Attention mall shoppers: Your nostalgia is about to peak. If you spent your youth moving tiny people around a plastic shopping center, you’re going to want to find a mall bench to sit down for this news. The iconic Mall Madness board game is coming back this fall. If you heard something, that was just my childhood self screeching.
Hasbro is bringing back the nostalgic board game, which was initially released in 1988. Mall Madness had updated releases in 1989, 1996, and 2004 — including special-edition Hannah Montana and Littlest Pet Shop versions — but it has been off shelves for over 15 years. If your youth was mall-less or you need a refresher before inevitably owning your friends and family in the game, the objective of Mall Madness was simple: be the first shopper to get all the items on your shopping list. It’s like your usual weekend errands, but the money is fake, the items are what your childhood self though grown-ups bought, and you don’t need to put on pants or leave the house. (Little did you know, the latter is actually the adulthood dream.)
The mall-themed game board had 22 different stores, faux ATM cards, and an electronic guide that told you where to go and what sales to try to catch. Coming Fall 2020, the game will be sold online and at most major retailers for $24.99. It can be played by 2 to 4 people and is suitable for ages 9 and up. (Emphasis on the “and up.”)
The original inspiration for the game, as Julien McCluney, Hasbro VP Global Brand Strategy & Marketing, tells Bustle, was, of course, the mall. “In the original Mall Madness — as well as the new edition — the game is centered around the exciting experience of going on a shopping spree with friends,” McCluney says. “The fact that so many adults reminisce about the original [game] more than 30 years after its initial release speaks volumes to its place in pop culture!”
Aside from actually playing the game, the best part of Mall Madness was, of course, the shop names. They were punny! They were silly! They had references that likely went over our young heads! There were the classic “I.M. Coughin Drug Store” and “M.T Wallet's Department Store.” You could stop at “Novel Idea Books” or “Aunt Chovie's Pizza.” My personal favorite was “DingaLing Phones” for no other reason than “DingaLing” is fun to say.
If you were a fan of the original and fear a reboot may ruin what you remember of the game, fear not: The 2020 version of Mall Madness is nearly identical to the original. While Mall Madness has gone through a handful of updates, the gameplay remains the same, McCluney assures Bustle. “While the look and feel of the mall in 2020 has changed, many of the game’s core elements remain the same,” McCluney says, noting things like specific store fronts will be getting an update. “In the new edition, players will get to choose a personality and play as Gwen, Sage, Avery, or Dax while in the original game, the pawns were different colors.” I call dibs on Sage.
Real malls may be dying, but our collective love of Mall Madness never really went away. This is evidenced by versions of the game being sold on Amazon and eBay at mark-ups more than three times the original price. It’s also evidenced by the fact that I break out in pre-teen sweat whenever I hear “attention mall shoppers” on a loudspeaker.
Hasbro hopes the forthcoming game release brings back fond memories from sleepovers, game nights, and the like, McCluney says. “We’re excited to bring that magic to a new generation of 'mall shoppers,' and invite millennials to re-live a favorite game from their childhood," McCluney says.
If your adult self is a feeling a little skeptical of the rosy-eyed idea of shopping, that's understandable. Is the game hyperconsumerist? I mean, yeah, the same way that Monopoly has an overtly capitalist history and games like Pretty Pretty Princess weren’t exactly progressive in terms of gender. Of course, it's possible to enjoy the game and acknowledge its short-comings simultaneously. I would never be able to play Hungry Hungry Hippos if I were constantly worried about the possibility of real marbles being fed to real hippos.
Hasbro’s relaunched version of Mall Madness will debut at the International Toy Fair on Feb. 23. If you want to beat the literal mall madness this fall, you can pre-order the new Mall Madness game through Bustle’s exclusive link here. You'll get yours just in time for the 2020 holiday season.
As far as other nostalgic games we can see in the future? McCluney says to stay tuned. “There are some fun games in the works we think many adults will be excited to see.” Fingers crossed they'll be as fun as Mall Madness.