Shop it Up! Review

By David Becker |

Activate your clicking skills for a time management blast

While HipSoft is mostly known for the highly acclaimed Build-a-lot-series, the developer now surprises us with a completely new game called Shop-it-Up! While the name is not exactly innovative, the game certainly is, enabling the player to build a large mall from scratch. In a seamless mixture of Create A Mall and time management features, the game proves to be an entertaining and challenging experience.

Shop-it-Up! features 75 levels in career mode in eight different parts of the mall, while the casual mode allows the player to revisit those locations again to play them without any restrictions or goals.
Shop it Up!
Each level begins with a call from the head of your current department, who explains the goals of the level for you. Your basic task in Shop-it-Up! is to open various store types to earn money. This can be done by clicking on small cubes to choose between categories such as entertainment, apparel, or food, and the exact shop, for example men’s clothing, a magic shop, or housewares. These are only some examples of a very large selection of shops, which increases with nearly every level you pass. Between buying advertisements, cashing up customers, paying salaries, restocking shops, and improving your mall, there is not much time left for thinking.

But the opening of shops is only the beginning of developing the mall areas. In the beginning those shops are simply grey and empty, and as you can imagine this appearance will not attract a lot of customers. How much you will earn from a shop depends on two major factors. Firstly, how expensive it is in general, and secondly the shop’s rating. This rating can be increased in a lot of ways. Shops have to get proper walls, floors, and signs, they have to be stocked with inventory items, you can hire staff, the flair can be increased, and it is possible to activate advertisement for any shop.

Shop-it-Up! really shines thanks to those details and the large variety of things the player can do and the number of items that can be chosen from. The very selection of wallpaper and flooring makes the shops highly customizable, and it is a blast to decorate shops according to your own taste. But even more important than the appearance is the actual profit you will try to make. While it’s possible to cash up each customer on your own, it becomes necessary to hire staff later on. Depending on the qualification staff members are even able to deal with more complicated customer requests, and the executive, the most expensive staff member, is able to halve advertisement costs.
Shop it Up!
Another welcome feature of Shop-it-Up! is the brilliant interaction between mall and player in general. Sometimes specific customers are being paged, and by clicking the correct person inside the mall the rating for each of your shops goes up by one star. Sometimes big spenders will visit the mall and as soon as you click on them they will visit the shop they are currently in front of, which even enables some strategic planning. In combination with television, radio, newspaper or 50%-off-sale advertisements that differ in duration, appeal, and impact it becomes really challenging and interesting to reach goals as quickly as possible.

The downsides of Shop-it-Up! are few. Casual mode is a little dull, and the graphics aren’t on par with the quality of the gameplay. There are some small issues with the controls, too. The number of menus can become a bit overwhelming during the more hectic phases of the game, and it’s also very easy to overlook certain requests such as salary claims by your stuff or out of stock inventories in certain shops. Clearer pop-ups would have been welcome in this respect.

But those flaws aside, Shop-it-Up! is a highly entertaining gaming experience. The quick accumulation of money and the ease with which you can close, reopen, or modify shops is highly addicting and might not be that obvious in the first couple of levels. While the game shares some similarities to social games in design, the actual core is much deeper and time management fans will surely appreciate the hectic pace and new features being added nearly every level. As complicated as it might sound, dollhouse meets business simulation meets social gaming meets time management game works absolutely fine in this case.

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