Develop your own mall! Cool.
Sounds like a fantastic idea, and the slightly blurry screen caps on the box of Mall
Tycoon make it seem like a wonderful realization of that idea. Unfortunately it doesn't
work like that. I really hate to start trash talking a game in the opening paragraph of a
review, but Mall Tycoon does not leave one with a lot of nice things to say. I have to
admit, there are a few aspects of the game that drew my attention for a little while, and
even a few things that I found slightly amusing.
The first annoying thing that I noticed
is the load screen when you boot the game. It is a very busy and colorful splash screen
that depicts, appropriately, a mall. Unfortunately, you see this screen for a long, long
time. Even on my 1.2Ghz machine, I had to sit for a few minutes studying the splash
screen, trying to figure out if the punk with the mohawk and leather pants is supposed
look pregnant or not. Even with all the time that I was able to study the "Pregnant
Punk", I wasn't able to come to a decisive conclusion and I was further annoyed. The
game took even longer to load on my 950Mhz machine. I would hate to have to play it on the
suggested minimum hardware requirement: a PII 300Mhz.
next thing that jumps out at you when you start playing the game is the graphics. The
graphics are in a pseudo-3D, pseudo-isometric format. You can zoom in and out and rotate
every which way to Sunday, which is a nice option. The drawback to that is the graphics at
any sort of zoom level are grainy and choppy. There are a few animations that were
slightly amusing: running water, walking customers, and a movie theater with a broken
flickering screen. I'm not sure if the movie screen is supposed to flicker or if that's
another poor aspect of the graphics engine. Every store has a subset of little animations
that pertains to that store: a pizza man tossing pizza or a bikini model showing off the
latest lingerie. I found the customers graphics to be a bit plain. There are 3 age groups
of customers, Young, Adult and Senior. I couldn't find a single senior citizen that didn't
have a walker or cane! And it seems that the young males tend to "hop" a lot. At
any rate, I thought I was seeing return-customers to my mall, but it turns out that I was
just seeing the same customer graphics over and over again.
The sound in the game wasn't quite as displeasing as the graphics. There are a few
environmental sounds, but none of these really sound like a Mall at all. The fountains
were the most prevalent environmental sounds; every time that you have a fountain on the
screen anywhere, you hear a pleasant running water sound. This was nice at first, but
trust me, it gets old very quickly! (I found myself hearing the call of nature
unnecessarily.) The alerts in the game are annoying. Alert sounds are triggered by
particular events in the game, but seem to have no bearing on the actual event. I've seen
events with descriptions like "A zombie has turned one of your mall customers into a
zombie" that will have a very pleasant sounding chime, sounding similar to a toned
down doorbell. Another event, "The mayor has announced that your mall is an aesthetic
asset", triggered a very annoying "BEEP" sound. How could anyone think that
this is appropriate?
play of the game is the only halfway decent feature of Mall Tycoon. There are several
options for the types of stores that you create and if you create a large enough store
space, you can combine stores! So you can add a video game arcade to your pizza parlor,
create a piercing and tanning salon, or create a shoe store electronics shop. The
possibilities are endless. The Finances of the game are not quite as expansive as I would
expect from a simulation of something that is entirely retail. The stores set their own
prices and the only thing that you have control over is the stores rent and the cut
that the mall takes from each sale. Customers sometimes complain about store prices, so
the only thing that you can do is lower one of the two options that you have, or live with
the complaints. It is not a difficult, or even challenging, game by any means.
The game mechanics take on a "If you build it, they will come" schema. The
more stores that you build, the more customers you have and the more money you make.
There's some simple economics -- if only that's how it really worked. There are several
additional structures that you can add besides stores. These include restrooms, the
previously mentioned bathroom-break inducing fountains, trees, sculptures, trashcans and
even play areas for the kiddies.
so we all know that I wasn't too pleased with Mall Tycoon. It really is a great idea for a
game, but with poor graphics, sound and limited playability, it just didn't quite hit the
mark that Take 2 and Holistic were aiming for. It had the ability to hold my interest for
a few hours, but definitely not long enough to hold up to some of the its rivals in the