- IanUnited States
Satellite of Love
Entirely Unnecessary Introduction
There are some games that you own because they are games that every gamer should own (Carcassonne, Catan, Agricola, etc), there are games that you own because they are what you always want to play, there are games those games that occupy space for no other reason but nostalgia (Life, Monopoly, FireBall Island), and then there are those games you have because your spouse/partner/room-mate/other will only let you have your game collection if you have this game. Electronic Mall Madness is that game. Luckily, I was able to find a copy in decent condition at a local thrift store for $1.99 at about the same time as I found some other incredible games that I was interested in. Unfortunately, the batteries had been left in (since the early 90s, no doubt), so the battery contacts were in really bad shape. I was able to clean them, but there is always that concern that the bank will simply just fizz out. To make a long story short, I found copy #2 for the same price and was able to merge copies to make one complete game - with a working electronic bank. Since this game was produced during a/the "golden age" of Milton Bradley with HeroQuest and Battle Masters, I thought that it was fitting to make this my third review on BGG. The review is going to be of the originaly electronic talking edition - so my comments may not entirely apply to the newer versions. Just remember, this is just one ginger's opinion.
Game Summary & Theme
Electronic Mall Madness is set in a shopping mall - big surprise there! Up to four players (red, green, blue, yellow) start in their respective parking lots and proceed to go on a shopping spree - with their daddy's "hard earned" credit. Players move through the mall buying items at full price, on sale, and on clearance in an attempt to accumulate 6 items and make it to the Parking Lot (thus, winning the game). An expanded game can be played by purchasing 10 items - which serves to really just make the game longer and mitigate runaway leader - a bit. The mall reflects one of the late 80s and has shops of that time - so the theme is a bit date (in a good way, I think).
Component Quality & Value
As with many of the "overproduced" games during the Milton Bradley "golden age" of the 80s and early 90s, this game has a lot of cardboard and plastic. Sporting a massive box (the same size as Battle Masters), the game is quite large - it needs to be, since you build a 2-story mall with movement spaces about the same size of HeroQuest and 13 Dead End Drive. The mall walls are large plastic pieces that have slots and grooves for the cardboard artwork, which depicts the various shops, walkways, and other mall features. The game includes thematic credit cards in corresponding player colors (with humorous titles/companies), detailed money, and peg boards to keep track of player purchases. In the center is the bank, which serves as a computerized gamemaster (more on that later). While the game appears targeted towards teenage girls, male miniatures are also included as counterparts to the female figures (take a look at the box and watch the original game commercial - you will see what I mean).
This version of the game is tricky to rate for value because of the electronic bank component. You can easily acquire mostly complete copies with an broken bank for < $20 but a fully complete, working copy can range in value quite a bit $60~150. Thrifting, how I found my copies, can be fruitful - but I also think that this game might be somewhat difficult to find given the size of the box (big = valuable, right?). The trouble with thrifting is the reliance on the electronic bank to work, which is a big gamble. This is true for auction sites (condition unseen) because of not knowing if the bank works. So, if you can find it for $2~5 it is a great value. Auction site pricing would be a bigger gamble but would seem a moderate value if you can find one on the low end of the price range.
Game Play & Mechanics
Most of the actions of the game are run through the electronic bank: the bank (gamemaster) tells the players how far to move; announces if they get to move (sometimes players get sent to non-store locations - and even may get to take a friend!); the bank announces which stores are having sales and clearances; and if transactions are completed - or if some other condition is applied (surprise sale[!], out of stock, card declined, etc). The bank can be humorous with some of these transaction fails - in fact, it can be quite sassy. As such, the players are limited in decision making to simply what store to move to in order to make purchases and when to hit up the bank for more of daddy's cash. That is pretty much it for mechanics (I mean, there are some other small things, but not much), as the rules are pretty straight forward - it is a game for socializing after all.
As such, the biggest concern with this game is the heavy reliance on the electronic bank. This means that if your bank stops working, it is incredibly hard to play this game (I mean, you could with some d20s or something ... but that is a lot of work for this game). If you have a hearing impairment, this can make playing the game a little trying (you could rely on your fellow players which would not take away from the game, but it is an additional step that is not necessary in other games - so that is why I thought it might be worth mentioning). The bank can also be difficult to understand - although, this is some of "nostalgia" factor for the original (Kitchen Store is definitely the best - I will not spoil it for you). Similarly, the limited nature of decision making for this game is going to probably not appeal to many hard core gamers - Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Avalon Hill is going to provide a much more strenuous workout for your brain. That being said, this game was never intended for that audience (although I think it would make a great image - grognards smoking their cigars over the mall trying to determine the most advantageous movement for victory - and debating the historical accuracy of such mechanics!).
Players really do not interact in the game. That being said, I highly doubt that direct player interaction was what Milton Bradley had in mind - my guess is that it was meant to be a party/sleepover game where there would be a lot of socializing beyond the game. As such, the only real direct interaction is when the bank tells a player to take a friend somewhere or move somewhere (likely the Parking Lot or Restroom).
Ok, so my rating of the game (below) is going to make it look like I really do not like this game. While it is not a game that I am going to be clamoring to pull out every night, it is not an unpleasant experience. That being said, I am also used to games that offer a lot more player agency (autonomy and choice) that this system (via the bank) does not really offer. Sure, you can intentionally stick it to the game and not shop at the sale locations - but that's about it. There is also the concern about the "morals" of a game that promotes reckless credit card spending with no consequences. I would argue that this is just a game, and I would hope that my real life actions would be a stronger influence on any progeny than a game, and it could even be used as a teaching moment - nonetheless, it is a legitimate point for impressionable youth.
+ Sassy, talking bank
+ Production value
- Very limited in-game player interaction
- Player choice is primarily what store to move towards, the computer determines most of the action resolutions
- Morals of racking up credit card debt
Seriously Subjective Score
- [+] Dice rolls
- Michael TaylorUnited States
PuntSpeedchunk wrote:There are some games that you own because they are games that every gamer should own (Carcassonne, Catan, Agricola, etc), there are games that you own because they are what you always want to play, there are games those games that occupy space for no other reason but nostalgia (Life, Monopoly, FireBall Island), and then there are those games you have because your spouse/partner/room-mate/other will only let you have your game collection if you have this game.The most important reason to own Electronic Mall Madness is that you can use to make other, even better games out of it.
Usually with zombies.
- [+] Dice rolls