Mahjongg Investigations: Under Suspicion

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Mahjongg Investigations: Under Suspicion on Steam

MSRP: $9.99

Platforms: Windows

Release: 8/8/07

I’m always surprised when some low-budget casual game is resurrected after many years in obscurity. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a subset of people out there reminiscing about games like Mahjongg Investigations: Under Suspicion, pining away for the golden age of casual gaming and wishing they could play it again for the first time. For whatever reason, Retroism (a collaboration between Tommo, Inc. and NightDive Studios) chose Mahjonng Investigations: Under Suspicion, updated it to work on modern operating systems, and made it available through a number of digital distribution platforms.

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What they didn’t do was even attempt to pretty it up.  For me, this isn’t an issue.  Sure, it looks goofy if I run it fullscreen at 1920 X 1080 – I don’t think too many game developers were concerning themselves overly much with widescreen support 8 years ago.  I would have liked to see some more sizing options rather than just full screen or native res (which I believe is 800 X 600), but it’s certainly playable. For any sort of matching game, as long as the graphics aren’t actively hindering me, I’m fine, but the throwback might be jarring for some.

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Probably the most accurate description I’ve found of this game is that it combines tile matching with Guess Who.  As you search scenes for evidence, you’ll match a bunch of crime solving themed tiles, but there are a bunch of special tiles to match as well.  Fingerprints will give you information about the perpetrator(s) you’re trying to find, while magnifying glasses will give you additional information about the suspects.  You may also come across technology tiles, alibi tiles, and tiles that will let you know if there were accomplices you should be trying to track down.

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At any time, you can go into your case files, look over the clues you’ve obtained, and eliminate suspects from your suspect pool – for example, if you know the perpetrator you’re looking for is female, you can eliminate all male suspects. As you progress through the story mode, you’ll be introduced to different mini-games to aid in solving more complex crimes. If you completely clear a crime scene, you’re given a few extra minutes on the clock, so it’s usually worthwhile to finish clearing even if all the clue tiles have already been matched.

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One major difference from traditional mahjonng solitaire games is that instead of merely highlighting a tile when you click on it, that tile is placed into your evidence bag.  This enables you to do some things you can’t normally do, like match a tile with one that it had been blocking.  The evidence bag can only hold four tiles, however, so you want to make sure you know where you’re getting that match from before you place a tile in the bag.

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Full disclosure: I played this game when it was – sort of – new.  I likely picked it up on a CD in a little cardboard sleeve, but I played the hell out of it back then.  When I had the chance to pick it up for Steam for a couple of dollars on sale, I didn’t even hesitate, but even knowing how much I enjoyed it the first time, and how replayable it really is, I wouldn’t have spent $10 on it.  With so many fantastic indie titles now available for around that price point, I’m a little disappointed that more casual games haven’t adjusted their price points accordingly.

Mahjongg Investigations: Under Suspicion is currently on sale for $1.99 on Steam as part of this week’s deals. If the idea of matching tiles to collect clues appeals, at that price, this one is an easy recommend.

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