Janryumon PLUS (Mahjong) Review

By , on November 14, 2011

Janryumon (Mahjong) for GREE
  • Publisher: NCSOFT
  • Genre: Dice
  • Released: 10 Nov, 2011
  • Size: 33.7 MB
  • Price: FREE!
Download on the AppStore
3 out of 5


  • Incredibly comprehensive and understandable Tutorial system; takes in to consideration common Western concepts/ideas.
  • Lenient 'freemium' play model; points required for online matches refilled each day.
  • Offline singleplayer mode to drill basic skills.


  • Interface and design still overwhelmingly suited for Japanese/Chinese players.
  • Extremely challenging gameplay with no alternate rules/modes to ease new players in.


If you are much like myself and have always wanted to learn the complex, yet amazingly fun game that is Mahjong, then Janryumon is simply without peer; take the time to master the basics before getting dominated by the online competitive play.

  • Full Review
  • App Store Info

Janryumon by NCSoft is simultaneously the most amazing and the most frustrating game I've played on an iOS device and this includes games I've either praised like a gibbering fan-boy or scalded for mistakes that go beyond basic flaws. This is because Janryumon is a client to play Reach Mahjong online against other players around the world, but more importantly the gameplay behind Mahjong is so rich - is so complex - that unless you are practiced in the game already, you WILL fail and fail often, though at times it's hard to know if it's entirely your fault.

You see, one of the most difficult things to overcome when playing Reach Mahjong is the language barrier - this is a game that has its roots in China, but this particular version is primarily Japanese in style, lending phrases from both languages to the game itself. With only a few seconds on the clock when it's your turn will you risk a possible Chi Pon Kan after declaring a Reach while discarding a Jungjang or take advantage of your position as East and Ron to seriously deplete North's score.

Confused? If you're not (and please excuse me if I completely messed something up there) then you'll want to grab Janryumon and jump online straight away. Those still wondering if I spoke a lick of sense can take advantage of the incredibly comprehensive 20 chapter interactive tutorial that not only teaches the game, but a bit of history while also taking in to consideration Western base concepts (such as the difference between the Chinese 'East, South, West, North' versus Western 'North, South, East, West' order of cardinal directions).

The game is freemium based for its online play, using a regenerating point system to join/create games. A single player option is available to play against the computer and is heartily recommended for learning players.

Sadly - and this is no minor thing - the game is still almost impenetrable despite the amazing tutorial and repeated play. This is in part thanks to its uncompromising Japanese/Chinese dominated interface where even tiny considerations like the inclusion of English alpha-numerals on the tiles could help with faster recognition of specific combinations critical to many of the game's complex rules. Furthermore there's no reason many of the game's buttons couldn't use English equivalents.

If you've always wanted to learn Mahjong or you're already a deft hand at the game, don't hesitate and grab Janryumon now; unfortunately for everyone else it will take a lot of dedication to learn, barring many casual players due to this high barrier.


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