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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Review: Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire (Nintendo Switch)


Review by Matt S.

I've been playing Mahjong Solitaire for almost as long as I've been playing video games. My very first console (the Game Boy) was a Christmas gift from my parents and it came with the pack-in Tetris, and in addition they gave me Super Mario Land and Shanghai, with the latter being a  Mahjong Solitaire title. To this day I still enjoy the tile-matching action, and when you throw in a whole lot of pin-up, as Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire does, then you're on to a real winner as far as I'm concerned.

The gameplay itself is standard Mahjong Solitaire stuff. There's a layout of Mahjong tiles, and you need to match up those that are "open" (i.e. aren't blocked by surrounding tiles or hidden underneath another tile stacked on top of it). With each match, the tiles are removed from the board, and the end goal is to remove them all. Pretty Girls Mahjong throws a fairly tight time limit into the mix, forcing you to think quickly, but also rewards confident, fast play, because by matching tiles in quick succession to one another, you can build up a "bonus" meter, which results in a better score at the end of the board, if you clear it completely.

Now, I've never been entirely sold on time limits for Mahjong Solitaire. The nature of the game is such that it's possible to snooker yourself by removing tiles in the wrong order, and if you do that so much as once, it's going to result in an incompletable board. What's more, you won't necessarily know that for a number of moves later, leading to a sense of wasted time. As a game, I think I prefer Mahjong Solitaire to be serene and reflective in pace (i.e, without time limits), and while I understand the additional value in giving players a leader board to move up, there were times where I was frustrating myself with being unable to clear boards, because I was being encouraged to react to tile matches I spot, rather than think about how to tackle the board in front of me. Timers work for Bejewelled and other match-3-likes. It's a little at odds with Mahjong Solitaire on a conceptual level.


With that being said, this game is a lot of fun to play, and that's for three significant reasons; firstly, those leaderboards are compelling, because your score is only registered after completing three separate rounds of Mahjong, so it's possible to finesse some very impressive scores indeed through sustained play. Secondly, the tiles themselves are beautifully rendered on the Switch and I really love the aesthetics of Mahjong. I have a set of my own and no one to play with, but I also don't care because I simply enjoy how Mahjong looks. This game nails that. Thirdly, and I'm impressed that I managed to get four paragraphs into the game before mentioning this, but the game's biggest asset is the girls. In every way.

Each girl stands off to the side of the screen, and is basically there to look pretty. When you're clearing the third board of the stage, she'll also start to transform out of her standard costume into something more fan servicey. Each girl has a number of these stages to play through, and for the first couple of stages the reward will be school uniforms and maid costumes and the like. By the time you're clearing the last stage, though, you're going to be looking at something more substantially fleshy. The girls don't exist in the game for any other reason other than pin-up fan service, and truth be told I can't remember any of their names (none of them have any semblance of a narrative or even personality to attach to a name anyway). They are well-drawn, however, and the costuming certainly becomes very daring, so it's certainly a reward to get to the end of a round for the first time each time. When you do complete a stage, as an added bonus, you can later view the character model and costume in all its glory in a gallery mode.

My only issue with the aesthetic is the obscene oppai of most of the characters. I know that hyperbolically exaggerated chest sizes are appealing to a lot of people, and it certainly doesn't offend me. It's just that I, personally, don't find it all that sexy. For me, sometimes less is more and subtle is more aesthetically pleasing and balanced. To be blunt, these girls make the Dead or Alive cast look flat-chested, and while I'm not going to mark the game down for it since it's purely an aesthetic preference and the bulk of people that do like fan service go gaga over this approach, what I wouldn't give for just some of these games to appeal to my preferences sometimes.


Back to the game itself, though. Like many of the other hyper-fanservicey arcade games that eastasiasoft is doing a brilliant job in bringing to our Switches, Pretty Girls Mahjong is a cut-price game with a lot to offer. Each girl offers between three and five different stages (each with three boards to clear), and the difficulty steadily escalates through the game. Each separate round has its own leaderboard too, and as I mentioned previously, because scores are tallied across three separate boards, the room for score variation is huge, making the leaderboards a worthwhile addition that you could spend a lot of time mastering. Finally, there's a chill little jazzy music soundtrack that suits the bright vibes of the game beautifully.

You've got to hand it to eastasiasoft for finding and bringing these fun little fanservicey games to the Switch. Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire brings the fan service in spades, but it also plays a really good game of Mahjong Solitaire, and while the Switch has plenty of Mahjong Solitare titles already, none of the others have the pin-up aesthetic going for them. For just a couple of dollars, you can't go wrong here.



- Matt S.
Editor-in-Chief
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb


Review: Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire (Nintendo Switch)
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