Kairosoft is quickly becoming the Pixar of App Store game developers: Every new release is a hit that seems to be better than the last. Mega Mall Story is in many ways their most robust entry yet, giving you more options and control than ever, upping the frenzy factor but without completely overloading the player. But does managing a mall translate to fun?
If you’ve been following Kairosoft’s lineup, they have thus far let you run a game design studio, create the world’s most luxurious spa, and oversee the building of a top-notch school. As such, each of their previous titles have had a more narrow focus than Mega Mall Story: you’re essentially focused on a single company, a single task. Running a mall with its multitude of stores is a different beast.
You can get lost in there if you’re not careful.
At first glance, the game looks much like the incredibly popular Tiny Tower, which has you constructing a tower replete with apartments and small businesses. The two share many similarities, but Tiny Tower is a freemium game, which means that you spend a lot of your time waiting unless you’re willing to spend real-world cash to speed up the game. As a pay title, Mega Mall Story doesn’t have to worry about that, and like other Kairosoft games, you’re always on the go as you sprint toward reaching 5-star status before the clock runs out. You can continue playing after that point, but your score is determined by how well you do within a set time limit.
Mega Mall Story is also not purely a vertical game. Your mall can expand on the sides, too, and eventually you’re even managing real estate in the surrounding area (via houses, parks, and the like). So, you’re going to be scrolling around the screen in all four directions. Your inability to view your entire complex at once is certainly a detriment– precious time is wasted hunting for exactly what you’re seeking– but it’s just the reality given the scope of the game. The ability to zoom in and out and rotate the screen (for 3GS models and later), though, is appreciated.
It’s all just money in the bank.
Your real goal is to gain popularity, and this is achieved by properly managing the mall’s layout and accessibility, as well as which stores you place and when. You’ll also work toward upgrading stores so that they have better stock and more items in stock at any given time. It’s all about keeping the shopper happy, and when they are, they’ll reward you with hearts. Hearts can be used to unlock additional store types and other various upgrades.
The game does an amazing job of rewarding you for your work. In fact, for such an expansive tycoon-style game, it’s amazing just how seldom you’ll be bored. You won’t spend time idly watching the humdrum of shoppers (unless you really want to) when there is always something to do.
Kairosoft has mastered the ability of providing frantic gameplay without making you feel out of control. It’s also a game that you should feel comfortable playing in small doses. Whenever you return, it picks up right where you left off, and even though there are a plethora of menus that you’ll need to tap through, it never feels cumbersome. Most importantly, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have fun. If you get stuck in a rut, this is definitely a game that you won’t mind starting over from the beginning. And we think you’ll keep coming back again, and again, and again.