part of the 20th century that bear that sign. I find that I am born under the year of the Sheep or Ram, for instance.
For those who get tired of the basic Mahjongg tiles, there are an incredibly variety of others to choose from, with Sports tiles, Hanafuda (Japanese-based) tiles and Flags of the world. Almost every tile in the game has a different sound that plays when the tile is removed from the board, from rushing wind, to growling dragons, to snippets of music and human voices.
Every tile layout has an associated bit of information with it that can be discovered by shift-clicking on it. One of the human face tiles in the Hanafuda set might tell you that the face depicted is used in Noh Drama and the makeup used to depict a Princess. The level of detail in this game is just incredible. Even the backs of tiles are different for every set, from Astroturf for the sports tiles to polished wood for the Hanafuda tiles.
For those wanting to find out what is depicted on the tile, there is a menu command that can tell you about the entire tile set at once.
The colors are crisp and clean, and an endless delight to look at. With every game you find out something new and exciting.
If you manage to win one of the normal tile set games, you receive a fortune cookie that delivers a fortune for you to a different song for each layout. In the Dragon's Eye games, you get a living, fire-breathing dragon to look at on your screen.
There is also a tournament setting that has you play four games of Dragon's Eye, alternating as Master and Slayer, with three games of different layouts each in between. If you accomplish the tile sets in Tournament mode, you will hear the animal-specific music and get a golden image of that animal on a game board. But, if you fail, that animal's plaque will remain blank.
I cannot recommend this game enough. You will soon find yourself playing it as an alternative to endless games of computer Solitaire. ~ Lisa Karen Savignano, All Game Guide
Excellent graphics, both on tiles and tile backs. Some animation occurs as certain tiles are removed. ~ Lisa Karen Savignano, All Game Guide
Music sounds like real music, not synthesizers, with oriental flavor. ~ Lisa Karen Savignano, All Game Guide
Mah-jongg may not be well known outside the Far East or city Chinatowns, but this game makes it fun and accessible for the average person. ~ Lisa Karen Savignano, All Game Guide
So addicting, you will find yourself playing again and again. Due to random mixing of tiles, every game is different. ~ Lisa Karen Savignano, All Game Guide
Excellent manual gives backgrounds on game and layouts. Astrological information included. ~ Lisa Karen Savignano, All Game Guide