Friday, November 6, 2009


Hudson Soft / Activision

A Duomazov never turns down a PCE freebie, but Shanghai was far from the most thrilling Turbo toss-in I'd ever received. I mean, I already had a fancy version of the game on my PC, and I'd determined ages ago that if I were ever bored enough to fuck around with such frivolous extras, I'd play reliable old Hearts instead. So the HuCard seemed a long shot to entertain me, and its chances took a severe hit when I discovered how little it offers as far as play and presentation options are concerned. The only way to find variety in the experience is to alter the tile arrangement. So if you don't like, say, this board... can go with, say, this board...

Sadly, each and every board left me very, very bored. The music was quite pleasant but so peaceful and slow that it only hastened my descent into sleepiness.

But then I messed with the menu options a bit more and found that I could play to the beats of two other tracks. Melody #2 shocked me: it's really fast and upbeat and got me so pumped that I actually... kept on playing.

And as I played, I found boards that proved tough for me to conquer, challenges that I simply could not back down from. Before I knew it, I was returning to the game for the enjoyment I was getting from taking on the harder levels. And I eventually discovered that the third melody is quite nice too: it's a mellow-yet-catchy number that brought to mind Son Son II's fantastic music.

If you enjoy the game of Shanghai and are willing to make do with a bare-bones rendition of it, you'll probably rate this chip satisfactory. I think it's worth shelling out the $2.50 or whatever extremely low amount the card goes for just to hear the music. If not for those quality chip tunes, I never would've bothered to spend enough time with the game to discover the fun to be had with the trickier tile setups.

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