Shanghai (video game)

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HAL Laboratory (Game Boy)
Sunsoft (arcade)
Sunsoft (arcade)
Programmer(s)Brodie Lockard
Composer(s)Tomotsune Maeno (PCE)
Platform(s)Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Arcade, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, FM Towns, Game Boy, Macintosh, MSX, NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, NES, Master System, PC Engine, Sharp X1, X68000, TRS-80 Color Computer, TurboGrafx-16, Lynx
ReleaseJuly 1986
Genre(s)Mahjong solitaire
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Shanghai is a computerized version of mahjong solitaire published by Activision in 1986 for the Amiga, Atari ST, Atari 8-bit family, Commodore 64, DOS, Macintosh, Apple IIGS and Master System. Shanghai was originally programmed by Brodie Lockard.[1] It was released as an arcade game by Sunsoft in 1988.


The game uses a full set of 144 mahjong tiles, divided as follows:

  • Dots (1 through 9)
  • Bamboos (1 through 9)
  • Characters (1 through 9)
  • Winds (north, east, south, west)
  • Dragons (red, green, white)
  • Seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter)
  • Flowers (bamboo, plum, orchid, chrysanthemum)

There are four of every tile except for the seasons and flowers, which have only one tile each.

The object of the game is to remove all the tiles from the board by matching pairs, but only tiles with at least one free vertical edge may be matched on a turn. Any two seasons can form a pair, as can any two flowers. The game ends if no legal moves can be made.

After winning a game, a portion of the screen collapses to reveal a dragon blinking an eye.[1] The Macintosh and Master System versions show an animated dragon spitting fire.[citation needed]


Shanghai sold more than 500,000 copies by 1991.[11] In Japan, Game Machine listed Sunsoft's version of Shanghai on their May 1, 1988, issue as being the fourth most-successful table arcade unit of the month;[12] it ended the year as Japan's ninth highest-grossing arcade conversion kit of 1988.[13]

In 1996, Computer Gaming World declared Shanghai the 146th-best computer game ever released.[14]

Critical reviews[edit]

Computer Gaming World in December 1986 published varying opinions. Gregg Williams stated, "I couldn't believe [Activision] had wasted their resources on putting it out",[15] while Charles Ardai called it "probably the best game of the year".[16] Roy Wagner reviewed the game for Computer Gaming World, and stated that "on the C64, the patterns and stacks are hard to discern (soon your eyes match the screen). On the Amiga the display is outstanding with the pieces actually looking very much like colorful, ivory tiles".[17] Info gave the Amiga version four-plus stars out of five, stating "this program ought to be illegal. It is impossible to play 'just one game'". Describing gameplay as "swift and deceptively simple", the magazine warned "plan on spending a LOT of time with this one".[18] It gave the Commodore 64 version three-plus stars out of five, describing Shanghai as "fanatically addictive". While criticizing the user interface and graphics, the magazine concluded that the players will find it hard to quit.[19] Compute! reviewed the game favorably, reporting that "our Shanghai mania is of such proportions that I am beginning to fear for our health".[20] In 1988, Dragon gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[1]

Atari Lynx[edit]

Dragon magazine gave the Atari Lynx version 5 stars in their May 1992 issue.[7] Robert Jung of IGN gave the game a score of 10 out of 10 in his review.[8] Computer and Video Games magazine reviewed the game in their March 1991 issue giving an 84% score.[5]



A sequel, Shanghai II, was released by Sun Electronics (Sunsoft) for Japanese arcades in March 1989. It was Japan's twelfth highest-grossing arcade conversion kit of 1992.[22]

Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye was published in 1990 for MS-DOS.[23] Ports were released for Macintosh, Apple IIGS, FM Towns, MSX, PC-98, Sharp X68000, Windows, Sega Genesis, and Super NES. The Genesis version was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in the PAL regions on November 27, 2009, and in North America on January 11, 2010, which was later delisted at the end of 2013.

Other sequels include:


  1. ^ a b c d Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (October 1988). "The Role of Computers" (PDF). Dragon (138): 70–75.
  2. ^ Knight, Kyle. "Shanghai (Atari Lynx) – Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  3. ^ Sutyak, Jonathan (1998). "Shanghai (Sega Master System) – Review". All Game Guide. Archived from the original on November 15, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Denk(-)mal". Aktueller Software Markt (in German). March 1987. pp. 66–7.
  5. ^ a b "Bytesize Atari Lynx". CVG Magazine. No. 112. March 1991. p. 71. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  6. ^ "Complete Games Guide" (PDF). Computer and Video Games (Complete Guide to Consoles): 46–77. October 16, 1989.
  7. ^ a b Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (May 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (181): 57–62.
  8. ^ a b Jung, Robert A. (July 6, 1999). "An excellent version of Shanghai, preserving all of the charm of the original game – and more". IGN. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  9. ^ Hetherington, Tony (March 1987). "Shanghai". Commodore User. p. 50.
  10. ^ "Mean Machines". Computer and Video Games. No. 87. January 1989. pp. 140–1.
  11. ^ Emrich, Alan (February 1991). "A Good Deal, Better / Activision's Shanghai II". Computer Gaming World. p. 10. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  12. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 – テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 331. Amusement Press, Inc. May 1, 1988. p. 23.
  13. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25: '88 / "Game of the Year '88" By Game Machine" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 348. Amusement Press, Inc. January 15, 1989. pp. 10–1, 26.
  14. ^ Staff (November 1996). "150 Best (and 50 Worst) Games of All Time". Computer Gaming World. No. 148. pp. 63–65, 68, 72, 74, 76, 78, 80, 84, 88, 90, 94, 98.
  15. ^ Williams, Gregg (December 1986). "Hacker II". Computer Gaming World. p. 18.
  16. ^ Ardai, Charles (December 1986). "Year in Review". Computer Gaming World. p. 20.
  17. ^ Wagner, Roy (January–February 1987). "Commodore Key". Computer Gaming World. Vol. 1, no. 34. p. 39.
  18. ^ Dunnington, Benn; Brown, Mark R.; Malcolm, Tom (January–February 1987). "Amiga Gallery". Info. pp. 90–95.
  19. ^ Dunnington, Benn; Brown, Mark R.; Malcolm, Tom (January–February 1987). "64/128 Gallery". Info. pp. 14–21.
  20. ^ Bobo, Ervin (February 1987). "Shanghai". Compute!. p. 32. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
  21. ^ "Jeux & stratégie 44". April 1987.
  22. ^ "Overseas Readers Column: "SF II", "Exhaust Note" Top Videos '92" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 441. Amusement Press, Inc. January 1–15, 1993. p. 36.
  23. ^ "These Just In". Now Playing. Computer Gaming World. August 1994. pp. 152–156.
  24. ^ "Best Videos '94: "Puyo Puyo", "Ridge Racer" DX" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 487. Amusement Press, Inc. January 1–15, 1995. p. 36.
  25. ^ ""Virtua Fighter 2" and "Virtua Cop" Top Videos" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 511. Amusement Press, Inc. February 1, 1996. p. 22.

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