Review: Mega Mall Story

[Content Note: Ads]

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.

Perfect Mall Layout: Here is a semi-perfect mall layout (or so I believe) that I put together with help from d_senti at GameFaqs and Virtual Alex at DeviantArt. (I really very strongly recommend accessing the layout from the Google Docs link above, which also contains an explanation of the floor/combo bonuses and why the layout is what it is.

Customers: Here is a list of customers who visit the mall, what number they are, where they live, what investment brings them to the mall, what trigger (if any) makes them available, what store can satisfy them, and what reward they give when they become a regular.

People Number Location Job Trigger Satisfied Reward
Amy Jones 1 Residential Supermarket Lenny Ling
Ken Hayes 2 Office Rest Area $100,000
Cletus Mann 3 Park Supermarket Toy Display
May Gomez 4 Residential [Waiter] arrives with Jim Maxwell Toy Store Duke Higgs
Jim Maxwell 5 Residential [Waiter]  Cafe  Cafe  $100,000
Kent Dellan 6 Office [Executive] Rest Area Payphones Seafood St.
Ryu Honda 7 Office [Executive] arrives with Kent Dellan Cafeteria / Fast Food $200,000
Pablo P 8 Park [Waitress] arrives with Blondie Cay Vending M./Rest Area Leafy Plant
Serena Lam 9 Residential [Osteopath] arrives with Ben Donner Clothing St. Butcher
Ben Donner 10 Residential [Osteopath] Rest Area $200,000
Mabel Smith 11 Office [Secretary] Home Goods Home Goods Keith Wardon {Hire}
Gordon G 12 Office [Secretary] arrives with Mabel Smith Fountain CD Store
Blondie Cay 13 Park [Waitress] Supermarket Supermarket $100,000
Dan Green 14 Residential [Designer] arrives with Max Clay Cafeteria Ticket Outlet
Max Clay 15 Residential [Designer] Clothing St. $100,000
Jeeves 16 Office [Butler] Arcade Gil Bates
Hana Burger 17 Office [Butler] arrives with Jeeves Observation / Arcade $100,000
Bunny Ford 18 Park [Maid] arrives with Pam Daily Seafood St. Jen Collins
Scoop Dodd 19 Residential [Journalist] Greengrocer Bookstore $300,000
Jack Hayes 20 Office [Musician] arrives with Yoyo Ha Ticket Outlet Indy Smith
Yoyo Ha 21 Office [Musician] Cafe  Cafe  Toy Store
Pam Daily 22 Park [Maid] Bakery $100,000
Sneezy Hays 23 Residential [Cameraman] Florist Shoe Store
Tam Bruise 24 Residential [Cameraman] arrives with Sneezy Hays Boutique / Clothing St. $100,000
Dave Kato 25 Office [Programmer] Toy Store Karen Heller
Jay Hooks 26 Park [Fisherman] CD Store Arnie Swan
Soupy Dorn 27 Residential [Soccer Plyr] arrives with Dave Beck Chinese Bfft. $100,000
Dave Beck 28 Residential [Soccer Plyr] Cinema $100,000
Ray Coffer 29 Office [Gentleman] Butcher Robin Froe
Alice Bee 30 Office [Gentleman] arrives with Ray Coffer Candy Store $100,000
Ann Yuill 31 Park [Fisherman] arrives with Jay Hooks Art Store Mark Sans
Clementine 32 Residential [Comic Artist] Bookstore $100,000
Shay Crock 33 Office [Singer] arrives with Mic Jackson Cake Store Hair Salon
Mic Jackson 34 Office [Singer] Shoe Store Claire Lune
Jamie Lee 35 Park [Nurse] Clothing St. Clothing St. Art Store
Ronald Day 36 Residential [Student] arrives with Tiger Hoods Fast Food $100,000
Tiger Hoods 37 Residential [Student] Game Store Stationary
Caesar Murn 38 Office [Celebrity] Supermarket Lottery Shop
Betsy Fay 39 Park [Cheerleader] Cafeteria Fortune Teller
Jim Franks 40 Park [Cheerleader] Dollar Store Drugstore
Mick Roony 41 Residential [Doctor] arrives with Andy Mays Stationary Ginny Love
Andy Mays 42 Residential [Doctor] Clinic Clinic Stereo Shop
Cat Kidman 43 Office [Chef] arrives with Poppy Smith Clothing St. Karaoke
Poppy Smith 44 Office [Chef] PC Store Mobile Shop
Festus Kay 45 Park [Swimmer] arrives with Jenny Sein Steakhouse Locksmith
Jenny Sein 46 Park [Swimmer] Conv. Store Gourmet Deli
Crystal Mann 47 Residential [Teacher] Boutique Camera Store
Sarah Hong 48 Office [Astronaut] Appliances Plaza
Sister Mary 49 Park [Nun] Fancy Bistro Cosmetics
Toby Pots 50 Park [Nun] arrives with Sister Mary Sushi Bar Nail Salon
Dick Bando 51 Residential [Consultant] Hair Salon Lucy Naiman
Miso Hisoda 52 Office [Critic] Video Rental Glasses
Clem Danes 53 Park [Folk Singer] arrives with Mary Moon Lottery Shop Ray Keys
Butch Pitt 54 Residential [Stuntman] Jeweler Watch Store
Venus Winn 55 Office [Debugger] Fortune Teller Fortune Teller Pumpkin 1
Mary Moon 56 Park [Folk Singer] Sushi Bar Japanese Food
King Ackbar 57 Park [Young CEO] Game Store Game Store $1,500,000
Porky Feeny 58 Residential [Farmer] Bowling Alley Exhibit Area
Mary Cats 59 Office [Saleswoman] arrives with May Bee Spa Chandelier
May Bee 60 Office [Saleswoman] Gourmet Deli Chipman Z
Mocha Latte 61 Park [Young CEO] arrives with King Ackbar Fancy Bistro ATM
Hen Penny 62 Residential [Ninja] arrives with Nekomaru Casino 20 Popularity
Nekomaru 63 Residential [Ninja] Pet Store Pet Store Bar
Hulk Grogan 64 Office [Wrestler] Video Rental Video Rental Chairman
Cindy Gray 65 Park [Housewife] Jeweler Jeweler Real Estate
Ducky Bills 66 Residential [Osteopath] Furniture Furniture Lingerie Shop
Jed Quacks 67 Residential [Osteopath] arrives with Ducky Bills Pet Store $500,000
Kettler UFO 68 Office [Negotiator] Bowling Alley Bowling Alley Betting Shop
Kairobot 69 Park [Myst. Robot] Lingerie Shop Lingerie Shop Sally Prin
Manny Cave 70 Park [Myst. Robot] arrives with Kairobot Real Estate 30 Popularity
Jen Collins 71 Park Bunny Ford Clothing St. 30 Popularity
Mark Sans 72 Park Ann Yuill Cafeteria $500,000
Karen Heller 73 Park Dave Kato Dollar Store Bearington
Claire Lune 74 Park Mic Jackson Boutique $500,000
Ray Keys 75 Park Clem Danes PC Store $500,000
Bearington 76 Park Karen Heller Fountain Concert Hall (??)
Duke Higgs 77 Residential May Gomez Steakhouse $500,000
Indy Smith 78 Residential Jack Hayes Conv. Store $500,000
Gil Bates 79 Residential Jeeves Arcade $500,000
Lucy Naiman 80 Residential Dick Bando Appliances 50 Hearts
Arnie Swan 81 Residential Jay Hooks Fancy Bistro 30 Popularity
Lenny Ling 82 Office Amy Jones Pet Store 50 Hearts
Sally Prin 83 Office Kairobot Exhibit Area Museum
Chipman Z 84 Office May Bee Greengrocer $5,000,000
Robin Froe 85 Office Ray Coffer Sushi Bar 30 Popularity
Ginny Love 86 Office Mick Roony Furniture 30 Popularity
Pumpkin 1 87 Office Venus Winn Bowling Alley 30 Popularity
Chairman 88 Office Hulk Grogan Spa 30 Popularity

Shops: Here is a list of shops available to build at the mall, how many hearts they cost to purchase from the in-game store (if any), the star ranking your mall needs in order to be available at the store, the size of the shop, the cost to place the shop, and what satisfied customer gives the shop to you (if applicable).

Name Heart Cost Stars Size Cost Given By...?
Appliance 100 4 4 $400,000
Aquarium 200 3 4 $1,200,000
Arcade 80 3 3 $300,000
Art Store 2 $60,000 Jamie Lee
ATM 1 $500,000 Mocha Latte
Bakery 0 0 2 $25,000
Betting Shop 4 $500,000 Kettler UFO
Bookstore 60 0 4 $120,000
Boutique 60 2 2 $250,000
Bowling Alley 160 5 3 $400,000
Butcher 2 $40,000 Serena Lam
Cafe  0 0 2 $25,000
Cafeteria 40 2 3 $80,000
Cake Store 20 1 2 $40,000
Camera Store 3 $150,000 Crystal Mann
Candy Store 20 0 2 $10,000
Casino 4 $2,000,000 #1 Sales
CD Store 3 $60,000 Gordon G
Chandelier 1 $450,000 Mary Cats
Chinese Bfft 40 0 3 $50,000
Cinema 0 0 4 $300,000
Clinic 120 2 3 $500,000
Clothing St. 50 1 3 $90,000
Conv. Store 80 3 2 $180,000
Cosmetics 3 $100,000 Sister Mary
Dollar Store 50 2 3 $50,000
Drugstore 3 $100,000 Jim Franks
Exhibit Area 4 $300,000 Porky Feeny
Fancy Bistro 80 5 3 $250,000
Fast Food 40 1 3 $80,000
Florist 0 0 2 $35,000
Fortune Teller 1 $60,000 Betsy Fay
Fountain 40 3 1 $50,000
Furniture St. 120 5 4 $300,000
Game Store 40 1 2 $80,000
Glasses 2 $180,000 Miso Hisoda
Gourmet Deli 2 $120,000 Jenny Sein
Greengrocer 0 0 2 $10,000
Hair Salon 3 $80,000 Shay Crock
Home Goods 0 0 2 $75,000
Japanese Food 3 $180,000 Mary Moon
Jeweler 120 4 2 $500,000
Karaoke 3 $100,000 Cat Kidman
Leafy Plant 1 $20,000 Pablo P
Lingerie Shop 3 $250,000 Ducky Bills
Lockers 15 1 1 $15,000
Locksmith 1 $150,000 Festus Kay
Lottery Shop 1 $50,000 Caesar Murn
Mobile Shop 2 $120,000 Poppy Smith
Museum 4 $900,000 Sally Prin
Nail Salon 2 $120,000 Toby Potts
Payphones 0 0 1 $10,000
PC Store 90 2 3 $350,000
Pet Store 60 4 3 $150,000
Plaza 3 $300,000 Sarah Hong
Real Estate 3 $600,000 Cindy Gray
Rest Area 10 0 1 $15,000
Restroom 10 0 1 $20,000
Seafood St. 2 $30,000 Kent Dellan
Service Counter 120 1 2 $350,000
Shoe Store 2 $80,000 Sneezy Hays
Spa 160 5 3 $400,000
Stationary 3 $80,000 Tiger Hoods
Steakhouse 60 3 3 $90,000
Stereo Shop 2 $80,000 Andy Mays
Supermarket 0 0 4 $150,000
Sushi Bar 100 5 2 $250,000
Ticket Outlet 1 $30,000 Dan Gree
Toy Display 1 $20,000 Cletus Mann
Toy Store 3 $80,000 Yoyo Ha
Vending M. 0 0 1 $10,000
Video Rental 80 4 3 $150,000
Watch Store 2 $200,000 Butch Pitt

Combos: Here is a list of combos available to build at the mall, and which stores make up the combo.

Name Store 1 Store 2 Store 3
Breakfast Bakery Leafy Plant Cafe 
Celebrity Jewelry Casino Chandelier
Convenience Conv. Store Dollar Store Drug Store
Crowd Chinese Buffet Rest Area Bookstore
Date Rest Area Aquarium Cinema
Dreams Lottery Shop Fortune Tllr Ticket Outlet
Electronics PC Store Appliances Mobile Shop
Entertainment Bowling Alley Arcade Lockers
Fashion Shoe Store Clothing Store Boutique
Fun Arcade Game Store Video Rental
Gentlemen Shoe Store Watch Store Glasses
Girls Florist Cake Shop Clothing St.
Grocery Gourmet Deli Cake Shop Supermarket
Holiday Planetarium Museum Aquarium
Jewelry Home Goods Furniture Store Jeweler
Kids Toy Display Candy Store Vending Machine
Laid Back Payphones Vending Machine Rest Area
Living Supermarket Service C Payphones
Luxury Casino Aquarium Cinema
Model Hair Salon Nail Salon Cosmetics
Neighbors Butcher Greengrocer Seafood Store
Pleasure Bowling Alley Karaoke Club Steakhouse
Relaxation Rest Area Fountain Vending Machine
Scenery Bar Fancy Bistro Observation Deck
Seniors Sushi Bar Camera Store Spa
Snacks Fast Food Chinese Buffet Cafeteria
Sound CD Store Stereo Shop Video Rental
Theater Stereo Shop Video Rental Cinema
Toys Toy Display Toy Store Game Store
Wisdom Bookstore Service C ATM

Pictures of most of the customers, the index of customers, and the store combos can be viewed on my Picasa album here.

The final game score breaks down as the sum of the following factors:

Money at End Game divided by 1,000. A final end game balance of $269,351,400 will result in 269,351 points. Note that this counts only the money balance at the end, and not a sum of all money accrued.

Number of Regular Customers multiplied by 1,000. A final end game number of 87 regulars will result in 87,000 points.

Total Visitors Accrued Over Game multiplied by 10. A final end game sum of 10,693 visitors will result in 106,930 points. Note that the sooner you acquire a guest, the more times they can visit.

Total Hearts Accrued Over Game multiplied by 10. A final end game sum of 11,756 hearts will result in 117,560 points. Note that this counts all hearts accrued, regardless of whether they were spent.

Number of Stores Unlocked multiplied by 1,000. A final end game number of 79 stores will result in 79,000 points.

...And I think that's about it for this review-slash-FAQ. Enjoy!


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