‘Mall Madness’ game review
By Ed Appleby, Illustrator
It’s the height of summer and the malls are packed with chattering youngsters, window shoppers, and those trying to find the perfect item on clearance. But why struggle with the crowds when you can stay home and play a game all about shopping?
Mall Madness is a roll-and-move game for two to four players designed in 1988 by Michael Gray and published by Milton Bradley. In the game, players take the roll of one of eight different teenagers going on an afternoon shopping spree at their local mall. The first one to cross six items off their list and get to their final destination wins.
“Simple” doesn’t begin to describe the gameplay here. The version of the game I played was from 2004 and involved an electronic rolling system, which has been the dominant version since 1989. The only random factors of the game are the roll of the dice, the path you take to the store, and how you manage your money. Purchasing items requires an unintuitive process of swiping your card to see if the item is available and then paying cash.
Shockingly, I actually found this game a lot of fun to play. There are some subtle jokes hidden in each character’s list, like how the skateboarding stoner has to run to the science store for a “chemistry kit” to be used for an undisclosed purpose. The mindless gameplay works in the game’s favour, and it is most fun for players who like to adopt their role and act out their characters while playing, without complex mechanics getting in their way. I also found the multilevel board to be quaint, and I absolutely love the illustration style of the 2004 version.
Mall Madness is not recommended for the serious gamer, but if you have an old version kicking around or if you stumble across one in a thrift store, pull it out for a fun bit of nostalgia.