Tag Archives | game

Mastering Mahjong (麻將).

My wife, my parents-in-law and myself had a nice little Mahjong session just now. Real chinese Mahjong is played with 136 tiles which contain about 30 different characters, so that each one is about four times to be found in the game. Sounds a lot like Poker, doesn’t it? Wikipedia tells me that the game may have been invented 500 years before christ by a guy named Confucius, and since all the history of the world seems to come from China, this might just be true. And Poker? “English actor Joseph Crowell reported that the game was played in New Orleans in 1829″… I can really imagine how some Texas-Ranger looking dude on his horse passed by a couple of chinese migrant railway slaves and studied them playing Mahjong, only to come up with the idea of Poker later. The very first version of Poker may even have been played on self-made cards using toilet paper, who knows? But then again, did the cowboys have toilet paper in the west? Thinking about it, I can’t recall a western movie where you ever saw a cowboy take a dump, but hey, whatever. Would’ve been too much to ask Russell Crowe in 3:10 To Yuma to make more history lesson out of the movie than action. The indians probably used the scalps, no?

I am getting of the subject. So every player gets 13 tiles in the beginning, and then player after player take a new tile and drop one. The mission is, to get three similar tiles or what would be a “little road” in Poker, like 4-5-6. There are some special in-between rules, like if you have two 3’s and one player drops another one you can scream “PANG!”, take it and reveal the three 3’s. It sounds confusing and the very first rounds are tough, but once you’re in the game, it’s so much more fun than Hold ‘Em or whatever is in style now. The cool thing is that you play without a poker face, because you don’t really gamble during playing, but you set a price for the round before the game.

I lost around a dollar in one hour, but if you go to the right place in Shanghai, you can probably loose a lot more in that time. But what do the french people say? “Gambling is the son of avarice and the father of despair.” So we’ll leave it to the family table here in Xi’An…


WARNING! Do not buy The Sims 2: Pets (if you have a wife)!

The Sims 2: pets (Copyright: EA Games)After buying the Nintendo Wii the weekend before last, we headed back to the store on friday evening where we bought it, near line 2 station Dongchang road. We wanted a second Wii controller all week badly to play Wii Sports: Tennis and other games against each other, and the game store lady told us she would have new ones in last week. And she did! But damn, a controller costs almost a quarter of the whole console set, a whopping 450 kuai. At least we bargained in some games with that price – one of them being The Sims 2: Pets.

Now after we bought the Wii my wife told me that she’d like to have some ‘real life’ game, and I guess no other game than The Sims comes near that request. I played the very first one a couple of years ago quite heavily for about two weeks, but when I’d realized that there was no ‘end’ of the game in that sense, I got tired of it and never touched it again. You just keep on playing The Sims, there will never be any end-boss or something else – that’s weird and fascinating at the same time.

Saturday afternoon we launched the game – and from the second the game started, my wife was hooked. We (actually: she) didn’t stop playing until the middle of the night! It’s quite more complex than the first Sims game, you have much more choices, but the concept is the same: live. Your Sim needs to eat, sleep, shower and sh*t. At the same time, you have one or more pets to take care of – you can create a family, and then add cats and / or dogs. The pets require attention, too: They also need food, and you can teach them tricks, you can scream at them when they dig around in your garden, and, and, and… What’s completely new is the ‘town center’, where you can go with your pets and get them washed, buy them cakes and meet other Sims.

The game is really great, so why not buy it? Because you (the man) will not be able to touch another game again. I wanted to finally finish Resident Evil 4 so bad, I wanted to continue saving Hyraule with my Zelda hero, I wanted to try out the insanely funny Wario Moves… But that all had to wait. I could have glued the controller to my wife’s hands, it wouldn’t have mattered – she didn’t let go anymore, until late that night.

And I can hardly blame her, having experienced exactly the same with the first part some years ago! So do yourself (and your action game needs) a favor, and never ever buy The Sims 2: Pets (if you have a wife). Trust me on that one…


Buying a Nintendo Wii in Shanghai.

Nintendo Wii and Games

I wanted a Xbox 360. But then I saw that the prices for HDTV’s didn’t drop that much and that we probably weren’t going to buy one anytime soon. No HDTV, no Xbox 360 necessary. I don’t wanna play Halo 3 on a 21 inch screen TV. Who would? So I thought, this might be a good time to buy something to get rid of all the fat I accumulated during our wedding: A Nintendo Wii! Every time I went into one of these electronic places, I saw people jumping and moving spastically around, must be really good for health that thing. While it doesn’t train every part of your body, your arms will ache rather fast – especially after 3 rounds of ‘Wii Sports – Boxing’. Typing this entry is not very comfortable, let me tell you…

So there are probably hundreds of places where you can buy a Wii. I recommend you to buy one inside a big mall, because the shops there tend to stay open longer than small local shops. You don’t wanna find out that the store closed just a week after you bought your console, believe me… So head over to the Hong Kong Plaza or like us, to the big electronic place near Dongchang Lu in Pudong. Game shops are usually on the second or thrid floor, so head up. There will be at least 10 shops selling exactly the same, and it’s not really important to go to everyone asking for the price – the maximum difference you’ll find is like 50 kuai or something. But you can eventually bargain that away. You will have to buy a japanese Nintendo Wii with japanese menus, so don’t even think about using the internet on your machine. My Wii had also a crack chip installed, called the ‘WiiKey’ or ‘Wii key’. It allows my Wii to run fake games. And you can buy lots of them for 10 kuai each. After some time, we had worked out a fair deal with the game store lady: We got a modified (or cracked) japanese Nintendo Wii, a memory card, 10 games and a adapter (because the japanese Wii runs on 110 volts while we have 220 in China) for a round 2.000 kuai. Just the Wii alone costs in Europe 2.500 kuai, so that seemed like a good deal to us. Of course there a people who read this and argue that you can bargain two more hours to get it another 100 kuai cheaper, but if you have that much free time, you should better start looking for a job.

Back home, after setting the Wii up, connecting it to my amplifier, I got the first shock: The Wii Remote didn’t work. Since the Wii menu was in japanese, I didn’t know what to do. So we called the shop lady (ALWAYS take a business card!!!) and she failed to explain to us that you need to ‘sync’ the remote to your console when you start it for the first time. Open the front of the Wii, open the battery case of the remote, and push the two red buttons at the same time. Then it worked fine! After that you need to set the time, the date… It’s all chinese, but easy to understand anyway. After all, this thing was designed for children, I guess.

The first game we tried was ‘Wii Sports’. There’s tennis, baseball, bowling, golf and boxing. It’s spectacular how good the remote understands your movement. I especially liked the baseball and golf modes – they are so much fun. The I tried all the other games, if they worked at all, and they did. The Godfather is sure a cool game, make sure to buy a copy of that. But what kept me away from sleeping all weekend was Resident Evil 4: by far the best title in the series. Not only are the graphics insane, but the feeling is so great, the way you have to play and shoot, it’s almost flawless. So cool. It’s pretty hard, too, and I didn’t manage to finish this game yet. I didn’t even start with Zelda yet, who knows how long that will take…

Anyway, the Wii is a fine console with a great new mode of playing, thanks to the creative new controls. Buying a Wii is heavily recommended, at least until the HDTV’s are cheaper and Halo 3 is out.