A few days ago, I mentioned that I’d missed my goal of working through my Dreamcast backlog by 9/9/2010, and that was apparently sufficient shame to convince me to go back and boot up the little white box and play some Idol Janshi Wo Tsukucchaou, or “Let’s Make a Mahjong Idol”
This is, well, a version of Idol Janshi Suchie-Pai III, but it’s a bit… well, it’s a bit changed.
See, back in the mid-90s, the Sega Saturn was the go-to home console for slightly naughty videogames, and the first two games in the series had been released for the Saturn with slightly naughty bits intact. Suchie-Pai Remix was, in fact, my first import Saturn game, and it got me hooked on mahjong for life.
By 1999, however, Sega had bowed to the mighty lobby that was the Japanese PTA and banned anything that could be seen as less-than-wholesome, so Suchie Pai III – which was originally a slightly naughty game when it was released in arcades – had to be turned into something considerably less naughty when ported to the Dreamcast.
Moreover, the name had to be changed to remove any association with the earlier entries in the series.
As an aside, there’s an amusing bit on the back of the game box where one of the characters is asking “why doesn’t the box say “Suchie-Pai” anywhere?” and another character responds “Shh, we promised not to ask about that”
So, the publisher did have a bit of a sense of humor about the whole thing, but there’s no disguising the sad truth that the game was pretty much hacked to ribbons for its home release. You only have a choice of six characters, each path through the game is limited to four rounds of mahjong, and it only takes a few hours to burn through all of the “scenario modes”, which is the term they use for the brief stories that set up each set of mahjong contests.
Oh, and just to add that extra little bit of fail, it’s one of only two Dreamcast games I own that refuses to boot if you have a VGA box. That probably more than anything else explains why it took me so long to get around to playing it.
After you’ve dug out an S-video cable and spent a few hours to play through the scenario modes, though, you can start the “Making Mode”. This is where you create your own character, dress her up, and go challenge people to mahjong. Here’s where the game actually strives to get some longevity value, because you need to earn points to buy new clothes and hairstyles and such, and you can lose points just as easily as win them. If you really want to outfit your Mahjong Idol in serious kit, it could take a very long time. In addition, the mahjong you play during Making Mode is rather harder than the mahjong from Scenario Mode, because there’s (a) no “panel match” game to earn powerups from and (b) no powerups to use against your opponents. You live or die by your straight-up skills with the tiles.
I played with that for a while, beat all of the available opponents once, discovered I could actually challenge my personally-created character to a contest, beat her after some consternation, unlocked a special outfit for doing that, and decided that I could probably put the game aside and still feel like I’d done it justice.