by Amanda Nettgen
Mall Madness (Electronic edition)
Board game manufacturer:
Number of players:
Mall Madness is the game where you go on a fake shopping spree at a mini mall (the game’s small 3D version, not real-life outlet shops). Cardboard credit card in tow, the object is to buy six items around the shopping plaza and get back to your respective parking lot before your fellow shoppers do.
The game and gameplay
Setting up Mall Madness is extensive but fun. You literally build a board game sized mall right in your living room every time you play.
Have each player pick which color and sex they want to be (the game provides eight male and female pawns in four colors), and distribute the appropriate shopping list and cash card. Tell each participant to take a hike to their corresponding parking lot (Red, Blue, Yellow, or Green). Select a person to be banker, and have him hand out a paltry $150 shopping budget to each player.
Turn on the electronic game console and have each shopper “log in” by hitting the ENTER button when they hear their color greeted. A lovely P.A. lady will come on and announce where the current sales and clearance are, and for some reason, it’s the game’s shoppers’ duty to set the signs up at the stores she calls.Keep an ear out because throughout the game the robot will bring to your attention that the discounts have changed stores, prompting you to shift the signs yet again (just as in real life, the sales at a given locale never last long!).
The electronic prompter will call out when it’s your turn. It will also tell you how many spaces to move, as there’s no dice involved (sometimes it will tell you and/or others to go to a specific place, like the restroom). Jump over the mall wall (yes, you read that right) and try to head to a cheap store to buy something. You can move in any which way except for diagonally.
Refer to your cardboard shopping sheet to get a handle on how much a nearby good will cost you. While you’re all shopping at the same stores, everyone’s buying different things and therefore no two people will be paying the same amount at one store. Try to go in the shops that have sale or clearance posted.
To enter a store, you must have sufficient spaces to go through its proper door (never mind the fact that you hopped the mall’s exterior to get in). The shops all have cute names like “Between the Pages Bookstore” (back when I used to play, the department store was called “M.T. Wallet’s” – they took that title out of the modern version, though).
Consult your personal shopping pad to find out what you will be buying and for how much (each pawn has his or her own spending style). Make sure you have enough cash to cover what is listed, then insert your fake cash card into the electronic game console (very innovative when I played in the 90s!) and await the response.
The game will respond in one of several ways. Typically, you’ll hear a “Cha-Ching!” noise that sounds more like Choo-Choo if it was a regular sale and everything went through okay. Sometimes you’ll get a surprise sale or clearance (even if no signs are posted) and therefore get to pay the reduced rate bulleted on your shopping card. Occasionally the storekeeper will tell you that they’re out of stock and that you’ll need to try again on another turn.
While you stuck your credit card in to validate the purchase, you’ll actually be paying cash to the banker to buy your stuff (guess you’ve got one of those envelope money systems going). Pick up a plastic check mark and slide it over the store you just visited to commemorate your shopping accomplishment. Only five more stores to go!
You and your fellow players are bound to run out of money at some point, in which case you should head to the ATM. It’s located in the center of the mall at the gaming console. Forget getting to decide how much money to take out of your own account – the announcer will control how much you get.
Something that’s new to the updated edition of Mall Madness from when I played is the inclusion of Food Tokens. Food Tokens can be picked up at the Ice Cream Shop, Movie Theater, or Food Court and add a bonus three spaces to a turn when ‘consumed’. You can only have two snacks in your possession at a time (got to save room for dinner!).
A player wins Mall Madness once they have successfully obtained six plastic check marks to signify crushing half a dozen stores. Now make your way pack to where your car is (no need to remember where you parked; it’s the lot that’s the same color as you are). Don’t window shop on your way out because it could be a long way back to your starting spot, and other shoppers and/or the announcer can still thwart your progress by sending you to random locales!
Pros and cons
I love Mall Madness; it will always be one of my favorite games. There’s just something about a talking board game that has a nice-looking, two-story high “mall” that’s really cool. As a bonus it teaches money and time management skills.
There’s really not too much that is bad about Mall Madness, except that it is easy to cheat (just slide an extra check mark or two onto your shopping pad when no one is looking). I will always remember my friend doing that from when we were nine years old!
Also, some might think it teaches materialism and superficiality, but I was never affected. It’s obviously more geared towards girls than boys, although I have played it with my husband, and even he thought it was fun!
Mall Madness is a really cool game that moms won’t mind playing with their daughters. It’s a nice choice for a group of girls from tween to teen to play quietly on their own. It’s sure to be a hit at any slumber party.