When I first met my Japanese in-laws, I realized I had to toe a fine line in order to win acceptance. To that end, I paid attention to my father-in-law’s habits; while I am not much of a gardener, I do enjoy games. When I found out he played Mahjong, I decided to pick it up. After a week or two of playing, most iPhone apps were not much of a challenge; that is to say, with the exception of Hudson’s “Mahjong Police”.
The ratings on the Japanese app store  are in the 3 star range. This is incredibly odd, because expensive apps (Mahjong Police was 10$ or 1200 yen) rarely have bad ratings. The commentators mainly complain that the game is impossible to beat, and that the AI acts counterproductively. For example, other detectives who are ostensibly on your side tend to do insane things to reduce your points, or find ways to attack you directly in the game (when they should logically not be doing so).
I needed help, and uncle Google was always so helpful when I had problems with old games. I found great information for everything from Star Trek 25th anniversary to Taito’s Groove Coaster. Obviously don’t expect Mahjong Police to have useful results in the English language; however, it was shocking that I found no useful results on the Japanese-language Google search. I found the official site, some useless affiliate sites that offer no useful information , and links to older versions of the game . What’s worse is that the iTunes page did not show up, and the negative reviews are effectively censored. Instead, this somewhat-flawed game is portrayed as an electronic equivalent of rose-scented fair-trade gold that was mined by Starbucks baristas.
This is a symptom of a deeper problem; the “trusted web”.
I define the “trusted web” as being much like the “trusted media”; it is a site that an average Japanese user would not feel uncomfortable visiting (where comfort is proportional to positive portrayals in the “trusted media”). The value of this is not lost on Japanese entrepreneurs. “Trusted” bloggers shamelessly accept bribes to write about products and the backlinks they generate are not indicators of truth, nor of interest, just the size of the bribe. The “trusted web” is really a set of treacherous chains that prevent its users from accessing genuine content (for any meaningful definition of genuine).
I have no doubt that there are interesting discussions about this (and other topics). I fear, however, that these are hidden in ghettos like 2ch and parsing the signal from the noise may not be that easy. Maybe the idea of crawling 4chan’s predecessor makes people a bit twitchy, but god damnit, I want to know how to play this game well, not how to buy it a second time.
Extracting truthful information or discussions from the Japanese web probably means finding indicators other than links. Until someone does a better job of crawling the real Japanese social web, the Japanese web will be the tool of marketers and not a serious source of information.
Please break their chains on your results Goog, they make you look bad.
(Which is to say, they keep me angry as I keep losing this game over and over again.)
3. This might have been helpful but I did not find anything useful for older versions of the game either, sadly. This review of the GBA version was all I could find, but did not provide much in the way of help.
4. Without pointing any fingers, there are a few startups that I happen to know who used this to their advantage. You may choose to disbelieve me and ignore this blog.
A final note.
For what it is worth, I do think that Mahjong Police is a decent game. At least the story mode. (I can win the other two modes without much effort).
My guess is that the story mode is programmed to train you to recognize different achievable hands. Instead of going for a pure random approach, it gives you X paths to victory and then punishes you for not recognizing them. If that’s the case, it is brilliant, and playing it will no doubt help me while playing with friends and Yumiko’s father. (I can’t understand what else it could be becuase, joking aside, I’m not _that_ bad at Mahjong).