Mall Madness: A relative simple board game about going on a shopping spree, manufactured by Milton Bradley (Now a division of Hasbro), became a staple for girls (and some guys) growing up in the late 80's and early 90's. I thought about taking a look at Mall Madness through the years and see how far the game has evolved over the years. Let's start with the original.
The original Mall Madness was released in 1988 and was part of the Flipslider series of mini board games that Milton Bradley manufactured. The objective was to buy EXACTLY $200 of merchandise. Players did this by spinning the "reels" on the Flipslider. One reel revealed up to how many spaces your piece could travel that turn, and the other reel told what store you must travel to.
Should you arrive at the store you spun on that turn, you were allowed to deduct the amount of that item in that store from your $200. There were also spaces on the board where you could quickly cross from one side of the mall to the other, and the Bank where if landed on or if spun, would add $30 to your current score.
The game was meant to be played over the course of maybe 10 to 15 minutes. Roughly the amount of time of a kid's lunch or recess break in school.
All in all, the original Mall Madness was not a bad game by any means. In 1989, Milton Bradley would take the game full scale, and would become the game that we know today.
Mall Madness Goes Electronic
The first printing of Electronic Mall Madness occurred in 1989, one year after the original Flipslider game made it's premiere.
Electronic Mall Madness was one game in a series of three electronic board games that Milton Bradley manufactured at the time, including Dream Phone and The Omega Virus.
Gone are the reels of the Flipslider, Gone is the objective of spending exactly $200. The mall now has twenty two stores (compared to the 12 the original Flipslider game had), spread out over two "floors".
The reels have been replaced with a computer console at the center of the board. This console controls all aspects of game play, including piece movement.
Most people remember that assembling this game took at least 20 to 30 minutes before it could be played. However this is not necessarily true. It is true that when the game first comes out of the box, the pieces of the mall have to be assembled, and this action is what will take the 20 to 30 minutes people remember. The walls of the mall lack their artwork, which you must put on the walls yourself, and must be done specifically to ensure that the right artwork lines up with its proper store. Once this is done the first time however, unless the cards fall out of the wall structures, it is unlikely this step will have to be repeated.
Once assembled, the game board truly looks like a mall, 10 stores are on the first floor, 12 stores are on the second floor. The computer console is at the center of the board, which also serves as the escalators for getting up and down the two floors of the mall. Elevators for switching floors are also located in the two stores at each end of the mall.
They are two primary objectives that must be accomplished to win the game. The objective of buying exactly $200 of merchandise from the flipslider printing was replaced. Players are given a shopping list at the beginning of the game and must buy at least six items on that list. The amount of items needed could be changed before game play commences, up to a maximum of ten items. The second objective begins once a player buys the required number of items. That player must now get out of the mall, at the same entrance they came into the mall. The first player that completes their shopping list and gets out of the mall, wins.
Players are given $150 to begin the game, and the computer console will announce in timed intervals which of the twenty two stores are having sales and clearances. The sales and clearances are new aspects of the game, seeing money conservation is a strategy that must be employed in the electronic version. Any player that runs out of money, or is in need of more money to buy items, must travel to the ATM on the second floor of the mall during their turn to receive more money. The ATM will dispense a random amount of money from $20 to $100, in $20 increments.
Due to the randomness of the computer, a player could be sent to the rest rooms, the video arcade, get an item at a clearance price when the store is not holding a sale or clearance, or other events that could occur that have advantages or disadvantages, depending on the player's current situation.
All in all, when Electronic Mall Madness was fully assembled and kids were playing with it, the game usually got the attention of every one in the room.
Electronic Mall Madness would get a second printing in 1996, in time for the Christmas holiday. Other than the color of the walls of the mall and the computer console being changed to a grey color (the original was a peach color), game play was the same. Mall Madness would not be printed again for another eight years.
Mall Madness In The 21st Century
Hasbro would completely redesign Mall Madness for the 2004 printing. The original console was square and was replaced by a more round console. The colors of the walls and the console itself were changed from a gray color to a purple. The voice of the computer was also updated to be more pleasing to the ear. Game play was nearly identical to the 1989 and 1996 printings, with some elements removed and one element added.
Gone was the element to play a seven, eight, nine, or ten item game. The default of six is used, and can not be changed.
Gone was the objective of being the first to get out of the mall, once you have made the necessary amount of purchases. The console will now tell you at what entrance or store (yes a store can now be a final destination) your piece must get to, in order to win. This final destination will change if you take too long to get there, so players must try to get there as fast as they can.
The new element that was added to Mall Madness was the "Food" element. Located on the second floor near the ATM, is the "Food Court". The other places where this rule is in effect is the Ice Cream Shop and the Movie Theater.
Should you choose to go to the Food Court, Ice Cream Shop, or Movie Theater (Be it you go yourself, or are moved there by special instructions), you receive a token that can extend the amount of spaces you can move up to three more spaces, on any turn of your choosing. You can have only two of these tokens at any one time, and may use both at the same time if you wish. The exception to this rule is if you are sent to the rest rooms, or are stopped by security. You may not use your food tokens to avoid the penalty, your turn is immediately over, and yes the computer console DOES remember when your turn ends.
The "Food" rule is COMPLETELY optional, because the computer console is not programmed to remember if a player has acquired a food token. The computer can tell a player (or players) to visit places where you can get food tokens, but is not programmed to remember that move. The only thing the computer console is programmed to remember is the number of purchases a player has made during the game and when a player's turn ends.
This printing of Mall Madness would continue until 2008, when Hasbro acquired a license deal with Disney to create the first character licensed version of Mall Madness.
Mall Madness Goes Commercial
The 2008 printing of Mall Madness would be the first to be a licensed version of Mall Madness, featuring the characters of Disney's Hannah Montana.
This printing of Mall Madness, appearance wise, is identical to the 2004 printing, using the same color scheme. Players are able to play as one of the four characters from the Hannah Montana TV show, Miley, Lilly, Jackson, and Oliver.
Game play is identical to the 2004 printing with one new element added.
A fifth credit card is added to this printing of Mall Madness. This card is called a "Buying Card" not a "Bank Card". The first player to reach the ATM on the second floor, is the player that can take possession of the Buying Card. This card is in essence a potential free item, because the item is charged to Hannah, not the player.
The Buying Card creates the element of tag in the game because if any player lands on or passes over a player that has possession of the Buying Card, the player that has possession of the Buying Card must give it to the player that passed over them or lands on them.
Once the Buying Card is used however, even if the purchase was unsuccessful, the card is put back at the ATM space, and is up for grabs once again to a player that visits the ATM next.
Similar to the "Food" rule (which is also present in this printing but again optional), the Buying Card rule is optional, for the same reasons. The computer console is not programmed to remember who has possession of the Buying Card. The console is only programmed to remember who used it to buy an item, and if the purchase was successful.
The printing of Mall Madness: Hannah Montana would continue until the TV show was canceled in January of 2011. Hasbro concluded the printing of Mall Madness: Hannah Montana at that time, and began a new printing featuring the characters of the Littlest Pet Shop toy line and TV show.
Mall Madness Today
Hasbro began printing Mall Madness: The Littlest Pet Shop in February 2011, not too long after Hannah Montana was canceled. This printing of Mall Madness features four animals from The Littlest Pet Shop franchise, and their "owners" who carry their pets around the mall. This time each store is specifically themed towards The Littlest Pet Shop.
Appearance wise, the mall has the same color scheme as the 2004 and Hannah Montana printings. The only changes cosmetic wise are the names of the stores, and locations, changed to reflect the names of stores and places in The Littlest Pet Shop franchise.
Game play for Mall Madness: The Littlest Pet Shop, is identical to the 2004 printing. The "Buying Card" from Mall Madness: Hannah Montana was removed.
One MAJOR difference for Mall Madness: The Littlest Pet Shop compared to other printings of Mall Madness, is that Mall Madness: The Littlest Pet Shop is ready to play right out of the box, NO ASSEMBLY IS REQUIRED. In fact, the mall IS THE BOX for this printing. When the box is opened, the game board unfolds, revealing the first floor of the mall. All the player must do is put the console at the center of the board, and put the second floor on its supports, and the game is ready to play. This solves a major concern that consumers had with other printings, that the game was somewhat of a chore to assemble and disassemble.
Mall Madness has had a run of six different printings, spanning the course of 25 years, and kids these days are still enjoying it. Girls have been playing it at slumber parties, mothers have played it with their daughters, fathers have played it with their daughters, brothers have played it with their sisters, I even read a review on Amazon.com that a little 8 year old boy wanted it over a Nerf dart gun and the entire family had a ball with the game. Or in my case, I am a board game enthusiast, have been all my life, and a childhood friend got me hooked on this game when I was young, and being 33 still play it with her (and now her daughter) from time to time.
Mall Madness while was originally printed for girls in mind (even though the original printing in 1989, had male avatars and still has male avatars to this day), has been enjoyed by girls and boys, old and young alike.
Not bad for a simple game about going on a shopping spree in a mall.