In case you've been living in a cave in Nebraska (hey, the darned game has come out on almost EVERY format since the game's invention!), the object is to remove all the tiles from the screen, one matching pair at a time. However, there can be no tile to the left, right or above the tile that you want to remove. The game is over when you've removed every piece from the board (in which case you win) or when you can't make any more moves. Within these modest rules, a TON of possible moves will almost melt your brain. The key here isn't just to find two pieces and remove them. Each tiles has four of its type on each board. If there's two of the same tile side-by-side in a long row of other tiles, you don't want to remove the same two tile pieces that might exist elsewhere on the playfield. Find a matching piece and take out one of the two adjacent tiles first. Failure to do so will result in a hair-tugging exercise in frustration as you find that those pieces needed to be removed to get to the other pieces that's blocked by them. You also must anticipate where all four of the same pieces are located. Don't just pick out a pair and remove them, especially not right at the outset of the game. Survey the area carefully first. If you find only two piece of a certain tile, wait it out for awhile, because you never know if the other two are on top of each other (thereby causing you to lose the game). Another tip: If you have yet to remove any piece of a given tile type and find one of those pieces all alone with no obstacles for removal, don't jump at the first opportunity to remove it unless you have no other possible moves. Wait until you find another of its kind that's in a difficult position or that must be removed in order to get to other tiles that are blocked by it.
One major thing that's in Shanghai's favor -- and something you might think would actually be its drawback -- are its sharp and colorful graphics. Despite the large number of small but detailed tiles clumped closely together on the Lynx's small screen, all of the pieces are easily visible. The pieces can be shown either as a symbol (including the traditional Mah Jong tiles) or a number (your choice). The game's developers should be applauded for the sharpness of each object despite some of artwork on the tiles being quite complicated.
There are several minor flaws which prevent Shanghai from achieving a perfect score. First of all, the music is repetitive as hell. Ok, so you get to choose from among four tunes that repeat over and over during any given game. Over half of the music selections, however, are annoying and should definitely be avoided. It would have at least been acceptable if the music sped-up at certain intervals as tiles on the screen slowly diminshed. SOMETHING to break the monotony!
On the whole, however, Shanghai is a game that will have you playing it over and over and over. No repetitions here. The tile locations are different each time you play it, keeping the game fresh and exciting each time you fire up your Lynx.