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Today Howard Lehr of TikGames announced that Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom is coming to the PlayStation Network this January.

To quote: A big 'hello' to all of the PlayStation blog readers out there! We at [Register or Login to view links] have been laboring away on this game for quite a while and it's a relief to finally be able to tell you all about the fantastic stories and artwork it contains.

You see, one of the keys things about Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom for PS3 (available on PSN in early January for $9.99) is right there in the name. There are three modes to the game, each offering a unique experience.

In Ancient Tales mode, each piece of an old Chinese story is revealed when the player finishes a layout by matching the one pair of golden tiles on the board.

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So, if you want to see the end of the story, you have to play your way through it and unlock the next episode. The stories are meant to add to the enjoyment of the classic game and pass along some ancient wisdom from one of the world's great cultures.

Now, keep in mind that there are hundreds of Chinese tales out there, all of which offer insights that we the players would value. However, many of them contain story elements that aren't exactly 'clean' by modern standards. It was important to us to select stories that were meaningful, but that also would pass ESRB considerations. Can you imagine an M-rated Mahjong game?!

In the end, we selected five Chinese morality tales, entitled "The Fox," "Tiger Shoes," "The Magic Paintbrush," "The Man Who Moved Mountains" and "Li Chi." Then, we boiled them down into ten-part sections with the help of Heather Lehr, a Hollywood writer, making the stories understandable and enticing to the player as he progresses through each tile layout.

Each teaches something about human nature - I won't spoil it for you, but the stories grapple with important considerations like deceit, love, kindness to strangers, and determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Then, we set about illustrating each story. Each background image was drawn by hand to give it that authentic look. We really wanted people to feel like they were visiting a wise old person who was proudly showing off an ancient, priceless hand-drawn book of traditional tales. You can't beat having paper translated directly to the screen to get that effect.

The PS3's sheer graphical power was the perfect fit for these images. Just knowing that there was that look and feel that we wanted to achieve, and that the PS3 would help us do it, meant that we never had to consider any style but the one we used...the vision, artistry and technology all came together smoothly.

There you have it. I hope this gives you a little peek inside the Ancient Tales portion of Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom. Don't forget, though, that that is just one gameplay mode available; there are two entirely different modes out there that I haven't even touched upon: Motion mode ("action Mahjong," complete with wild power-ups and crazy-fast mechanics) and a level editor planned for building and sharing levels via PSN, along with a whole pile of pre-made levels from Yours Truly. I'll leave the possibilities to your imagination for the moment. More PlayStation 3 News...