Pixel Mall is plenty of fun, but like the real mall, you’ll end up spending more than you planned on

Another Christmas recently came and went bringing with it the occasional reminder that when we want to be nice to each other, things can be pretty good. Of course, that warm and fuzzy feeling has to fight and claw its way through the ever-growing mountain of rampant over-spending and the stress of encouraged consumerism that you’ll find in most shopping malls. The 16 bit-styled wonderland of Pixel Mall gives you the chance to experience all this from afar in a free, Tiny Tower-esque management game.

In Pixel Mall you manage a multi-story shopping mall. Customers will come in on the bottom floor, walk to the elevator, and then let you know which store they want to visit. You’ll drag them to that store and then send an employee over to help them. When they’re finished picking out their item they’ll then take the elevator down to the ground floor and check out. In return you earn customer loyalty and money. It’s a repetitive process, but like a lot of mobile games these days, it’s strangely addicting.

You’ll only manage your mall from open to close; a single day, if you will. In between days you have the option to buy more employees, open stores, etc to make your mall run more efficiently. The employees and stores can also be leveled up to make them more efficient or bring in more money. Each of these options cost either the money you collect from your customers or something called “pixel coins” that can only be earned by returning to the game day after day or downloading other games the publisher is pushing.

Pixel Mall Pixel Mall

The in-game currency isn’t too much of a problem, it adds up fairly quickly. The real problem is these “pixel coins,” Pixel Mall‘s premium currency. Most of the helpful upgradeable options cost a lot of pixel coins (especially compared to how many you can earn by simply playing the game as it exists), and after a while, it feels like you can’t make any meaningful progress without spending some real world money.

Pixel Mall is a simple and fun time-waster that should be easy to recommend. As you advance in the game, you’ll get to a point where you’re trying to manage many customers and employees at once. If you don’t help the customer quickly enough they’ll get fed up, leave and you’ll lose that sale. The whole thing takes on a Tapper vibe that I found very appealing. But it’s frustrating to know that this management game loses its sheen once you reach a point where you feel like you should either spend money or delete the app. For a game that’s all about consumerism, it’s somewhat ironic that Pixel Mall really needs to learn the importance of balance in a virtual economy.