Dragon's Challenge

Reviewed by: Robin Nobles, send e-mail
Published by: Expert Software
Requires: Win 95 or 98; 486DX/100MHz or higher PC; 8 MB of RAM; 2X CD-ROM; 16-bit sound card; 15MB hard drive space; mouse
MSRP: US$12.99

(Ed Note: reviewed in January 2000. As of December 2002 Expert Software appears to be out of business, but you can still find this game CD in delete bins and software racks)

Picture a screen full of ancient Oriental tiles artfully stacked on top of each other in various formations. Your job is to match pairs of tiles and empty the screen. However, you can only remove matching tiles whose sides are exposed and are not covered by any other tiles. And, you're working against the clock.

Dragon's Challenge is an Oriental tile game that's impossible to put down, even for someone like me who's not game oriented. If you've ever played mahjongg, you'll love this game! It's very similar, but you have so many more options and difficulty levels with Dragon's Challenge.

Installation was simple, like all of Expert Software's installations. And, you aren't stuck with having to read a 3" user's manual that no one can understand.

To play, you simply choose the level of difficulty by picking the layout of your tiles. You have 12 layouts to choose from. Some of the layouts are much more challenging, in that there are fewer edges, so you have a more difficult time moving tiles. Example layouts include the Heart, Matrix, Bridge, and Garden.

Click on "start," and you're playing. Can't get much easier than that.

You simply look for matching tiles and click on them both. Those tiles are removed, and you can now see and utilize the tiles beneath them. And the game goes on.

However, a lot of strategy is involved. You can't simply choose matching tiles at random. You need to concentrate on the top level of stacks first, or you'll find yourself beaten at the end. Plus, as I mentioned before, some of the layouts are much more difficult than others.

If you get stuck, you can choose "hint" to find out if there are any plays left. Or, you can shuffle the tiles, or even undo your last move.

Once you've used up your number of moves, you can choose between shuffling the tiles or ending the game. It's similar to a last ditch effort to let you win. But the catch is, you're basically starting a new game, because those tiles have to be shuffled.

You can play the game by yourself in the solitaire mode, or play in the tournament mode where you're competing against top- scoring opponents.

If you don't like the screen background or want something new, you can choose between 18 different backgrounds. You can turn the music and sound effects on or off as well. If you want to use different tile sets, you can pick from between 6 tile sets in motifs such as space, ocean scenes, wildlife, or Oriental.

Dragon's Challenge is so easy to use that even a child can play, yet challenging enough for any adult. It's relaxing and extremely addictive and a lot of fun to boot. I highly recommend it.

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