From the manual:
"Long ago, when mystical powers still roamed the Earth, a powerful dragon brought fear and terror to the lands around Shanghai. The emperor promised riches and glory to the hero who could defeat the dragon. Many brave warriors tried. All failed. The few who survived brought back tales of the dragon's magical
shape-shifting. Whenever a warrior seemed to gain the upper hand in pitched battle, the dragon changed shape: sometimes a turtle, a bear, a butterfly -- there seemed to be no limit to the dragon's magic.
One afternoon in Spring, a humble farmboy named Mah Jongg was carrying eggs to the village market. A man with a gray beard and a long white pigtail appeared from behind a rock. "Young man," said the Wlse One, "not far from here there lives the evil dragon. Go to its den and grab hold of the scaled back. The
dragon will change form. No matter what happens, no matter how frightened you become, do not let go your hold until the dragon surrenders to you. Only good will come of this." Then the old man vanished as suddenly as he appeared.
Mah Jongg did as the Old One said. He sneaked into the dragon's den and took hold of the dragon's scaled back. The surprised dragon immediately changed into a hawk with a sharp beak and tearing talons. The boy did not let go. The dragon changed into a beautiful butterfly, a slippery fish, and a hungry bear. Still
Mah Jongg held on. Even when the dragon took the forms of a poisonous spider and a snapping turtle, the brave farm boy held tightly to its back. Finally, exhausted, the dragon returned to its original form and surrendered to the boy.
From that time on, the dragon brought nothing but good luck and great harvests to the people of the province, Mah Jongg most of all.
Years later, the game of Shanghai was developed to remind the people of this event. It is said that anybody who can solve the puzzle in all its forms will receive a piece of the Luck of the Dragon. You are about to enter the realm of Shanghal -- one of the most absorbing computer experiences you'll ever encounter."