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TurboGrafx Network • View topic - Nat's thoughts about the Duo's Shanghai series

Nat's thoughts about the Duo's Shanghai series

PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 discussion

Nat's thoughts about the Duo's Shanghai series

Postby nat » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:57 am

Shanghai
For what's essentially a launch title, Shanghai brings the goods. It's lean, it's mean, and Shanghai lovers will find all the essentials here. The first game was a collaboration between Activision and Hudson Soft. You probably don't care, but I mention it for a reason I'll touch on later.

* Music is impressive chip fare, all of it very fitting and atmospheric. You have a choice of 3 different heavily Asian-inspired tunes to match tiles to. For a cart that came out in '87, the no-frills soundtrack still holds up technically well against many later titles.

* Graphics are also no-frills, but they get the job done and are crisp, clear, and easy to read. Unfortunately the background is a never-changing green color, but it's pretty non-descript and inoffensive.

* Gameplay is classic Shanghai action. The first installment lets you choose between 3 different tilesets. You can access the in-game menus at any time and an on-screen counter informs you of how many tiles you have left to clear. There is also a "HINT" option in the in-game menu in case you get stuck, but only dirty cheaters would use that.

* Somebody had the brilliant idea to create a patch that translates the in-game menus because, you know, Shanghai is extremely text-heavy. Either way, the patch is out there, and if you've got a flash cart for your Turbo there really isn't any reason NOT to download the patch and play the game with English menus.


Shanghai II
Part 2 is an upgrade in every way over part 1, including the format, being on CD-ROM and all. Part 2 was also a collaboration between Activision and Hudson. I've found Shanghai II to be the pinnacle of Shanghai gaming on the Duo.

* Music is just as great as in part 1, except here you're treated to even more tunes, and they're all redbook.

* Graphics are a step up over part 1; the gameboards play in the Turbo's higher resolution so everything is even clearer & crisper than part 1. More green backgrounds, but you're treated to nice dragon stills between boards.

* You have the option to choose between 6 different tile layouts. Good stuff. Also a choice between 4 different tilesets. The configurability of Shanghai II is seemingly endless, from 4 selectable difficulty levels, to various timed game modes in addition to the standard "story mode."


Shanghai III: Dragon's Eye
The series finale, Shanghai III was a collaboration between Activision and..... "ASK KODANSHA". Don't ask me who the fuck "ASK KODANSHA" is, but there's probably a good reason we haven't heard of them. Shanghai III is a pile of trash compared to part 2, and yes, is even inferior in most ways to part 1. I'm a little puzzled if part 3 is even a part of the same series; it certainly doesn't feel like it.

* Music is alright, probably the only thing III doesn't royally fuck up. Like II, it's a redbook soundtrack of Asian-inspired themes.

* Graphics are downright awful compared to both this game's predecessors. Gone is the high resolution smoothness, and in it's place are chunky, pixelated and extremely low-res-looking tiles. We're talking 8-bit or even pre-8-bit lookin' shit here. It's just astonishing how inferior III looks and feels compared to the first two.

* I didn't spend very long with III before turning it off in disgust, but from what I was able to figure out, there is virtually no configurability. Screenshots indicate a simultaneous multi-player mode which seems wholly superfluous in a game as shitty as this.

* The real kicker is that III is the most expensive of the bunch. I was lucky enough to pick it up on sale from Wolfgames for only $9, but the sad reality is the game isn't worth more than $3, tops. Let me save you all the trouble-- casual Shanghai fans need only spring for part 2 and be done with it. It's clear Hudson did the development on the previous two titles with a license from Activision.

PC-FX owners can find the ultimate Shanghai experience in Shanghai: The Great Wall-- simply the most expansive Shanghai game I've ever played. It makes all three Duo titles look like cell phone games.
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Re: Nat's thoughts about the Duo's Shanghai series

Postby runinruder » Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:07 am

The series finale, Shanghai III was a collaboration between Activision and..... "ASK KODANSHA". Don't ask me who the fuck "ASK KODANSHA" is, but there's probably a good reason we haven't heard of them.


They did Necros, which is actually pretty good. Maybe they should've stuck with RPGs that have wild battle scenes. :)
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Re: Nat's thoughts about the Duo's Shanghai series

Postby Keranu » Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:03 am

I wasn't even aware of a Shanghai III, bummer that it sucks. I still really need to get Shanghai II, I'm eager to seeing what it's like. I love the original Shanghai on PCE, mostly because of the crack-like addiction of the music! My only complaint is that the cursor feels a little stiff on a d-pad, though if I recall the game does support the mouse. Man, I might have to get the mouse just to really experience Shanghai!
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Re: Nat's thoughts about the Duo's Shanghai series

Postby nat » Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:31 am

Keranu wrote:I wasn't even aware of a Shanghai III


You're probably better off still pretending it doesn't.

I still really need to get Shanghai II, I'm eager to seeing what it's like.


Shanghai II destroys the other two in every way, although...

I love the original Shanghai on PCE, mostly because of the crack-like addiction of the music!


...I, too, have a peculiar fondness for the music in part 1. Chiptunes at their best, and in 1987, no less.

My only complaint is that the cursor feels a little stiff on a d-pad, though if I recall the game does support the mouse. Man, I might have to get the mouse just to really experience Shanghai!


Haha, I had no idea it supported the mouse. I haven't had any qualms using the D-pad, but if these games do actually support the mouse, I might just nab the next mouse I see cheap.
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Re: Nat's thoughts about the Duo's Shanghai series

Postby Keranu » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:21 am

Hmm according to this thread on PCEFX, they aren't listed for mouse support :( . He didn't include regular CD-ROM2 games though, so I'm still hoping Shanghai II does.
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Re: Nat's thoughts about the Duo's Shanghai series

Postby esteban » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:51 am

Awesome thread. I don't have any of the Shanghai games, and I probably wouldn't have considered getting any of them, except.... now that I've read all this wonderful stuff, I totally want to check out Shanghai: Book I & II.

Tangent: are there any Dominoes games out there (on consoles)? I guess "tiles" triggered this tangent.
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