Idol Janshi Suchie-Pai IV: War Sometimes Changes
Another day, another mahjong game. This time, Idol Janshi Suchie-Pai IV – the last entry in the series and not a bad way to wrap things up.
Fourteen years passed between the first Suchie-Pai game, a Super Famicom cartridge from 1993, and this late PS2 release, and the characters know it. The characters know each other, they have memories of earlier days, and for a mahjong game it has a lot of talking – some of it very self-aware. For example, the first opponent you defeat tearfully starts taking off her outfit, because that’s what you DO when you lose at mahjong, and the main character quickly stops her with a “No, no, we don’t do that in this day and age.”
So, while Japanese knowledge isn’t essential, the game is a lot funnier with at least a basic understanding.
As usual, the plot is just there to move things along. The You & Me game center, a setting in the first games in the series, has closed down and been replaced with Maid Cafe You & Me, with the player as the manager of the cafe and tasked with running around Akihabara to poach maids from OTHER establishments. That’s a bit of an in-joke in itself, considering when this came out and how arcades were on the downturn but you couldn’t throw a rock in Akiba without it bouncing off a frilled skirt.
Naturally you do this by challenging them to mahjong, although at least one of the maids you run into is just tired of her current job and comes back to You & Me without a fight.
Matches are broken up with little skits, though of course you can just skip them if you don’t follow the language. They’re very energetic, with lots of animation and vocal emotion, and I kind of want to make avatar images out of the little talking heads.
The last boss is the series mascot, Miyuri. I’m not sure if this is actually the first time you play mahjong against her – in previous entries, she’s just been someone you bump into and who tells you where to find your next opponent or so on. She DEFINITELY wasn’t an opponent in any of the games where clothes actually go flying, for obvious reasons.
Anyway, Miyuri cheats. Like, oh my God, you would not believe how evil this little girl is, especially as she’s always talking about how she doesn’t know how to play and acting all nervous about her tiles and then lays down a yakuman and giggles about how “mahjong is fun!”
Srsly evil. SO many Game Over screens. Fortunately the game comes with unlimited continues, and it finally decided I had suffered enough and gave me a winning hand of a kind I had NEVER seen before. Like, it laid my tiles down for me, and the little “press O to tsumo” prompt popped up, and I looked at the tiles, and I looked at the “would you like to win now?” prompt, and I looked at the tiles again and pressed O assuming that there was some mistake, and…
I had to look this up, because wut.
It turns out to be a very weird win condition – basically, a win condition that only shows up when you have a draw that is SO awful that it’s actually almost impossible to have such a bad hand. I will let Wikipedia explain it:
I had a bit of a hard time laying my hands on a copy of Suchie-Pai IV in Japan, and it took several trips to random Book-Offs and Mandarakes before I found a copy, but it was worth the hunt. After playing several Saturn mahjong games, the change to PS2-era resolution and animation quality was a heck of a jump, and it was good times spending a few hours with the familiar characters.
Even if Miyuri IS evil.