Shanghai Great Moments has an excellent premise behind it, merging traditional solitaire Mahjongg with added educational elements. With tile sets that cover history and art as well as space exploration and romantic couples, the game seems to have a lot to share but, mostly, it's just frustrating to play.
While the basic tile set is straightforward, all the others are plagued by their small size. For some, like the Science Fiction and Events sets, it's not a significant problem since the pictures are fairly easy to match. In others, though, such as the People and Art sets, the tiles blur together making it very difficult to make matches. The Romance and Invention sets further complicate matters by allowing you to directly match individual tiles or their respective counterparts. In both cases, the images are so hard to decipher it's much easier to simply match the tiles directly.
The small animations and movies given as rewards for matching two tiles are initially fun but soon become annoying and make the game go much slower than necessary. Some of the sound effects are a bit frightening and loud and the animations are often quite poor. While these aspects seem to be included as an attempt to bring a more informational bent to the game, most of them are too short to really teach anything and many players won't know what's being represented unless they refer to the tile guide.
Fortunately, the animations and sound effects can be turned off -- certainly a welcome option after watching them repeatedly.
Of the four game types included, Classic Shanghai is the most familiar, providing alternate challenges with several different layouts. In the Great Wall, tiles fall as those beneath them are removed but, rather than enhancing gameplay, the element seems more of an annoyance. Action Shanghai is perhaps the most exciting but doesn't offer much more in gameplay than the normal version while Beijing, the most complex of the four, requires more strategy and is ultimately the most challenging and fun. All the variations, though, seem a bit pointless since, despite slight changes in the rules or board layout, they're basically interchangeable.
In two-player mode, opponents take turns and are given an arbitrary time limit to make a match. It's a nice addition but not particularly exciting. Other than the option to get hints, tournament mode simply isn't much different than normal gameplay. The great moments in Shanghai Great Moments are few and far between and, while some element of fun is present, gameplay isn't overly exciting.
Graphics: While some tile sets are decent looking, the overall quality isn't what it could be.
Sound: The sound effects become annoying and seem loud, even with the volume turned down.
Enjoyment: The games are basically fun but ultimately aren't much different than most other mahjongg games.
Replay Value: Only die-hard mahjongg fans will stick with it for prolonged bouts of play.
Shanghai is a puzzle game using MahJongg tiles where you slide available matching tiles off the stack to reveal more tiles. Slide all 144 tiles off the board and you win the game.
This game includes four versions of the classic Shanghai game: The Great Wall (Shanghai meets Tetris), Bejing (Slide rows to make matches, Action Shanghai (clear tiles quickly before more appear) and Classic Shanghai (either regular or face down for an extra challenge).
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