From Sega Retro


Shanghai title.png

System(s): Sega Master System
Publisher: Sega
Licensor: Activision
Peripherals supported: FM Sound Unit
Genre: Family[1]

Number of players: 2
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Master System
Sega Master System
Sega Master System
£22.9522.95[4] 5110
Sega Master System
Sega Master System
Non-Sega versions

Shanghai is a mahjong solitaire game developed by Activision for various home computer systems, and converted and published by Sega for the Sega Master System.


Shanghai SMS, Gameplay.png


The object of the game is to remove all the tiles from the board by matching pairs. There are 144 tiles, which are arranged in a five-level pyramid called the "Dragon Formation" (also called a "turtle"). When two tiles are matched, they are removed from the board, exposing any tiles underneath for play. Any two seasons can form a pair, as can any two flowers, while other tiles must be matched with an identical counterpart.

Only tiles with at least one free vertical edge (meaning tiles with a free space to the left or right of them) may be matched on a turn. It is possible to remove the tiles in the wrong order and end up with an unwinnable game because there are no more matching pairs that meet this requirement. To be consistently successful, the player should strategize removing tiles that open more tiles for matching and avoid removing tiles that do not open anything (unless there are no other possible matches). The game is won when all pairs of tiles have been removed from the board or lost if no more valid moves can be made. A counter shows how many tiles are remaining, and a timer shows how long the player has taken on the current game or how much time is remaining (depending on the mode).

The game uses a cursor, which is moved using the D-Pad. The player can select a tile with 2 or cancel a selection with 1. Tiles can only be selected if they have no other tiles on top of them and a free space to either side of them. When one tile has been selected, a second tile can only be selected if it is a valid match. Pressing 2 again when two tiles are selected confirms the match and removes the tiles.

There are two menus at the top of the screen that can be selected by the cursor: Help and Game. The Help menu contains items to identify any tile, undo the last move, show all possible moves (one at a time), "peek" at covered tiles by removing tiles from the board (which requires ending the game), or change the music (between three tunes). The Game menu contains items to restart the current game or start a new game in one of the three game modes.


There are three game modes:

  • Solitaire: A single-player mode. The player has the option of starting with a random pattern or loading one of a dozen predetermined patterns. The shape of the formation is the same for every pattern, but the arrangement of the tiles differs.
  • Tournament: A mode for multiple players to compete, where each player takes turns playing a game, sharing the same control pad. After a player completes a game (either in victory or defeat), the next game starts using the same pattern (arrangement of tiles). In between games, the best five scores are shown. Players can choose a time limit of 5, 10, or 20 minutes or no time limit for each game.
  • Challenge: A two-player mode, where each player takes turns making a move on the same board, using separate control pads. Each player has a limited amount of time (5, 10, 20, 30, or 60 seconds) to complete a turn and tries to remove more tiles than the other player. The number of tiles removed for each player is shown at the top of the screen.

The game starts in the Solitaire mode initially, but a new game can be started in one of the other modes through the Game menu at the top of the screen. The two multiplayer modes lack the menu options to undo moves, show all possible moves, peek at covered tiles, or restart the current game.


Shanghai SMS, Tiles.png
The Suit of Dots
A suit using dots or coins to represent the numerals 1 through 9.
Shanghai SMS, Tiles.png
The Suit of Bam
A suit using a peacock to represent 1 and bamboo shoots to represent 2 through 9.
Shanghai SMS, Tiles.png
The Suit of Crak
A suit using Chinese numerals to represent 1 through 9. The character on the bottom is 萬, representing ten thousand.
Shanghai SMS, Tiles.png
The Dragons
The Red Dragon, the White Dragon, and the Green Dragon.
Shanghai SMS, Tiles.png
The Winds
The North Wind, the South Wind, the East Wind, and the West Wind.
Shanghai SMS, Tiles.png
The Seasons
Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Any two seasons can form a pair.
Shanghai SMS, Tiles.png
The Flowers
Orchid, Plum, Mum, and Bamboo. Any two flowers can form a pair.

Production credits

Title screen
Shanghai title.png


Magazine articles

Main article: Shanghai/Magazine articles.

Promotional materials

SMS DE TV advert (1989)

Physical scans

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
{{{{{icon}}}|L}} Division by zero.
Based on
0 review
Sega Retro Average 
Publication Version Score
Complete Guide to Consoles (UK) PAL
Complete Guide to Consoles (UK)
The Complete Guide to Sega (UK) PAL
Console XS (UK) PAL
Computer & Video Games (UK) PAL
Game Mania (UK) PAL
Hobby Consolas (ES) PAL
Micromanía (segunda época) (ES)
Mean Machines Sega (UK)
Power Play (DE) PAL
S: The Sega Magazine (UK) PAL
Sega Power (UK) PAL
Sega Pro (UK)
Sega Pro (UK) PAL
User (GR) PAL
Sega Master System
Based on
16 reviews


Master System, US
Shanghai US cover.jpg
Shanghai sms us manual.pdf
Master System, EU
Shanghai EU cover.jpg
Master System, EU (Sega®)
Shanghai SMS EU Box R.jpg
Master System, EU ("No Limits")
Shanghai EU nolimits cover.jpg
Master System, SE

Master System, AU (Not for rental/hotline stickers)
Shanghai SMS AU back.jpgNospine.pngShanghai SMS AU cover.jpg
Shanghai SMS AU cartback.jpgShanghai SMS AU cart.jpg
Master System, AU (OziSoft sticker)
Shanghai SMS AU os cover.jpg

Technical information

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
Sega Master System
CRC32 aab67ec3
MD5 f0595fbd334cb8e95c0486a588a24f7b
SHA-1 58f01556d1f2da0af9dfcddcb3ac26cb299220d3
128kB Cartridge (US/EU)


NEC Retro has more information related to Shanghai


Shanghai title.png

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Shanghai games for Sega systems
Sega Master System
Shanghai (1988)
Sega Game Gear
Shanghai II (1990)
Sega Mega Drive
Dragon's Eye Plus: Shanghai III (1991) | Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye (1994)
Sega Saturn
Shanghai: Triple-Threat (1995) | Game no Tetsujin The Shanghai (1995) | Shanghai Great Moments (1996)
Sega Dreamcast
Shanghai Dynasty (2000)
Super Shanghai 2005 (2005)