Shanghai II

Taking a breather from the FM77AV20EX disks to post about Shanghai II. Yes, Shanghai II. Two! I was going to spill into a diatribe about how Activision managed to make a sequel to a 1980s video game based on a thousands-years-old puzzle game, but then I did the research to find out when Shanghai as a puzzle game got its start, only to learn that it began very recently and is basically relegated to the computer world. Well, it would be hell to set up the pieces each time, so I can understand why.

And actually, it’s a relatively good sequel. The tile graphics didn’t change, but they added several different board layouts, and compared to the silent original, this game has a different background tune for each board. Here is the menu to select the screen and the six layouts: Tiger, Scorpion, Monkey, Snake, Panther, Dragon.

Luck was on my side tonight, I managed to win (actually, twice in a row). I played the “monkey” layout because I felt it had fewer free tiles to start with, making it more challenging to win. So here is the progression of how my game went: full set of tiles (144), 75%, 50%, 25%, 12.5%, and last 2 tiles.

And the winner screen of Shanghai II:

Despite the improvements, I wouldn’t have bought this game, already having the original for my Sharp X1 Turbo Z, but I wanted to get a couple of cheap games so I could check that my PC-8801 MA2 system was working well, so I got this one and Relics from the same seller and got them shipped together.

I only noticed this yesterday, but the NEC PC-8801 MA2 doesn’t have a joystick port. This seems really strange to me. I am sure there must have been some solution because every major competitor had joysticks available. But in any event, the original Shanghai on my X1 had three options: joystick, keyboard and mouse. This game had three options, too – NEC mouse, serial mouse, or keyboard. I’d played it with the keyboard until last night, when I decided to try my FM Towns mouse in the NEC mouse port, and it worked a treat! But the X1 mouse was a little unhappy about having its mousepad usurped.

My friend has a PC-98 series game controller, and it plugs into his keyboard port, which provides pass-through to the keyboard so both can be connected at the same time. Perhaps I need something like this, but I’ve never seen such a controller for the PC-8801 series.


I picked up this game for my PC-8801 MA2. I normally don’t want boxed games unless they are in very good condition, but this one was cheap, and I wanted a couple of cheap games to feel a little more confident that my system was working properly. So I went with this one.

Despite the rough condition of the box, the packaging is pretty charming. Check out that Styrofoam holder!

Here are some captures from the introduction. The graphics are blue-heavy, to be certain, but it is full of detail.

The game has the potential to be fun, or at least intriguing. I’ve always enjoyed the bizarre, and this indeed appears to be bizarre. I played around with it a little bit and thought it might be worth reading the manual, so I opened it up and it said something to the effect of “we’re not telling you how to play this game, you must explore and discover for yourself.” So I went back to the game and did just that. You start out as a spirit, and you can take over other bodies to become more powerful. You pick up items and explore the world, and that’s about all I’ve worked out so far.