Shanghai (video game)

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The Western PC box art.

Shanghai is a mahjong solitaire puzzle video game developed by Brodie Lockard and published by Activision initially for the Macintosh Classic in July 1986, and then ported to 20 other platforms. This was the first commercial game in the Shanghai series, and the first video game to popularize mahjong solitaire in the West, as it sold extremely well and resulted in a large number of sequels. The Lynx port is different enough to be treated as a different game.

Shanghai was made almost entirely by Brodie Lockard. He took his earlier game, Mah-Jongg (written in TUTOR for the PLATO), and ported it to the Macintosh Classic in C. He updated his original art, but included the derpy dragon. Activision bought the finished product and only modified some of the screens to put their brand on it. They also used a highly weighted contract cheating Lockard out of his copyright for the game. All the other ports were made by various developers. The first couple ports used Lockard's thicker borders idea to simulate depth, but, after the Amiga port added a raised 3-D visual effect, Lockard updated the Macintosh version to include the effect, and subsequent ports also made use of the effect.


While perusing the Master System library, I saw this game. I knew it was a mahjong solitaire game 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 was just the basic game. The next day, curious to see how the home computer ports fared, I played and beat the Apple IIgs version. I later beat the TurboGrafx-16 port on 2022-09-20, the Amstrad CPC port on 2023-08-18, and the NES port on 2023-09-03.

I don't own this game.


Video Game Review Icon - Enjoyment.png Video Game Review Icon - Control.png Video Game Review Icon - Appearance.png Video Game Review Icon - Sound.png Video Game Review Icon - Replayability.png
3 4 4 4 6

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 fitting Chinese-inspired music like those for the Master System, NES, and PC Engine.
  • The better ports have enjoyable ending animations.
  • The PC Engine port includes a multi-player mode where each player has only a limited time to find a match.


  • 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, Macintosh, 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.
  • Only the NES port has good music. Most don't feature background music while playing, a lot don't have 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, by the time the last ports came out in 1990, they should have expanded the game, especially since the superior hardware could handle more.
  • The MS-DOS and PCjr ports have really bad controls. They don't support a mouse, and, without a joystick, keyboard movement is painfully slow.


Box Art




Longplay - Master System.
Longplay - NES.
Longplay - PC Engine.
Longplay - Sharp X68000.
Game play - Amiga.
Game play - Apple II.
Game play - Apple IIgs.
Game play - Atari 8-bit.
Game play - Atari ST.
Game play - Commodore 64.
Game play - Macintosh.
Game play - MS-DOS.
Game play - MSX2.
Game play - PC98.
Game play - TRS CoCo.
Game play - Sharp X1.


Strong female character?FailThere are no characters.
Bechdel test?FailThere are no characters.
Strong person of color character?FailThere are no characters.
Queer character?FailThere are no characters.


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