Shanghai Dynasty is a three-dimensional tile-matching game designed to recreate Chinese Mahjong online for children and adults. The player's goal is to clear all tiles from a red and black playfield that features a tiger and a Chinese dragon. The game doesn't feature a timer, which means that the player can take as much time as they need to complete this task.
After the player selects a mode (For Kids or Shanghai), the game presents the green and ivory tiles in layers using a traditional pattern. Each tile displays characters commonly associated with Chinese Mahjong, such as dragon symbols, flowers, red, blue and green bamboo stalks and dots, and scenes depicting the seasons.
The player must remove the tiles in pairs. They can only select uncovered tiles that aren't between other tiles. When they select a tile, a yellow frame encases the tile to make it clear that they made a selection. When the game removes a pair, swirling black-and-white yin and yang symbols briefly appear in place of the tiles and then disappear from the screen.
Shanghai Dynasty offers unlimited restarts, which means that the player can effortlessly start over with an entirely new layered pattern if they make a mistake that causes them to fail. If they want to match tiles on a smaller layered pattern, they can also choose the For Kids option at any time using the text at the bottom-left corner. That said, a smaller For Kids pattern offers the same level of difficulty as a larger Shanghai one.