While farming and restaurant games may be the most popular with players on Facebook, there is also a growing number of games available dealing with shopping, retail, and malls in general (Mall Dreams from Metrogames for one). It's no surprise, then, that we see the release of another mall-tycoon game, this one called Magic Mall, from the folk at Mob Science.
Magic Mall just launched on Facebook yesterday, and it has already claimed over 13,000 users. The game allows you to, you guessed it, build your very own shopping mall, store by store, until your heart is content. The game starts you off by asking you to build a Coffee Shop, in this case known as the Lava Java Store.
As computer controlled visitors shop eat at your cafes and restaurants or shop in your stores, each location's unique coin count will fill. This is similar to any number of Facebook games, in that you'll have to come back to the game every few hours to "cash out" those properties, adding your profits to your in-game total.
With that being said, meet us behind the break to see what else makes Magic Mall tick.
In addition to building your own mall, you'll be able to "shop" in your friends' malls, which is where elements from FrontierVille, of all games, start to come into play. Each of your friends' malls will show shopping carts over their stores and restaurants. You'll be able to click on these carts to "shop" in that particular store, earning you experience points or collectible items that can be used back in your own Mall. Here's the catch - these bonus items appear to the side of each store, just like Bonus items like experience points and coins appear in FrontierVille after doing just about anything in the game.
You can use these collectible items when it comes time to upgrade your stores. Upgraded stores will collect more coins for you before they stop (and wait for you to cash them out, that is). For instance, upgrading the Lava Java coffee shop (that I mentioned at the beginning of this post), will raise its coin capacity from 500 coins to 1000. However, you'll need to collect ingredients, or building parts, just like in FrontierVille in order to actually do any upgrading.
For the sake of the argument, the Lava Java upgrade requires eight each of five different items, so you'll need to add a lot of posts to your wall for your neighbors to respond to, or buy single ingredients for "Magic Cash," the game's premium currency.
One last comparison worth noting is the inclusion of an Energy Bar, that drains as you complete tasks other than building new stores in your mall.
After you've built a few stores, you'll have to wait for your stores to earn money so that you can earn experience points, but while you wait, you can purchase decorative items to customize your mall, including new flooring types, decorations like benches and potted plants, new wallpapers and new doors.
While the stores in Magic Mall are nice enough (jewelry stores, toy stores, play areas for children, a pretzel shop and even an arcade), there really aren't that many stores to choose from just yet - likely due to the fact that the game is so new. Still, if all buildings and eventual upgrades work as the Lava Java upgrade does, it seems like all of your progress will be slow coming, if it comes at all, as you won't be able to increase your profits unless you can somehow convince other people to play the game with you. With a lack of gameplay other than the aforementioned... well, good luck in that pursuit.
Where other Facebook games normally push you through a lengthy tutorial, and in the process force you to level up to level 3 or 4, your progress in Magic Mall can come to a stand still without even reaching the halfway point of level 1. Unless you want to flood your mall with the same types of stores ad nauseum in order to boost your experience point total, you'll likely find the game fairly boring. Hopefully with enough time, Mob Science will add more gameplay, or easier ways to upgrade buildings, as there just isn't that much to do in the game's current state.
If you'd like to give Magic Mall the benefit of the doubt by joining in, head over to the game's page on Facebook.
Play Magic Mall on Facebook -->