Ahh… Tropico Island… home to the most beautiful butterflies the world has ever seen. In Tropico Jong: Butterfly Expedition, you get to experience first-hand these colorful creatures as you embark on a journey of discovery through this butterfly-scouting mahjong game.
Tropico Jong is a classic mahjong game where you take the role of a hobbyist on a quest to discover all the butterfly inhabitants of Tropico Island. Armed with a jar, a magnifying glass and passion, you set off across 101 levels of classic mahjong gameplay. And with over 400 butterflies to collect, you’ll be kept busy finding butterflies stacked under seemingly endless piles of mahjong tiles.
The mechanics of this game follow classic mahjong, where you have to match two same-patterned free tiles in order to remove them from the board. However, there’s a little twist when it comes to flower and fruit tiles because you can match them up even if their images are different from each other. And of course, the whole objective of the game is for you to collect butterfly tiles buried at the bottom of each stack. Butterfly tiles can be removed one by one and you can only beat a level until you get to find them all.
The game interface is quite helpful in that it includes the required number of butterflies you should find for each level, the last tile match-up you made, and the maximum number of moves you can still possibly make. With these, you can plan each and every click for you to rake in more points. Because each quick successive tile match-up triggers combo points, which in turn add more numbers to your accumulated score.
Found yourself stuck and can’t find any tiles to match? Don’t worry, because you can always employ limited number of chances to undo your last move, shuffle the tiles or get a hint from the computer. Points are awarded after beating a level too, but use them wisely though, because when there are no more matches available on the board, the game asks if you want to use up a shuffle chance, and when you have no more shuffle chances available, there’s no other way around the level than to retry beating the same stage from scratch.
Tropico Jong also features a normal and expert difficulty setting to choose from before you start each level. Normal mode will highlight free to use tiles and the expert mode will not. However, if you’re playing for a maximum score, expert mode will definitely help because the points accumulate faster than in normal mode, and in my opinion, there’s really not much difference in this game’s difficulty setting unless you are a real beginner when it comes to playing mahjong.
If you need a break from all that tile-matching, you can always check out The Valley to get to see your butterfly finds. From the Cairns Birdwing Butterfly to the Southern Festoon and to more rare butterflies, you can get them all freely roaming in this part of the game, and learn more about each creature’s scientific data. You have to catch each butterfly, though, before you learn anything from it, and with so many flying critters, it can get pretty confusing when more are being added after each level.
In terms of presentation, you just have to give Tropico Jong a thumbs-up when it comes to the background graphics and relaxing music. The gameplay is just as addictive as any classic mahjong game, and the number of levels will ensure that you won’t be putting this game down for quite a long time. However, this means that all that unvaried mahjong can be pretty tiresome too, and casual gamers looking for something unique in mahjong games won’t find any original stuff coming out from this game aside from pretty butterflies and The Valley.
But I really never imagined how exciting it is to collect butterflies and it’s even more exciting when you see The Valley get filled with tons of those beautiful and unique colors fluttering around. In comparison with, say, Mythic Mahjong, Tropico Jong isn’t the most innovative take on mahjong, but it’s still fun and is able to bring out the best in a classic but still addictive genre.