Combine tiles, clear puzzles and unlock the grid in fantastic puzzler!
Sunsoft's absence from the game market can be felt every day. There are developers that take on their properties, but the company themselves stopped making video games altogether. This was true until the arrival of Mahjong Solitaire Refresh, which got me very pumped. As someone who loves a traditional puzzle game, I couldn't be more excited to introduce more Mahjong into my life. It helps that the competition, or lack thereof, hasn't been all too hot. This is enough reason for Sunsoft to hit it out of the park, which they managed to do quite easily.
If you're not well versed in the rules of Mahjong Solitaire, let me give you a quick rundown. You need to line up two of the same stones to make them disappear. The catch is that these stones can't be too obstructed. The stones should be able to touch if you were to draw a line between them. If too many stones sit in the way, you can't get the job done. The beauty is getting all the stones off the table without being stuck at any given moment. The game punishes this and will more often than not force you back to the beginning. Luckily, Refresh has built in tools to help you on your way if you don't know all the rules of this puzzle structure.
Mahjong Solitaire Refresh's stages are set up within a grid environment. You only have a handful of stages to choose from in the beginning, so you can choose the entry level that best suits you. As you clear stages, every stage surrounding the one you finished will open up for you to play. Outside of the relaxing stages, there are two more types that will push your brain to the limit. Timed Stages will force you to finish within a strict time limit, while Extreme Stages will offer very little room for error. Naturally, you can avoid these harsher stages if you so desire, but true completionists will get a kick out of them.
The fantastic thing about Refresh is that stages aren't a one-and-done sort of arrangement. If you decide to return to an older stage, you will find that the patterns will be completely different. In fact, you can hit a button before the stage to change them up on the fly. It instantly adds replay value, allowing you to return as many times as you like. Your journey through the grid isn't just filled with stages, however. At certain intervals, you will be able to snag new music and backgrounds for you to enjoy while playing. You can choose your favorites, make a playlist and remove the ones you simply don't like. That being said, Mahjong Solitaire Refresh does look a tiny bit plain, but only just ever so slightly.
The base game offers well over 250 stages, and these were a joy to play. It’s mostly due to various control options at hand, including snappy button click and touchscreen controls. Regardless of how you prefer Mahjong experience, Refresh gives you the freedom to set it up the way you think is fun. Everything from the controls to gameplay elements can be adjusted, which I can definitely appreciate. The only thing that could be better is the English descriptors. The language isn't bad, but it comes down more to the wording used. You can see that the developers tried to do everything in house.
Mahjong Solitaire Refresh marks a fantastic return for Sunsoft. Their puzzle games were always up on a pedestal, but this entry really brings one heck of a deal. With over 250 puzzles on offer, you will struggle to run out of stuff to do in this game. Add to that the fantastic controls and options available and you can be assured of a good time. While I wish the presentation was a tad sharper and the English a tiny bit better, the overall package really can't be disputed. If you're up for some classic puzzle action, Mahjong Solitaire Refresh is a safe bet.