Create a Mall Review

Attention K-Mart shoppers! Haul butt out of this suburban strip mall hell and start dreaming big. What if you could manage your own mall? Where would you put the clothing stores? The shoe stores? The trendy restaurants? (Hint: Don’t put them near the pet stores. Feeder crickets are notorious escapees.)

With Create a Mall for the iPhone and iPod Touch, you get a taste of what it’s like to run a shopping center. Unfortunately, limited gameplay and aesthetic decisions make Create a Mall just that– a taste. But if you enjoy building success from the ground up, you’ll find quite a bit to like about rescuing failing malls from the brink of financial oblivion.

Create a gathering place for mallrats.

Create a Mall puts you in the high heels of Kelly, a young entrepreneuse with a sixth sense for America’s commercial culture. Kelly brings her magic touch to 36 different malls in distress, each with its own unique problems. Some malls suffer from a lack of services, while others are inaccessible nightmares for the handi-capable. Each outlet is definitely suffering from a grand case of the borings.

You help Kelly meet whatever goals the property managers set for her, which might include adding a certain kind of store, making a certain amount of money, or raising the mall’s popularity in general. But it’s not as easy as popping a Williams-Sonoma next to the can and calling it a day. If you don’t lease a blend of stores, customers won’t part with their cash. Building stores also takes manpower and resources, which deplete constantly as stores are built and upgraded. By spending money carefully, you’ll be able to buy blueprints for new outlets, and supply a steady stream of resources and labor to build up stores.

Entertainment venues are in demand, too. People need movie theaters so they can cry in the dark over the state of their lives, and teens need arcades to duck away from the truant officer. Arcades, restaurants, movie theaters and other ‘large’ stores need more space than regular retail, which you have to consider when building up a mall.

Overpriced electronics are a must.

There is no time limit to meet a goal, but you’re rewarded with a medal if you meet your quota before a set date. Create a Mall’s adjustable pacing makes the game as relaxing or as challenging as you’d like it to be, which is a welcomed touch. Aside from earning medals and trophies, you can buy clothing and accessories for Kelly and have yourself a dress-up session.

Create a Mall’s gameplay is kind of repetitive, and most of the malls end up looking the same despite becoming gradually larger. It can be a bit hard to tell stores apart, which wastes valuable building time and is frustrating if you’ve opted to fight the clock. Then again, given the generic malls and plazas that sprawl out across suburbia, who’s to say Create a Mall isn’t just imitating life? But if you’re expecting a ‘Sim’ title, Create a Mall won’t let you lay foundations or choose the colors of your garbage compactors. You are there strictly to make sensible business decisions.

Create a Mall is obviously ‘for girls,’ which isn’t to say that boys wouldn’t enjoy it. Anyone who’s into micromanagement will have a good time. But despite Create a Mall’s flaws, it’s nice to see Roiworld offer girls a game that’s a little smarter than Barbie Rides a Pony or whatever.

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