WHAT IS MAH JONG -V-G-A-?
Mah Jongg -V-G-A- is a high-tech simulation of the ancient Chinese game of Mah Jongg. Some historians date Mah Jongg back to the time of Confucius -- over 25 centuries ago!
It's believed that sailors and fishermen played Mah Jongg as a diversion from the monotony of their long voyages. The game was originally played with cards, but eventually bone and bamboo tiles were substituted since these were less likely to be blown off the deck.
Mah Jongg -V-G-A- recreates the beauty and addictive pleasure of
Mah Jongg, but uses modern data processing techniques and high-resolution graphics instead of bamboo tiles.
In an attempt to make this game as elegant and as enjoyable as possible, the author has used some of the most advanced features of today's state-of-the-art MS-DOS computers. Not all PC computers are able to run Mah Jongg -V-G-A-. But if yours can, prepare yourself for the meeting of the past and future!!!
WHAT DO I NEED?
Mah Jongg -V-G-A- will run on properly-equipped PC's and compatibles with 512k of memory. It should run with less, but I don't know the exact lower limit.
A VGA graphics card and a Microsoft-compatible mouse are also required.
I also recommend a secondary monochrome monitor. Mah Jongg -V-G-A- will use both the VGA and the monochrome monitors simultaneously to display the game board and statistics. While you don't NEED the monochrome display, I find it to be a useful part of the game.
A fast processor isn't really necessary. While a fast machine and a fast graphics card will speed up tile removal somewhat, the game plays just fine on a standard turbo XT.
THE GAME OF MAH JONGG
There are 42 different tiles used in Mah Jongg as follows: 27 Suit tiles (nine tiles in each of three suits), 3 Dragons, 4 Winds, 4 Seasons, and 4 Flowers.
The Suit Of Dots - This suit goes back to the original sailor's version of Mah Jongg. The dots probably represent money.
The Suit Of Bam - Bam stands for Bamboo. Because bamboo was used to make deadly spears, this suit is thought to represent power or victory.
The Suit Of Crak - These are also called Characters or Actors.
Crak may represent actual people or may simply be characters from the
The Dragons - In the Ancient Mah Jongg, each suit was associated with a Dragon as follows:
White dragons - Suit Of Dots
Red Dragons - Suit Of Bam
Green Dragons - Suit Of Crak
This association has no direct bearing on the current play of the game.
The Winds - These tiles simply represent the four directions of the winds -- North, South, East, and West.
The Flowers - The four flowers - Orchid, Plum, Mum, and Bamboo - were introduced by a medieval princess to add beauty and romance to the game.
The Seasons - This is another direct representation -- this time of the seasons - Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. It is thought that the seasons were added to Mah Jongg by river gamblers.
THE GAME BOARD
Each game board consists of 144 tiles made up of four of each type of tile EXCEPT for the Seasons and Flowers of which there is one each. The tiles are laid out in a formation called a Dragon.
The position of each tile in the dragon is completely random, making each dragon unique. Some are more formidable than others. Some are actually impossible to defeat. But all are challenging and exciting.
The tiles are placed in stacks ranging in height from one tile at the edge to five tiles at the center. The easiest way to understand the dragon is to see one. Run Mah Jongg -V-G-A-. The dragon you'll see will be a far better explanation than I can give.
PLAYING MAH JONGG
The object of Mah Jongg is simple -- remove all of the tiles by matching pairs. But there IS a catch. Only tiles which are "free" can be removed.
A tile is considered "free" if there's nothing on top of it and if it can slide out to the left OR right. If tiles on both sides are stacked to the same height the tile is not "free" to be removed.
Two tiles MUST be free and MUST be an exact match (exceptions later) before they can be removed from the dragon. Removal of mis-matched tiles and removal of un-free tiles is not allowed.
The exception: Since there is one each of the Seasons and the Flowers, these tiles cannot be matched identically. So any flower can match with any other flower. Likewise, any season can match with any other season.
During my countless hours of testing Mah Jongg -V-G-A-, I've found a few pieces of strategy that seem to help:
--> Concentrate on removing the four tiles which are blocking the most moves - the top tile, the single tile on the left, and the two tiles on the right.
--> Look for quadruples. If all four of a given tile are free, remove them all immediately.This will get them out of the way and won't cause problems later.
--> Keep an eye out for doubles (two tiles free) of tiles with only two left (the monochrome screen helps here). These should also be removed immediately.
--> Before removing two tiles of four remaining, be sure that no OBVIOUS harm (trapped tiles) will occur.
--> Always check for triples. If you've found a pair with four remaining, see if any more are free. Then, take the two which will free up the most tiles.
PLAYING MAH JONGG -V-G-A-
To start Mah Jongg -V-G-A-, just place the game disk into a drive, log onto that drive, and type MJVGA at the DOS prompt. After some disk activity, the opening screen will come up. A short time later, the title screen will fade and the dragon will be drawn.
If you have a monochrome monitor connected to your computer, you should be sure that it's turned on. From here on, I'll assume that you're looking at both monitors. If you only have a VGA monitor, just ignore all references to the Monochrome.
Tiles are removed by first selecting one, then selecting its mate. To select a tile, just point to it with the mouse and press the left mouse button. The tile will change color (and its listing on the monochrome will be highlighted) to show that it has been selected. You don't have to double-click to remove the tiles. When two tiles have been selected, they will (after validation) be removed.
To de-select a tile, just click on it again. The tile and its listing will return to normal.
If you click on a tile which is not free, a 'Tile Not Free" meessage will appear on the left side of the screen after which the offending tile will automatically be de-selected. Likewise, if you select two tiles wcich don't match, you'll see a "Tiles don't match" message after which both tiles will be de-selected.
The counter at the top-left of the VGA screen (and on the right side of the monochrome screen) will show how many tiles remain in the dragon.
This is all you really need to know to play the game. But, there are some other features which make the play a lot more enjoyable. The menu of features can be found in the upper right section of the VGA display. I'll explain each of these features individually in a moment. But, to activate any one of them, just point to the desired feature with the mouse and click the left button.
THE ADDED FEATURES
For convenience, I'll describe the features as they appear in the menu from top to bottom, starting with Info...
Selecting INFO... simply displays the game title, a copyright notice, a shareware notice, and the author's name & address.
This isn't necessary, but it's nice to have just in case the program gets separated from its .DOC file. To return to the game, click the RIGHT mouse button.
MESSAGES ARE ON / OFF
This option controls whether or not the "Tile not free" and
Tiles do not match" messages are printed. The messages are initially on. They can be toggled on / off by clicking on the box. When the messages are turned off, un-free tile selections are ignored and mis-matched selections are simply reset. Experienced players may prefer to turn off the messages to keep mis-clicks from slowing up the game with messages.
Restore will load a game previously saved to disk. A window will open and you'll be asked to type a file name. If you hit this button accidentally, just cancel the restore by pressing Return without typing a file name.
Selecting Quit will clear both monitors and return you to the DOS prompt.
Clicking on New Game will start a new game of Mah Jongg. The VGA screen will clear and the title screen will appear while the computer shuffles the tiles. Then, the title screen will fade and a new dragon will be drawn.
The Save command is Restore's partner. You can save a current game to disk for later completion by clicking here. You'll be asked for a file name for the game. If you decide not to save the game, just press Return without typing anything. Either way, you'll be returned to the current game.
To see exactly what tiles are left in the dragon, just click here! The dragon will be replaced by a graphic depiction of exactly how many of which tiles are left. Very useful for determining tricky moves! To return to the game board, just click the RIGHT mouse button.
Of course, monochrome users will seldom have to use this feature. All of this information (and much more) is constantly displayed on the monochrome monitor.
Each time you click on Back-up, your last move will be taken back. Note that the tile(s) which are being returned to the board will be momentarily highlighted on the monochrome screen. This feature helps you to quickly return to "wherever I removed those such-and-such tiles." You can back-up all the way to the beginning of the game, if you like.
Help is really it's own little sub-function. When you click on help, the machine will pause for a moment (it's looking for moves) and will then do one of two things. If no moves are left, yu'll see a "No moves left" message on the left side of the screen. You're now free to start a new game or back-up to try to correct errors in this one (I often do this).
If one or more moves is left, the message will tell you how many. The tiles for the first move will be highlighted on both monitors. Then, a small control panel with four buttons
will appear on the bottom left section of the VGA screen. To leave Help, click on Exit. To see the next move, just click on "Next". Click on "Previous" to display the previous move. When you've decided which move you'd like to take, you can execute it by first stepping to it with the Next / Previous buttons and then clicking on "Do It!" The help menu will disappear and your selected move will be executed.
The help system is automatically exited when you select Do It! to keep you from playing the entire game from within the Help menu. After all, we've got to give the Dragon a fighting chance!!
Distributive size: 75K Windows-95,98,ME,2000,XP.NT
Click here to SUPER MAH JONG
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