Mega Mall Story is another mega fun simulation from Kairosoft
I’m starting to think there are two distinct development teams at Kairosoft. There’s the design and management of goods games, like Game Dev Story where you produce videogames or Grand Prix Story where you manage, build and race grand prix cars. Then there’s the design and management of places where you build up a location and people come and visit and spend money like in Hot Springs Story, Pocket Academy and now Mega Mall Story. Historically I’ve been crazy addicted to the former and really mild on the latter. Does managing a mall bring anything new to the table?
I’ll get some good news out there right at the beginning for you: while I won’t fall all over myself to praise Mega Mall Story like I do with Game Dev Story or Grand Prix Story, it is a much better game than the other “location management” games in the Kairosoft catalog. Let’s explore the game a bit and see what separates from the other titles.
If I told you the title of the game I’m sure you could tell me what you’d be working with when you sat down to play it, but just to be clear here, you’re managing a mall. You’ll be placing stores, researching new ones, building bathrooms, attracting customers, having sales, paying for advertisements, etc. Your goal is to turn your little mecca of commerce into a five star mall in fifteen years of in-game time.
Just like Kairosoft’s other location management games, most of your time will be spent researching, placing and upgrading various stores in you ever-expanding mall. Bakeries, cafes, arcades, supermarkets, etc. You’ll naturally need stairs (which will eventually be replaced by escalators and then elevators) to connect all the floors together. Some nice plants, payphones, vending machines and more – all strung together to provide a nice shopping experience for your customers, around which all of your success (or failure) will be based.
If customers like your stores, they’ll spend lots of money there which you can use for further upgrades or other investments. If they enjoy the shopping experience you’ll receive hearts, which you’ll spend on upgrading the stores to give them more stock or newer products, and also for buying plans to build new stores.
Good store placement leads to more people shopping there, which can trigger the store to level up. If enough people have a nice experience at your mall, it could trigger a shopping frenzy.
You’ll also be able to invest in local real estate or other ventures that will have long term impacts, like having more consumers live nearby, and hiring staff to ensure people become regulars at the mall.
I think what set Mega Mall Story apart from the lackluster Hot Springs Story and Pocket Academy is part gameplay and part presentation. I can’t tell you how much easier it is to manage all the stuff going on here by just making it 2D and having you build upwards. The isometric view of the earlier titles made it easy to lose track of what you had and tough to see how everything fit. Limiting you to a huge cube just centralizes everything.
On the gameplay side I think they trimmed out a lot of the under the hood yin and yang nonsense. Often in Pocket Academy I had no clue what was helping or hurting my school, and was never given much info to help me learn. Here we’re given info about what stores do well together, and it’s clear what moves will bring in more customers and what they like to see to keep them happy.
Not to say the game isn’t without issue. Once you build up a few levels you start to lose track of what stores are where, and zooming in and out is a pain. It’s visually busy, so it’s not always totally clear which stores are which. Luckily big problems like customers not being able to reach stores (lack of stairs for example) are presented in red speech bubbles that are hard to miss. I actually found that the 2X zoom on the iPad made it easier simply because of the extra real estate, though it would be great if the game natively supported Apple’s tablet device.
I’m not sure I’ve found mobile games more addicting that Game Dev Story and Grand Prix Story, which is probably what made it hurt so much when Hot Springs Story and Pocket Academy fell so short. Mega Mall Story isn’t mind blowing, but takes great steps to keep what makes these games so compelling while cleaning up the stuff that doesn’t work. What’s left is one of the better Kairosoft titles to date, and should keep you playing for quite some time.