Sometimes, I put a great deal of effort into finding a pun or a bit of wordplay to use as a post title, and sometimes it seems superfluous. With a game like this, I saved myself the time.
So. To avoid typing out the entire name every time, Hot Gimmick Cosplay-Jong for Nintendo Switch will henceforth be referred to as HGCJ4NS. Rolls right off the tongue, right?
I am not very well-versed in the Hot Gimmick series of mahjong games, since they didn’t get Saturn releases back in the day. From looking at Wikipedia, they were mostly arcade and PC releases, with a couple of Dreamcast and PS2 games, and HGCJ4NS appears to be a port of the 2005 PS2 game… even though it has a copyright date of 1997 on the main screen.
To the best of my knowledge, HGCJ4NS is the first Japanese arcade-style mahjong game to get an official English-language localization for any console ever. There were a couple released on Steam, under the “Pretty Girls Mahjong Battle” series, but Steam is… well, it’s Steam. There’s no major manufacturer looking at every game submitted to the Steam store and making sure it’s up to their standards, which is more apparent every day if you are brave enough to delve too deeply into the New Releases section, so there’s no hurdle to trip over, Omega Labyrinth-style, before winding up in the land of the red, white and blue.
Being on a console – much less a Nintendo console – this game making it to our shores is something of a feat. Mind you, ever since I got about two hours into Breath of the Wild and met Purah, the “She’s really over a hundred years old! Honest!” lolicon-bait researcher, I’ve realized that Nintendo is not quite as strict with their family-friendly localization policies this generation, but STILL.
Making it even less likely that HGCJ4NS would ever get localized, the plot is… oh, hell, let’s bust out the P word. It’s PROBLEMATIC, and if you need me I shall be over on my fainting couch with a sudden attack of the vapors.
Most mahjong games fall into the category of wanting to beat up other mahjong players so you can be the best mahjong player that ever was, though some get a little wacky. Idol Janshi Suchie-Pai IV, for example, has you in the role of managing a failing maid cafe and trying to poach employees from other maid cafes around Akihabara by mahjonging them into submission.
HGCJ4NS has you, well, disciplining your opponents into being better people by a) beating them at mahjong and b) making them wear embarrassing outfits until they confess their sins and promise to be a better person.
For example, one of your opponents is disrespectful to her betters, and another is an American woman who looks down on Japan. A third won’t eat carrots.
Won’t. Eat. Carrots.
Obviously these are sins that require a good scourging of the flesh, or at least humiliation-by-mahjong.
Meting out justice is somewhat hindered, mind you, by the fact that the deck is stacked against you. Which is a poker metaphor and thus inappropriate. Hmm. Tiles are stacked against you? That doesn’t quite scan. YOU WILL GET YOUR BUTT WHUPPED, SON. There we go.
Yeah, I believe that this sanbaiman was completely legitimate.
HGCJ4NS is a mahjong game that expects you to actually know how to play, to an unusual extent. Normally, arcade mahjong will prompt you when you can meld off your opponent’s discard, or when you can declare riichi, or AT LEAST when you are holding a winning hand. HGCJ4NS does none of this, and will cheerfully let you discard winning tiles without a moment’s hesitation.
In addition, you start off hands with a tiny number of points – only 2000 – and it takes very little effort on the CPU’s part to burn through your 2000 points and send you back to the Continue? screen.
You get two continues by default, by the way.
Furthermore, you need to win three hands – or starve the CPU of its points – in order to actually beat them, and the hand count gets reset if you continue. It’s pretty savage, though that does make any victories all that much more satisfying.
I did say “by default”, mind you. HGCJ4NS allows for a lot of customization. You can set the game to unlimited continues, or bump up your starting points, or change the difficulty higher or lower, and once you’ve tweaked some of that it becomes much easier to teach those rebellious girls a lesson about being, uh, less rebellious? Did I mention that this plot makes me twitch a little bit thinking about it?
Also buried in the options menu are settings to run the game in its original low-resolution graphics, to stretch the 4:3 image to fill the entire Switch screen, to add scanlines if you feel like it, that sort of thing. I’m partial to high-resolution graphics and a non-stretched image but with scanlines, myself.
There are three opponents on the starting screen, and once you beat them you are given another three to challenge. It looks like there are 12 girls to play mahjong against. I haven’t gotten there yet. You can’t challenge the later opponents directly, mind you, so you will probably be facing off against the initial three quite a few times.
Oh, and the localization is terrible. We’re talking someone just fed the text through a machine translator and called it a day levels of localization, here. It’s passable, though, and… well, it’s not like Zerodiv has a lot of competition in the English-localized arcade mahjong genre or anything. If you’re into it, just be into it.