Jon Gracey's

Games That Rocked…Steve McNeil’s World – #18: Mega Mall Story

In iOS on December 12, 2012 at 10:04 am

Title: Mega Mall Story

Format: iOS (iPhone)

Released: 9th August, 2011


When Jon asked me to write an article for his blog about a game I love, I thought several things:

  1. Who on Earth does Jon Gracey think he is, setting me homework? Still, I guess I’ll have to do it, I can’t just tell him to get bent. That would seem rude.

  2. I want bacon. I really fancy some bacon.

  3. I’m going to struggle to do this.

Setting aside 1 and 2 for now, the problem alluded to in 3 is that I’m something of a gaming slut. I do occasionally stick with a game, seeing our ‘relationship’ through to the bitter/beautiful end, but there are far more games sat on my shelves whose end sequence/cum-shot (to continue the already regrettable slut analogy to its logical conclusion) I will never see.

Often these are games that simply ask too much of me. I might have a free weekend where I get immersed in the world of Red Dead Redemption, for example, but then for the next month or two work and home commitments make it impossible to return there. By the time I finally do, I’m vaguely aware that I used to love it there, but I can’t remember how to ride a horse or what L2 does, or find it in me to emotionally invest in some arsehole I don’t remember meeting who needs me to travel for ages on a train to get a badger pelt. As a result, I move on instead to my next failed ‘conquest’.


Whilst in my university days I could lock myself away for extended periods and smash the living biscuits out of a game, as a 30-something gamer my game-time is far more unevenly and sporadically distributed. Occasionally I do still manage it, though. I’ve bashed my way through the Uncharted series on PS3, and loved every minute – the adventure/FPS gaming, combined with awesome voice acting and graphics that make you want to scream at your non-gaming friends, “BUT LOOK AT THE WAY THE SUNLIGHT FILTERS THROUGH THE LEAVES, YOU DANCE MUSIC-LOVING ARSEHAT!”, mean that I’ve always made time for those particular games.

However, these days I’m far more likely to complete a game on my mobile phone than I am on a console so, to come back to the original reason for writing this article (dear God, that’s really been quite some pre-amble…), if I had to nominate one game recently that has made me a happy panda, it would be Kairosoft’s Mega Mall Story.


I appreciate that given the triple-A titles referred to in the first part of this article, this might seem something of a curveball, but I LOVE this game.

For those who don’t know, in Mega Mall Story (essentially a management sim, available on the iPhone and various other platforms) you start out with a tiny little shopping centre with a couple of shops in it, a little bit of seed funding to develop the site and not much else. Kairosoft are masters of ‘one more go’ gameplay, and appeal to the OCD/collecting man-child that I am at my core…


KAIROSOFT GAME: Hey Steve, if we get another $5000 dollars we can buy that bowling alley. Should only take a couple of minutes.

STEVE (AN IDIOT): Oh, okay, sure, that sounds pretty cool.

Two minutes later.

KAIROSOFT GAME: Hey Steve, that bowling alley’s just arrived, you lucky bitch!

STEVE: Awesome – thanks, I’ll just add that to the mall and call it a night.

KAIROSOFT GAME: Oh, well, you’ll need to add another storey to the building first, you’ve not got enough space left.

STEVE: What? Why didn’t you say that earlier?

KAIROSOFT GAME: It’s more fun to have surprises, isn’t it?


KAIROSOFT GAME: Hey, relax, big guy, give it another 30 seconds and we’ll have the funds we need.

STEVE: Oh, okay, I guess that’s cool.

Thirty seconds later.

KAIROSOFT GAME: Ready to build that extra floor for the bowling alley?

STEVE: Sure, then we’ll call that it.


GAME: Ummm….

STEVE: What?

KAIROSOFT GAME: Nothing…..It’s just that….


KAIROSOFT GAME: Well, there’s new shop available for research. And a development opportunity in the nearby area that could increase revenue. And you can build a subway station if we extend the building underground and…

STEVE: Aaaaaaaaaarrgggggghhhhhh!!!!!

EVIL GAME: You’re going to be so tired in the morning…



I LOVE games like this. They totally own me and I thank them for it. They can tickle my brain’s happy-centre with nothing more than the promise of a neat, comprehensive list of shops if I invest another six hours of my life in them. I can play them on the train, backstage at gigs, or on the loo (don’t you dare judge me, if you’re reading a gaming blog on the internet, you spend longer playing games on the toilet than you do doing the thing most people go there for) so I don’t lose continuity with them in the way that I do with the more traditional titles (Red Dead Redemption, et al). I can play them anywhere, whenever I get a free moment.

It’s not just this game, either – pretty much every Kairosoft game for the iPhone has totally owned me at some point. Game Dev Story, Pocket Academy, Epic Astro Story, Dungeon Village…the list goes on. AND ON. However, Mega Mall Story particularly appealed to my OCD/Neatness brain, as everything in your mall is laid out in neat little rectangles. For several days, I spent longer laying out the most visually appealing set of rectangular 8-bit shops than I did ANYTHING ELSE IN MY LIFE (another appeal of these games is their classic 8-bit style graphic design – it makes me all cosy inside). This is entirely unhealthy, and not the actions of a balanced man, and I encourage anyone reading this to immediately stop what they are doing and download everything by Kairosoft right now. You’ll hate me and love me for this in equal measure.


As a final aside, readers may be interested to know that, whilst writing this, I actually started playing Hot Springs Story on my iPhone to remind me why I love Kairosoft games, and got somewhat sucked in. So, if this article seems to end rather abruptly at this point, know that this is because I’ve decided I’ve got to play that game in the bath rather than make this article more satisfying structurally. Which tells you everything you need to know about Kairosoft games. God, I love Kairosoft games.

Steve McNeil

P.S: Readers may also be interested, and relieved, to know that shortly after being asked to write this article, I found and ate some bacon.


(ed – to the left of Sam Pamphilon; there are no photos of him on his own NOT wearing sodding Christmas jumpers)


Steve McNeil is a fantastic writer and comedian. I like him. He likes bacon.

He’s also in a great double-act, McNeil & Pamphilon with Sam Pamphilon (see above photo). They’re attractive and great. See them before they’re too big for you to afford it, you cheap bastard.



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