Shanghai (video game)

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Shanghai video game cover.jpg
Composer(s)PC Engine
Tomotsune Maeno
Platform(s)Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, FM Towns, Game Boy, Macintosh, MS-DOS, MSX, NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, NES, Master System, PC Engine, Sharp X1, X68000, TRS-80 Color Computer, TurboGrafx, Lynx
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, IBM PC, Macintosh, Apple IIGS and Master System. Shanghai was originally programmed by Brodie Lockard.[1]


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. However, 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 the blinking eye of a dragon.[1] The Macintosh and Master System versions show an animated dragon spitting fire.[citation needed]


Shanghai sold more than 500,000 copies by 1991.[2] 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",[3] while Charles Ardai called it "probably the best game of the year".[4] 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."[5] 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".[6] 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 "you'll find it hard to quit".[7] Compute! reviewed the game favorably, reporting that "our Shanghai mania is of such proportions that I am beginning to fear for our health".[8] In 1988, Dragon gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[1]

In Japan, Game Machine listed Shanghai on their May 1, 1988 issue as being the fourth most-successful table arcade unit of the year.[9]

In 1996, Computer Gaming World declared Shanghai the 146th-best computer game ever released.[10]

Atari Lynx[edit]

Dragon Magazine also gave the Atari Lynx version 5 stars in their May 1992 issue.[11] Robert Jung of IGN gave the game a score of 10 out of 10 in his review.[12] CVG Magazine reviewed the game in their March 1991 issue giving a score of 84 out of 100.[13]



A sequel, Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye, was published in 1990 for MS-DOS.[14] Ports were released for Macintosh, 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.



  1. ^ a b c Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (October 1988). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (138): 70–75.
  2. ^ Emrich, Alan (February 1991). "A Good Deal, Better / Activision's Shanghai II". Computer Gaming World. p. 10. Retrieved 17 November 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Williams, Gregg (December 1986). "Hacker II". Computer Gaming World. p. 18.
  4. ^ Ardai, Charles (December 1986). "Year in Review". Computer Gaming World. p. 20.
  5. ^ Wagner, Roy (January–February 1987). "Commodore Key". Computer Gaming World. 1 (34): 39.
  6. ^ Dunnington, Benn; Brown, Mark R.; Malcolm, Tom (January–February 1987). "Amiga Gallery". Info. pp. 90–95.
  7. ^ Dunnington, Benn; Brown, Mark R.; Malcolm, Tom (January–February 1987). "64/128 Gallery". Info. pp. 14–21.
  8. ^ Bobo, Ervin (February 1987). "Shanghai". Compute!. p. 32. Retrieved 9 November 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "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. 1 May 1988. p. 23.
  10. ^ Staff (November 1996). "150 Best (and 50 Worst) Games of All Time". Computer Gaming World (148): 63–65, 68, 72, 74, 76, 78, 80, 84, 88, 90, 94, 98.
  11. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (May 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (181): 57–62.
  12. ^ Jung, Robert A. (6 July 1999). "An excellent version of Shanghai, preserving all of the charm of the original game -- and more". IGN. Retrieved 28 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Bytesize Atari Lynx". No. 112. CVG Magazine. March 1991. p. 71. Retrieved 28 March 2018. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "These Just In". Now Playing. Computer Gaming World. August 1994. pp. 152–156.

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