Now, my unending love for Shopping Malls does not cloud my vision from seeing that these are troubling times for some Shopping Centres out there, with the combination of online retail, rival Mall proximity and people becoming generally less sociable taking chunks out of the footfall in vulnerable Malls. This means that the managers of these Malls have a helluva time continually juggling a plethora of issues in order to keep them profitable. Now you can experience the same nightmare yourself on a new nineties-style in-browser game, with some cyberpunks and an evil Jeff Bezos thrown in for good measure!

To start you must choose your character

You meet your broker early, he guides you through the game. Just watch out for some seriously dodgy suggestions!

While the game serves to illustrate that running a successful Mall is nigh on impossible, as per the current gloomy and negative Mall narrative constantly streaming out of most mainstream media outlets, it’s actually a lot of fun as you have to frenetically pummel your mouse in order to keep stores and shoppers happy. The retro-style game was developed by bloomberg.com as a fun way of allowing its visitors to try their hand at Mall management - while some of the scenarios are completely out there, many of the ideas in the game are rooted in real life examples.

You begin by choosing your character - there are four in total including a millionaire Beanie Babies enthusiast and a singer who had a one-hit wonder back in the eighties, no doubt using Mall tours as a way to promote her hit single back in the day! The problem is, though, that the Mall you purchase is already in deep trouble and you are immediately thrust into the game by deciding on your plan of action to turn things around. All the while you’ll have a sleazy broker (stay on his good side!) who will try to get you to buy into all sorts of crazy ideas such us robot security guards and weird Mall play areas. He will also give you the opportunity to woo some big-name brands to your Centre - they’ll always say no, but what the heck.

The main entrance to your very own Shopping Mall

The all-important food court. The slight red tinge you see comes on when you're in some serious trouble!

While your broker is coming up with all sorts of ridiculous ideas to enliven your Mall, store owners will endlessly harass and threaten you with closure if you don’t let them pay a whole lot less rent. You can either bend to their collective will or stand strong, in which case there is a 50/50 chance that they will close. Either way you will go bankrupt. If that wasn’t enough stress for you, your Mall suffers from frequent rat infestations brought on by your filthy customers dropping food and dirt everywhere, and you are also regularly visited by German cyberpunks who make a nuisance of themselves until you do something about it.

Your (rightfully) terrified-looking financial adivsor and sleazy broker try to help you to succeed

This is the first game bloomberg.com has made, so it does seem a bit out of the blue. It is a fantastically smooth and well thought out game. People have already been hammering it in order to get onto the leaderboard - you can’t really win, it’s just a matter of how many days you can survive before seeing an evil Jeff Bezos wearing an Amazon puffer jacket cackling maniacally on the game over screen. If you do get on the leaderboard, you get to print your very own certificate of achievement once you have immortalised yourself by entering your initials. The current number one spot is held by GOD, who managed to stay open for over 2000 days. I’ve been lucky to hit 300 days so far.

The game does cheat though - I have played it through numerous times and many of the options have a negative outcome no matter your decision - for instance, if you choose to go for the driverless shuttle-bus, it goes berserk and people are injured. However, if you don’t go for it, someone else does and they become roaringly successful. Also, the various micro quests are fun but impossible. No fair, Bloomberg! That said, I am aware that the idea of the game is to prove it’s impossible to be successful. But gosh darnit is this a fun game. It is truly addicting; things seem to be going to well for a time and there is such a sense of euphoria, but when it goes wrong it goes wrong spectacularly and hastily!

The game is dotted with several fun mini-games

One bad online review and you're toast!

Now, Bloomberg editor Thomas Houston does confirm on Twitter that the game is in fact winnable, but I’m not buying it. I can either keep happiness up and then lose or keep profits up and then lose - there seems to be no middle ground. Now, I’m not calling the famous news and media company a liar (get back, lawyers!), but I haven’t seen one screenshot of a winning screen. That’s all I’m saying! We definitely recommend that you give this game a go, it’s available at the click of a button and is great fun, despite the fact that you will lose on every occasion.

Check it out here.

This is fine. I'm sure things will work out just fine

Be prepared to see evil Bezos often!

Let us know if you manage to win! Best of luck.

All images: Bloomberg

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