Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye is a surprisingly basic version of solitaire mahjongg. With very few options or customizable features, the two game modules included offer little more in the way of gameplay than the traditional tile game.
Shanghai is the familiar form of mahjongg with different layouts and tile sets -- you simply match the tiles. While some effort went into the design of various sets, the basic tiles are still the easiest to play. Although the animations in the Animals and Sports sets are a bit more interesting, they seem a bit pointless considering the traditional flavor of the game. None of the tile sets add or detract from gameplay -- usage is just a matter of visual preference.
The different layouts can provide different challenges, though, but penalization for having to reshuffle tiles when no viable matches remain isn't one of them -- you simply win every time if you use the shuffle feature. The reward for winning a game is a silly fortune-cookie style message, usually with little substance. The inclusion of the extra layouts is simply not a factor -- they could have just as easily been left out and no one would be the wiser (or care).
The option to create your own tile layouts is a nice feature but doing so can be time intensive and most end up being either too easy or too hard. Anyone with the time, patience and creativity to puzzle out good layouts could find the feature to be worthwhile but most casual players will find it only an interesting distraction for a short time.
Dragon's Eye, the second game module, is infuriating and poorly designed with little thought to gameplay. While the premise is easy and you can choose to play either side, the computer AI seems to be able to do all sorts of moves that seem fairly improbable. Gameplay is slow and uninteresting and not particularly easy to understand initially. Until you get the hang of it, the game is frustrating and, even when learned, not much fun.
Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye has a few nice features but nothing stands out when compared to similar games. The novelty factor wears off quickly and there's no lasting impression. It's simply too simple with not enough innovation or gameplay.
Graphics: The graphics are well designed but not inspired or interesting.
Sound: The basic, standard sound effects add nothing to gameplay.
Enjoyment: Standard mahjongg is always enjoyable but the Dragon's Eye module offers nothing substantial.
Replay Value: Mahjongg enthusiasts may want to play repeatedly but the scope is limited as in most solitaire tile or card games.
Shanghai II is Activison's follow-up to their first tile matching game. Players try to remove Mah Jong tiles in pairs from a set pattern. Shanghai II has 8 different tile sets, 12 patterns based on the animals of the Chinese zodiac, and a layout editor for creating patterns.
In addition to the standard game, Shanghai II also features "Dragon's eye" a 2-player Shanghai varriant. Players take turns adding and removing tiles from a small field with one player attempting to remove all the tiles and the other trying to position tiles to make this impossible.
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