Review: Mega Mall Story

Mega Mall Story
by Kairosoft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Considering that the last time I was laid up for any length of time, I ended up writing a FAQ for Cafe Nippon, it shouldn't come as any surprise to me that I was seized with the same urge to break Mega Mall Story into tiny little pieces for min-maxing purposes when my desktop and laptop both stopped working in the same week. If you're just tuning into this series, Kairosoft makes "spreadsheet games" (or so Husband calls them as he sniffs over his Diablo-clones, heh.) for Android and Apple and oh my I love them so.

Mega Mall Story has you creating... wait for it... your own mall. With butchers and cinemas and bookstores and cafeterias and helicopter pads. I would live in this mall, were I not a renowned introvert who hates ambient noise. Which makes it all the more awesome that I can play this game without leaving the comfort of my home or, indeed, without needing any internet at all. (Minus the internet it took to install the game in the first place.)

@ Google Play

And now let's break this game open. The base game itself is pretty self-explanatory, like most Kairosoft games. The devil is always in the details. So here's a quick breakdown and then we'll talk more in depth:

1. Hold Sales often and effectively.
2. Prioritize getting new customers with investments over early expansion.
3. Create regulars as quickly as you can.
4. Spend money like it's going out of style (ads, investments, new stores, expansion).
5. Conserve hearts like a miser.

Hold Sales
It took me awhile to realize this, but the Hold Sales action is your most powerful tool in this game, once you acquire it at Store Rank 3. Holding a sale might seem wasteful because it costs 10 hearts, but it's almost the only way to earn hearts, and it's the only way to herd customers to their stores so that they can become regulars. The hardest regular in the game to earn is Bearington (I haven't been able to earn him) because he is only satisfied by a facility (the Fountain) and you can't hold sales at facilities. Everyone else? Easy peasy once you know the trick.

Earning Hearts: Month 8 and Month 12 are "sales months". When you hold a sale in a "sale month", your popularity goes up a variable amount (depending largely on the economy). On the first day of those months, you should use as many hearts as it takes to build your popularity up to a frenzy. The frenzy will last most of the month, but there will be a few short days near the end of the month when the frenzy will be over -- use those days to trigger a second frenzy with all the hearts you just earned. This pattern of four guaranteed frenzies a year (two per sales month, and with hopefully one or two more frenzies by using all available advertisements and being wise about when you accrue popularity through Story Events) should have you rolling in all the hearts you need.

Popularity: Note that popularity is one of the most important things in the game, since it ultimately earns hearts via frenzies. Always buy (with money) as many advertisements as you have available. Hire good people as they come available through expansions, rather than leaving a floor empty. Do not place any buildings during a frenzy nor earn popularity through other means during a frenzy (if you can avoid it), since that popularity will be wasted. Several game events such as ranking up the mall and/or building unique buildings (cinema, planetarium, bus stop, etc.) may end up being featured in the mall news with a corresponding boost in popularity; plan these events to your advantage.

Herding Customers: Each customer has an ideal Specific Shop + Quality baseline that they need to visit to become a regular, but the customers won't knowingly beeline to their preferred shop. But you can use the Hold Sales action to herd the customer to their favorite store so that they can become a regular. Ideally, you want to do this as soon as they arrive because (a) regulars walk faster and spend more, (b) the bigger the mall, the less likely your customer is to bump into your store, and (c) the bigger the crowds of people, the more likely the store is to sell out during a sale before your slower-walking customer gets there. When holding sales during the "sales month", you shouldn't be choosing stores at random; you should be picking the stores that correspond to non-regular customers.

Rival Malls: Every so often a Rival Mall will open and suck your customers away. (Beat them over time by holding frenzies.) Which customers are using the Rival Mall will change from month to month -- use this to your advantage. On the first day of every month, check the Info → Customers dialogue and identify which non-regular customers are coming for the day. Then hold sales for their shops and hope that the smaller crowds will prevent an early sell-out.

Maximizing Sales: At the end of the year, there's a contest to see which store made the most profit -- you get a cash prize and (when you hit #1 for the country) a Casino for winning. A good way to achieve this early is to use the Hold Sales every month for a high quality / high price store like the Planetarium. After selling out for 12 months in a row, you should be a shoo-in for the prize. (If not, use hearts to increase the stock and quality of the store.)

Leveling Stores: Each store levels up naturally after a certain number of customers has been reached. (Customer numbers accrue even while a store is waiting to level up; it is possible to level up a store twice in a row -- one right after the other -- if you wait long enough. I have verified this on high speed play.) If a store is just barely under the quality necessary to satisfy a customer, you can boost that quality temporarily with a same-floor facility, or you can use the Hold Sales option to herd customers to the store and level it up faster. It is often cheaper in hearts to use sales to level up a store than to use hearts to gamble on the difficult-to-get power ups. A note on leveling stores: Do not use a one-size-fits-all approach to dividing the points between quality and quantity. If a store is at the needed quality for a non-regular, but keeps selling out, then it needs a quantity boost; if the store is below the required quality, then boost the quality as needed.

Let's talk about hearts. Hearts are so important. You use them to buy new stores. You use them to hold sales. You use them to power up stores. Hearts are your friend. You will basically never have enough hearts (although by the end game you'll have quite a few if you follow this guide).

For the first several years, you'll want to be miserly with hearts. Spend them as needed in order to trigger your four sales-month-frenzies. Then in Month 1 you can spend the resulting surplus on stores, but only ones that you need to build right away in order to make regulars. From Month 1 to Month 8, your job is to accrue enough hearts to get you through your four frenzies all over again.

Do not power up stores willy-nilly. The only stores you want to power up are stores that aid your goals, either the one store (Planetarium, Supermarket, etc.) that is getting you the year-end bonus or the stores needed to make regulars. Check the chart or your notes -- if the Plaza doesn't earn any regulars, then it doesn't need to be powered up until you're in an actual near-end-game surplus. Stores that cater to non-regulars will probably need a minor Stock Up (usually 5 points) and may need a minor Quality Up (usually 5 points). If you stack bonuses correctly with floor placement and combos, you usually won't need to pay for the expensive and difficult-to-get power ups.

Customers are very easy to figure out, once you understand the lingo. Each customer in the Info → Customers list has a dialogue. Here's an example:

What this means is that for this customer to be a regular, she has to visit a specific shop (in this case a Pet Shop) and that specific shop needs to have a store quality of 40 (or more) in order to be satisfied. Nothing else in your mall matters to this customer, except in so much as the other things affect the quality of the store. Things that affect store quality include compatibility with the floor number, possible combos with surrounding stores, and the employee who manages that floor and hir compatibility with the floor type.

Now we come to the spreadsheet part of the min-maxed spreadsheet game. You can find a full shared version of all this data at Google Docs here.

Note: This sheet was updated in 2023 due to major game changes in the mall layout.


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