Who remembers Shanghai, the original mahjong solitaire game?
Come on, hands up. Who remembers the original mahjong solitaire game Shanghai? Whether you know it or not may largely be down to how old you are. Back in the 1980s, Shanghai was one of the most popular matching tile games on the planet.
The computer game mahjong solitaire was invented in 1981 by Brodie Lockard. It was originally named Mah-Jongg. The game was launched on the PLATO system. But the game’s immense popularity came from its release in 1986 on numerous computers and consoles, including the IBM Personal Computer, Macintosh, Amiga, and Commodore 64, after Activision renamed the game Shanghai. The Shanghai mahjong solitaire game was also released as an arcade game in 1988 by Sunsoft. Shanghai was an immensely incredible success. It is thought to have sold more than ten million copies across different platforms. And you know what? The game is just as good today as it was back in the 1980s.
Do not confuse the tile game mahjong with mahjong solitaire. The two are completely different games. Mahjong was first developed in China in the nineteenth century. It soon spread to the rest of the world, and popular variations of the game were developed in South Korea and Japan. Today, you can play オンライン麻雀 (online Mahjong) anywhere and anytime with your smartphone. You might be able to track down the Shanghai mahjong solitaire game online as well. The one thing the two games have in common, and why they share a similar name, is they both use a full set of 144 mahjong tiles, which include images of dragons, bamboos, flowers, seasons, dots, characters, and winds.
So, how do you play Shanghai? It basically works like this. You are presented with stacked mahjong tiles. The object is to remove all of the tiles from the gaming area by matching pairs. However, you can only match tiles that have one or more vertical edge free on a turn. Also, any tiles that show two seasons or two flowers can form a pair. You lose if you run out of moves and win if you manage to remove all of the tiles from the board.
It is the fact that the tiles are stacked that makes the gameplay so interesting and complex because a tile can only be removed when not obstructed by another tile. Therefore, the strategy part of the game largely comes down to the order in which you remove the tiles. You will need to think a few moves ahead. There are also many subtleties to the game that you will learn as you go along. You can have countless hours of fun playing Shanghai mahjong solitaire because there are innumerable ways for the tiles to be stacked, which in turn leads to infinite variations of gameplay. When you finally win a round of Shanghai, the screen collapses and you get to see a dragon’s blinking eye. And in the Master System and Mac version, there is an animated dragon spitting fire.
In 1986, the respected magazine Computer Gaming World called Shanghai “probably the best game of the year,” and in 1996, the magazine named it as the 146th best computer game ever released. The arcade version of Shanghai received some serious praise too. In Japan in 1988, Game Machine magazine listed it as one of the most successful arcade units of the month. If you have not yet played Shanghai mahjong solitaire, it is about time you did to find out what all the fuss is about.