While many gamers out there clamor for the latest and greatest titles, full of high end graphics, multiplayer modes, the newest gaming widgets like the XBox Kinect, and all packed in a special edition tin box with bells and whistles (and a free T-shirt) there is a vast number of people who prefer things a little simpler. Social networks have demonstrated this, with millions of people playing things like Farmville and Mafia Wars via Facebook every day. In fact, many games don't sell as many copies in a year as these simpler games get players in a day. It's astounding, really, but it makes absolute sense. Gamers are a minority, but people still like getting to play games on their PC.

There are more complex games available online, too.

Companies like PopCap have made a fortune selling simpler titles to the masses online. Throw the name Zuma out there, and the majority of the world won't think of the South African president… they'll remember a frog shooting colored balls out of its mouth.

One of the problems that arises with these kinds of games is unique to South Africa, and countries with similar infrastructures. Thanks to fluctuating, often unfavorable exchange rates, as well as the cost of bandwidth in this country, getting games in this fashion can be expensive.

But there are companies locally, like Apex Interactive, that bring boxed copies of these games in, at a better price. Take Mah Jong Quest III, for example. This is a supremely addictive puzzle title that doesn't pretend to be more than it is: a fun game. And you can buy it at your local game retailer, rather than use your credit card details online and burn through that ever-present bandwidth cap.

Mah Jong Quest III presents the player with over 800 puzzles, using Mah Jong tiles as a basis. It's not a Mah Jong game, as such (finding virtual versions of that complex and utterly brilliant game is difficult.) Rather, this game tasks the player with matching two Mah Jong tiles in order to remove them from a complex layout of tiles. The aim is to clear all the tiles away.

The idea is simple, but the game itself, in terms of strategic puzzling, is very complex.

The game offers the player a few modes, like revisiting puzzles from previous games and the like. The main mode, though, is called Kwazi's Quest, and tells the tale of a man who faces life's challenges with the help of a magical tile set. The player will have to work through around 72 puzzles (of increasing complexity) to finish the quest, which also requires the player to make decisions about the way Kwazi approaches life. It's hardly a CRPG, but it's fun none the less.

Kwazi's Quest also brings a few variations into the traditional Mah Jong puzzle idea. The game features special tiles in most of the layouts, which may aid the player in solving each layout. Some raise tiles, others turn particular types of tiles into balloons which float away, and so on. The special tiles become as much part of the strategy as removing matching pairs, and clever use of these special abilities can lead to very fast solution times, and big bonus scores. Even more variation comes into play on some layouts, as the player will need to match three tiles, instead of two.

The simplicity of the game's presentation belies its complexity. The graphics are very simple, although they are clear enough to play properly. The controls really come down to left-clicking with the mouse. But just because a game is simple doesn't mean it isn't fun. In fact, the highly addictive nature of Mah Jong Quest III is wonderful… and, quite frankly, it's nice to be able to relax with a simpler title.

Naturally, if you are into a hail of bullets and tons of action, this might not be your cup of tea. But, if you enjoy a challenging, enjoyable puzzle game (for that added mental stimulation) you could do far worse than pick up this title.

At A Glance

A challenging yet simple puzzle game, for those who want some cerebral stimulation

Developer: iWin
Publisher: Avanquest
Distributor: Apex Interactive

Platform: PC

The author writes about all game types but really enjoys the latest and greatest games that exploit advances in technology like the upcoming Kinect games and the games for Sony's new Playstation MOVE platform. You can read more articles about the XBox Kinect games at kinectyourself.com or right here on infobarrel with this article that explores games for kinect.