China Town GameWik

China Town

Released 1991 · consists of 1 releases.

A Japan-exclusive falling-block tile-matching puzzle arcade game by Data East, where players form melds of mahjong tiles and attempt to form high-scoring mahjong hands.

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China Town

First release date 1991
Platform Arcade
Developer Data East Corporation
Publisher Data East Corporation
Genre Puzzle
Theme Fantasy , Sci-Fi , Comedy
Franchises
Aliases

Overview

China Town in YirGame

China Town is a falling-block tile-matching puzzle game developed and released by Data East for arcades in Japan in 1991.

While the game resembles other tile-matching puzzle games of the time, such as Columns, Dr. Mario, and Puyo Puyo, China Town is unique in that players control the placement of an non-rotatable single tile (one of 35 types of mahjong tiles) in order to form valid melds from the real-life tile game mahjong, automatically moving them to the player's "hand". Once a 14-tile mahjong hand has been made (usually with 4 melds and 1 pair from the board), the level ends and the player is scored based on the hand's score in the Japanese (or "riichi") variant of mahjong. The game is timer-based, with higher-scoring hands adding more to the in-game timer and extending the credit.

The game includes four game modes (each with minor differences, such as the addition of a bonus button-mashing mini-game or a board game progression), all of which can be played either "singles" (one player) or "doubles" (two player). Doubles mode is unique in that both players share the same board, requiring them to either co-operate to get one player a high-scoring hand (and extend the timer) or compete to get their hand first (and get the points).

Gameplay

China Town in YirGame

China Town uses the 34 tile types used in Japanese mahjong. There are three suits of basic tiles numbered 1-9: characters, bamboo, and circles. There are also two sets of "honor" tiles: 4 Wind directions (east, south, west, north), and 3 Dragons (red, green, and white). (Flower and Season tiles featured in some other regional variants are not featured.) There are 4 of each tile in the "deck" for a total of 136. In addition to the standard tiles, it also includes an extra "joker" tile.

China Town is played with a joystick and one button. Similar to other falling block puzzle games, tiles fall one-by-one into a 6x7 grid controlled by the joystick. Tiles are cleared from the playfield by combining adjacent tiles into "melds" of tiles in the same suit: sequences (e.g., 1-2-3, 2-3-4, etc.), three-of-a-kind, or four-of-a-kind. When a meld is cleared, it is removed from the board and set aside into the player's hand. If one tile creates multiple melds, the player must select which one to set aside; the game will cycle through highlighting each option, and the player can select the highlighted group with the button. Also, as in standard mahjong, the player has the option to upgrade a three-of-a-kind to a four-of-a-kind if the final tile appears later on; the fourth tile will pause at the top of the playfield to give the player time to either press the button to add it to the hand, or cancel the delay by moving the tile with the joystick.

China Town in YirGame

The goal of each stage is to form a hand following the rules of mahjong. A standard hand is composed of 4 melds and 1 pair. There are also two special hands in mahjong that do not follow the standard hand construction: 7 pairs (fairly self-explanatory), and "13 orphans" (a sort of "royal flush": 1+9 in each basic suit, one of each wind, one of each dragon, plus one duplicate tile from the set).

In China Town, the special hands 7 pairs and 13 orphans can only be earned if no standard melds have been cleared from the playfield. 7 pairs can be earned so long as there are in fact 7 pairs located somewhere in the playfield. By contrast, to claim 13 orphans, tiles must form a connected "path" or "region" in the playfield of 14 (or more) honor of terminal tiles; all 13 of the unique honor and terminal tiles must appear in the region at least once, and at least one duplicate tile must be added to form a complete hand of 14 tiles.

If a joker tile appears, it can be used to complete any sequence, three-of-a-kind, or four-of-a-kind. If all 4 melds have already been formed, it can even be used to complete the final pair. However, the limit of 4 each tile in the deck still applies; if 4 of a tile is already present on the screen, the joker cannot be used to generate a "5th tile." If a joker tile is placed in a position where it cannot be used for one reason or another, it disappears.

Hands are also scored using standard riichi mahjong "yaku" (a win condition and scoring criteria, similar to poker hands). The main "yaku" scoring criteria award varying han values (major points; each additional han doubles the base value of the hand). There are also other minor scoring criteria that award fu (mini-points; smaller bonuses to the overall hand value); although China Town does not display fu in the result screen, it is still taken into account in the final score calculation. However, some other concepts from multiplayer mahjong such as "open vs. closed hand," "prevailing wind," and "riichi"/"ready hand" are not represented. All hands are scored as non-dealer, closed, and self-draw.

One major deviation from standard riichi mahjong scoring is the value of a 7 pairs hand; due to the incredibly high difficulty of scoring 7 pairs without clearing away any other tiles from the playfield, it is considered a max value "yakuman" hand (32000 points).

In the incredibly rare circumstance that a player is able to construct a hand that fulfills multiple yakuman criteria, China Town caps the hand value at "double yakuman" (64000 points). Although all relevant line items will still be displayed if the player is somehow able to achieve triple or even quadruple yakuman, there is no additional message or scoring bonus beyond the double yakuman cap.

China Town in YirGame

The game has a time limit, with bonuses awarded for high scoring hands and penalties assessed for failing to complete a hand before the playfield is filled. The timer starts at 2500 units (~2m9s total). The time bonus for a winning hand is the hand's point value divided by ten. The time penalty for failing to complete a hand is 1000 units; if there is still time remaining, the stage must be replayed. The game does not automatically end when the timer reaches zero; instead, the player begins to accrue a "debt" of negative time that must be paid off by a winning hand. If the timer is zero or below at the end of the stage (even if a winning hand was earned), the game is over.

At the beginning of the game, the stage starts with an empty playfield. In later stages, the playfield contains preset patterns of tiles pre-filled from the deck. Initial tiles can start either "face up" with its identity known, or "face down"; a "face down" tile is revealed when a tile lands next adjacent to it. As the player progresses, stage layouts become increasingly challenging and the frequency of Joker tiles appears to decrease. Higher scoring hands will also skip further into the game, which acts as a form of dynamic difficulty and increases the challenge of aiming for a high score.

Some later stages feature animated backgrounds or distractions that partially obscure the playfield, but the game is otherwise follows the same general mechanics throughout.

Multiplayer

China Town in YirGame

China Town can be played as a one player ("Singles") or two player ("Doubles") game. In two player mode, each player controls separate tiles, forms separate hands, and has a separate score counter. However, the indicator of which tile will appear next is shared; the player that places their tile first will take the next one shown. The player that completes their hand first will end the stage and earn points. Both players also share the same game timer.

Doubles is a hybrid co-operative/competitive mode. Players can either work together to earn high scoring hands and keep the game timer high enough to continue play into later stages, or race to complete hands to earn more points or even intentionally sabotage the game to run down the timer.

Game Modes

At the start of each play, players can choose from one of four game modes:

  • Professional - Standard endless marathon mode, with no mini-games, cutscenes, or board game progression.

China Town in YirGame

  • Fuusen Yarou: CG Kaze Action ("Balloon Rascals: CG Wind Action") - Between rounds is a one-on-one button-mashing action mini-game (known as "Pump Game") where two cartoony figures attempt to pop the balloon on the opponent's side first by either over-inflating it (rapidly tapping on the button) or having a turtle with a spiked signpost run into it (with players periodically taking a break to run at the turtle and change its direction). When both players run at the turtle at the same time, they perform a quick button-mashing sequence in an attempt to stun the opponent. The mini game is either PVP or player-vs-CPU, with the winner awarded a Joker tile power up.
    Collecting the Joker power up in a single player game determines which player, if any, will receive Joker tiles in the next stage; the winning player will receive Joker tiles, while the losing player will receive none. If neither player wins before the timer expires, neither player will receive Joker tiles. In a single player game, Joker tiles seem to appear at a slightly increased rate, perhaps to compensate for the risk that losing the Pump mini game could instead result in the player facing a stage with none.
  • Narikin Monogatari ("Upstart Story") - A simple and comical story mode with a limited amount of stages, showing the player's character amassing various wealth and luxuries by winning hands. The han value of each hand determines how many "luxuries" are collected, up to a limit of 6 per stage. In Doubles mode, each cutscene shows the player who won the hand receiving luxuries, with the opposing player shown in poverty.
    Collecting 27 items triggers the ending. The fixed length of the game and 6 han (haneman) limit on number of items collected per stage makes it very important to earn as many baiman, sanbaiman, yakuman, or double yakuman hands as possible if aiming for a high score record.

China Town in YirGame

  • Lady & Bunny: Hyper Sugoroku, Dragon Key no Nazo ("Lady & Bunny: Hyper Sugoroku, Riddle of the Dragon Key") - A mode with board game progression (resembling e-sugoroku). Players control either Hyper Lady-May (player one) or Bunny-Ran (player two) as they work to collect all eight pieces of their "Dragon Key" scattered across the galaxy to enter the "Miracle Castle" goal space (where after winning a difficult stage, they choose from multiple endings). Players "roll the dice" by winning hands, with the "han" value of each hand determining the how much space to progress (from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 6). Periodically, a random event will occur that will move the player from the space they landed on to another, as well as potentially start the "Pump Game" mini-game.

Regardless of game mode, the main gameplay remains the same and players can earn a spot in the high score table by accumulating score for that credit.

Bugs

Double Joker

When a joker tile is placed without forming a meld, it crumbles and disappears. However, while the cell where the joker was placed appears empty, its id is still present in the playfield. If another joker appears, it is possible to create a glitched "three-of-a-kind" by connecting it to another tile adjacent to the invisible joker.

Limitations:

  • Both the first/invisible joker and second/visible joker must be adjacent to a standard tile.
  • It's not possible to form a sequence meld with this bug; both joker tiles attach to the same standard tile, making the only possible meld a three-of-a-kind.
  • It's not possible to form a four-of-a-kind with this bug.
    • An invisible joker will not associate with another invisible joker.
    • If a pair of standard tiles is made adjacent to an invisible joker, connecting a visible joker to the pair will offer the selection of either the legal three-of-a-kind (with real tiles) or the bugged three-of-a-kind (with invisible joker).
  • From initial testing, Double Joker does not appear to allow breaking the 4 tile limit of each type in the deck.

Gallery

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Specific release details

China Town
China Town
Platform Arcade
Region Japan
Developer Data East Corporation
Publisher Data East Corporation
Release date N/A
Product code None
Company code None
Rating
Minimum Players 1
Maximum Players 2
Resolutions N/A
Sound Systems N/A
Single player Features N/A
Multi player Features Local co-op, Local competitive
Widescreen Support No
Notes N/A

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