What is Shanghai?

The game Shanghai, and its sequels, use Mah-Jongg tiles in an easy-to-learn yet difficult-to-master solitaire play pattern. Shanghai has become an addiction for hundreds of thousands of players all over the world. While it's possible to play Shanghai with actual Mah-Jongg tiles, the mighty memory and computing power of personal computers provide numerous features that add enormously to the fun and the ease of playing. Shanghai was originally created in 1986 for Activision by Brodie Lockard.

-- These Chinese characters spell out the name of the city of Shanghai - the name means "upper sea." This city has long evoked an aura of mystery, danger, and high adventure; that's why its name was chosen for the game.

The game of Shanghai is a game of strategy, memory, and luck. There are 144 tiles, arranged in one of several layouts. There are four of each tile, which can be removed as two matching pairs.

To remove a pair of tiles during the game, simply select the two tiles you want. To select a tile, click on it with the mouse. If it's free to be removed, it will become highlighted. Selecting a matching free tile removes the pair.

When you clear all the tiles from the screen, you have won - and a special reward sequence occurs. It's that simple. But wait - because there are four of each tile, you may well find yourself stuck, with unmatchable tiles blocking other key tiles so you can't clear the screen. As you play, you form winning strategies. And because of the magic of computers, you can undo previous matches and try to find any mistakes, shuffle the remaining tiles, put them all back to the way they were at the beginning so you can try again, and other abilities not available with real Mah-Jongg tiles.

The game of Mah-Jongg has very interesting roots, and many legends about the game abound. It is said that the game evolved from other games played in ancient China. These games were played with cards somewhat similar in appearance to the tiles used in Mah-Jongg today. In 1920, Mah-Jongg was introduced to the Western world by Joseph P. Babcock. Babcock brought the game to the United States by writing a printed list of simplified rules and by adding Arabic numerals to the tiles, allowing them to be more easily read by those unfamiliar with Chinese characters. Today, Mah-Jongg's popularity continues stronger than ever.

What's New?

Shanghai: Second Dynasty introduces several new aspects to the game of Shanghai. An old favorite has been brought back with an added dimension. Power Tiles have been added to create Power Dragon's Eye. Dragon's Eye is a classic for the Shanghai player. We've added an entirely new dimension to the game by adding Power Tiles. When two Jokers are matched by the Dragon Slayer in Power Dragon's Eye, one of a number of unexpected twists will occur. A player who was sorely losing and ready to give up can suddenly have the upper hand. An over-confident player can suddenly be thrust into a difficult and challenging game.

An exciting new version of the classic Shanghai tile-matching game is called Windstorm. Traditionally, tiles are only available for matching in Shanghai if they can slide freely left or right. In Windstorm, tiles are free to be matched depending on the prevailing wind. If the prevailing wind is East/West, tiles can only be matched if they can slide left or right. If the prevailing wind is North/South, tiles can only be matched if they can slide freely up or down. Or a windstorm might occur, and tiles can be matched if they can slide freely left/right or up/down. The prevailing wind or a windstorm changes depending on the tiles matched.

Arcade Mode is another new addition to Shanghai: Second Dynasty. Arcade Mode consists of a series of 25 games. A time limit is imposed to clear the classic Shanghai layout in each game. The time gauge visibly decreases, and is visibly increased when a pair is removed. Speedier game play further impacts the time gauge. In addition, there is a scoring system which rewards speedy play. Matching Winds, Dragons, Flowers, and Terminals earn more points than matching Simples.

There are several new Shanghai tile sets and layouts in Shanghai: Second Dynasty that are made especially for kids. The Kids' game in Shanghai: Second Dynasty provides an opportunity for fun and learning for the whole family. One of the tile sets made especially for kids helps children to perfect their arithmetic. Other sets require a logical matching of similar objects. The Kids' layouts are smaller, consisting of 72 or fewer tiles, which are easier for young children.

Shanghai: Second Dynasty now includes American Mah-Jongg as well as the standard Chinese, Western and modern Japanese versions. Mah-Jongg is a game of four players, similar to Rummy. The first player to build a complete valid hand of fourteen tiles wins. It may seem like a very complicated game at first, but playing a few games of Mah-Jongg against computer opponents will get you hooked. Shanghai: Second Dynasty's Mah-Jongg game now includes the new ability to manually sort the tiles in your hand. You can view the tiles from four different camera angles in Shanghai: Second Dynasty. Press the arrow keys on your keyboard to change the camera angle - now you can look down into all of the nooks and crannies of the layout.

A feature included in Shanghai: Second Dynasty is the Right-Click (Macintosh users: Ctrl-Click) Help: you instantly get information on a tile when you right-click on it (you'll see the name of the tile and its status - what you can do with it). This feature will not only help you to learn the names of the dinosaurs in the Prehistoric tile set, for example, but it can also give you extra help by telling you if that tile is free or not.

We've added Internet play to Shanghai, not only for Dynasty and Pandamonium, but also for Power Dragon's Eye and the four Mah-Jongg games. Gamers with an Internet connection can connect with other folks around the world for challenging play (Windows 95 version only). And the Custom Tiles feature allows you to import your own custom tile sets.

Next chapter:

Classic Shanghai