Version tested iPhone
Having just spent the past week in Cologne at Gamescom, two things came across loud and clear: mobile games were conspicuous by their absence, and most non-mobile games were sequels.
Neither came as a revelation. Vast consumer events don't exactly lend themselves well to showing off handheld games of any kind, but it's still disappointing that few - if any - publishers took the opportunity to at least give it a go at a time when the sector is booming.
Instead, we saw colossal stands (and jet planes) devoted to big-budget games - most of which required people to queue up for hours to gain entry. If you didn't know any different, you wouldn't think that anything had changed in the market.
Perhaps you could reasonably argue that mobile games don't need to be showcased in the same way. The market is so fast-moving - and the games are so cheap and plentiful - that most of us are quite happy just taking a punt as and when. We don't need to know about these games months up front.
Even so, it would be great if there were a bigger presence. Being entirely invisible hardly feels like a sensible alternative.
Mega Mall Story
- iPhone - £2.49. Lite version available.
A handful of games down the line, you should know what to expect from Kairosoft by now - but that doesn't make it any easier to resist the obsessive allure of its bite-sized management sims.
This time around you must prove yourself as a retail maestro, with 15 years to build a "five-star mall of mega proportions".
With little more than loose change in the bank, the first few years are a meek struggle to ensure that your bakery, grocery store, florist and cafe don't keep running out of stock before the day's even over.
But with the inexplicable loyalty (and investment) of a few local regulars, you'll gradually accumulate enough 'hearts' to reinvest in providing new services that, ultimately, attract more custom to your ramshackle retail outfit.
Over time, of course, you inch your way to respectability, and can start to offer better quality goods and a wider variety of stores. And with cash in the bank, you can also work on promoting yourself better, hire better staff, and figure out effective ways of coaxing the local community to your burgeoning enterprise.
The upshot is that Mega Mall Story quickly gets under your skin, just like you hoped/feared it would. With its familiar interface, simple mechanics and hummable ditty, resistance to its effortless charm is completely futile. At this stage, you might as well buy shares in Kairosoft.