Mahjong Alchemy loads fast and has no advertisements. It has good graphics but does lack some features you might expect in a mahjong game, such as hints and auto-shuffle.
To begin, click the PLAY GAME link under the picture at left. This opens the game in a pop-up window.
This is the only mahjong solitaire game I've ever come across that has an "alchemy" theme. Alchemy is a mythical process for transmuting base elements into gold. It's neat to see symbols of tools and elements used in the alchemy process (lead, tin, silver, etc.) on mahjong tiles.
The types of tiles you'll find in Mahjong Alchemy include:
Elements. These mahjong tiles show the symbol for metals such as bismuth, lead, gold, mercury, silver, and tin. There are also non-metals like phosphorus.
Ingredients. This group of tiles includes various alchemy ingredients such as vinegar, brass, spirit, water, stone, and crystal.
Alchemy Tools. The tool tiles show a picture of an alchemy tool such as a flask. They are numbered 1 through 9. For example, the "8 of Tools" tile.
Sun/Moon. These tiles show images of the sun and moon, including New Moon / Full Moon and Dawn Sun / Noon Sun.
Dragons. These tiles display a picture of a dragon - Black, Green, or Blue.
Alchemy Processes. These mahjong tiles show images of alchemy processes like weighing, burning, sublimating.
Alchemy Steps. These tiles show images of the steps of transmutation. They are simply numbered Step 1, Step 2, etc. with an associated image.
The tiles in each of these groups are assigned a point value. I don't understand the purpose of this point system.
During a mahjong game your goal is to remove as many pairs of tiles as possible. It doesn't make sense to try and be choosing about which pairs you want to remove based on points
As far as I could determine, there are only two subsets in Mahjong Alchemy that you can mix and match:
The alchemy processes include tiles such as Process Weigh, Process Sublime, and Process Burn. Alchemy steps are assigned a numeric value (for example, "Step 7").
Surprisingly, you cannot create matching pairs by mixing the Sun and Moon tile subsets. I'm not sure why the game designed it this way.
For instance, the Noon Day Sun and Dawn Sun cannot be paired together. And you can't pair up a New Moon tile with a Full Moon tile.
You also can't mix the dragon tiles. For example, a Black Dragon tile cannot be paired with a Blue Dragon tile.
There are only three options in this mahjong game:
Front View / Perspective View. Using this feature, you can change the viewing angle of the tile stack.Perspective view shows the levels of the stack more clearly. Front view lets you see the actual tiles more clearly. This option is accessible through the Menu button.
Deal New Tileset. I'm not sure how often you would use this, but you can deal a new set of mahjong tiles at any time using this feature.
Sound On/Off. There is only one background soundtrack, which you can mute if you wish. This option is accessible through the Menu button.
There are several features I wish Mahjongg Alchemy had, but which it doesn't:
Auto-Shuffle. When I ran out of moves, I was disappointed to find the tile stack that I had almost completed swept away. It was replaced by a set of new tiles.
Part of the joy of mahjong solitaire is removing the last pair of tiles from the board. I suppose a new tile set lets you rack up points, but reshuffle would have been a better feature.
Hints. Are you stuck and need a clue? Sorry, you're out of luck because Mahjong Alchemy won't give you a hint.
Level Shading. Many mahjong games display shading (also called ghosting) that makes it easier to determine the level on which a particular tile lies. Withoutshading, it's often hard to tell whether a tile is unblocked.
Timer Options. The forced count-down timer would have been more acceptable if you could choose the amount of time on the clock. But it's always a 15-minute countdown, like it or not.
Pause Button. Since you are forced to play on a fixed count-down timer, not being able to pause the game is especially annoying.
Undo Button. Being able to undo your last move is useful, but this mahjong game doesn't have that feature.
Mahjong Alchemy was released several years ago, so I won't be too critical. If memory serves, this was the first online mahjong solitaire game I ever played!