Shanghai (video game)
Shanghai is a mahjong solitaire puzzle video game developed and published by Activision initially for the Macintosh Classic in July 1986, and then ported to 20 other platforms. This was the first game in the Shanghai series and the first popular mahjong solitaire game to be released in the West. However, since both the name "Shanghai" and mahjong solitaire are in the public domain, several clones have been by different companies which use the same title and play the same game, but are unrelated to this release.
While perusing the Master System library, I saw this game. I knew it was a mahjong solitaire game from its title, and was curious to see what it had going for it. I played it until I beat it on 2022-02-10 and discovered, sadly, it had nothing more going for it than the basics. The next day, curious to see how the home computer ports fared, I played and beat the Apple IIgs version.
I don't own this game, but have beaten the Apple IIgs and Master System ports.
Best Version: FM Towns
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The game competently enforces the rules of mahjong solitaire.
- For the 16-bit ports, the graphics are attractive. For the some of the 8-bit ports, they're passable.
- Several of the ports have nice Chinese-inspired music including for the Lynx, Master System, NES, and PC Engine.
- The better ports have enjoyable ending animations.
- The game deals the tiles out randomly. While this is true to the original game, it results in a large percentage of games being impossible to win. Later adaptions take advantage of the using a computer to deal the tiles in matched pairs ensuring that every game is beatable (provided you make all the right moves).
- Some of the ports don't simulate the 3D raised effect of the tiles which makes them much harder to play (Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, NES, PCjr ports), while others do it very poorly (Apple II, Commodore 64). Also, some ports have such a low resolution, the tiles are difficult to read.
- Some ports don't feature background music while playing. A lot don't even feature music at all.
- For nearly every port, the game is just the most basic possible version of mahjong solitaire. It has only the standard turtle layout with no other options. To make an American analogy, it would be like buying a solitaire game and having it only feature standard Klondike solitaire with no other different game styles. This probably would have been acceptable in the West in 1986 when the game first came out since so few would have been familiar with mahjong solitaire, but, but the time the later ports came out, they should have expanded the game, especially since they had better hardware to work with.
- The MS-DOS and PCjr ports have really bad controls. If you don't have a joystick, keyboard movement is painfully slow, and they don't support a mouse.
This box features two Chinese peasants playing mahjong solitaire, which is odd since it's a single-player game. At least it accurately depicts what the game will be like. It was used on most Western PCs: Apple II, Apple IIgs, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Macintosh Classic, MS-DOS, TRS-80 CoCo. This is my favorite art.
- segaretro.org/Shanghai - Sega Retro.