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By Tom Sloper (トム•スローパー)
2008年 9月 14日
Column #380

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). A friend was thrift store hopping and saw a handheld electronic mahjong game in a display case. Knowing of my interest in all things mahjong, he emailed me and told me where to find the thrift store. He told me, "The brand name on the game is Contrast." Intrigued, I made the trek (75 miles round trip) and found the shop. The lady put batteries in it for me, but it didn't work properly. The display came on, but all the elements were dark. Beeping noises kept emitting from it, but because all the LCD elements were dark, there was no sense to be seen in what it was doing.

I told her it was defective, and wasn't worth the $17 price tag. I offered her $3. She tried going to $10 but I wasn't interested. She wasn't happy about it, but she gave it to me for the $3, plus tax, sans batteries.

So I took it home. I doubted that I'd be able to get it to work properly, but because I designed LCD games back in the early 1980s, I have a friend who might be able to help. I thought that perhaps the LCD was just slightly misaligned or something. Before calling my engineer friend, I examined the device more closely.

Printing on the front identifies the device's name in full as "LCD DOT MATRIX SYSTEM; PERFECT MAHJONG II パーフェクトマージャン." The paper label on the back uses a slightly different name: "LSI GAME YOUNG ADULT; PERFECT MAHJONG II." The label further identified the manufacturer as Bandai, and the year of manufacture as 1984. You can see more on the device at There was no box or manual. Examining the front, I finally noticed the "contrast" control. Hmm...

My friend had thought "Contrast" was the brand name, but I had a different theory. I put batteries in, turned it on, and adjusted the contrast control. Shoot! I gypped that lady. It does work. Perfectly. Darn, it would've been better to have given her her asking price. I considered driving back... naah. Too far.

To be continued...


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