Mahjong 3D: Warriors of the Emperor actually has depth, for a puzzle game. You'll see a story unfold as you progress through the expansive Conquest mode, complete with its own storyline. In Conquest mode, you'll be moving across different regions, and taking them over by playing Mahjong. In case you weren't aware, Mahjong is a game where you have to match up matching tiles. For example, see those two tiles with the eight blue dots on in the screenshot? Match them up and they'll disappear forever, and you'll be one step closer to a complete level.
Of the Mahjong games you'll be playing in Conquest, there are three types. Build, Battle and Debate. In Build you have to get rid of all the tiles in an area, Battle is the same except there's a time limit. Debate's interesting though, as you'll actually be facing against someone else, a computer player who you have to get more points than to win. This is actually pretty tricky a lot of the time, as the COMs will speed up if you're winning.
Other features of Conquest mode include unlocking new allies by progressing through the game, which, just like the main character, can be levelled up by beating levels. Both of these features (levelling up and allies) will provide you with interesting power-ups to be used in the game if you ever get stuck. Power-ups include an undo feature, in case you mess up, and one which makes two matching tiles glow.
Aside from Conquest mode, there's the excellent Create mode. As the name suggests, here you'll be able to create your own complicated Mahjong levels, complete with scenery, backgrounds and every tile in the game. The level creator is a little confusing at first, but the controls are displayed at all times, so it shouldn't be too difficult for anyone to create a Mahjong level. Quickplay mode also speaks for itself; here you'll be able to enjoy classic and special Mahjong levels, some of which are unlocked by progressing through the story.
That's about it in terms of gameplay, and the only other things left to talk about are the details. Areas look especially stunning in 3D, and the music complements the design by giving the game a very oriental feel. The music is very good, the only flaw I can see with it is that it's not a perfect loop; the music does have an end but then immediately restarts again. Not a reason to dislike the game though.
My main concern with the title are the controls. You'll control a cursor on the top screen by moving the stylus on the bottom screen. Luckily for me, I have good hand-eye coordination, but it could be a little difficult for someone who doesn't. It's definitely a game that could be played without the top screen, and personally, I would have preferred it if it was. The only reason for using the top screen is the 3D, but that creates some very awkward controls at times. Oh, and if you're looking for something cheap, this isn't it; Mahjong 3D's £17.99 on the eShop.
So there you have it. That's Mahjong 3D: Warriors of the Emperor. It's definitely a Marmite kind of game; you'll either love it or hate it. If you love playing Mahjong, creating puzzles and interesting stories, you'll like Mahjong 3D. But stripped down to its core, Mahjong 3D is nothing but another Mahjong game. And if you don't like Mahjong, you won't like this, whether it has a story or not. + Daniel Godfrey
7/10 - This is a very good game with good gameplay, an interesting story and a level designer. But if you don't like Mahjong, don't buy this.
Review copy provided by TREVA Entertainment