Shop Empire 2
Today, a shopping strip with a Dollar Store and a nail salon... tomorrow, the world! Literally, because in Little Giant World's adorable sim game Shop Empire 2, the only thing itty-bitty are the graphics as you work to build a consumer empire that spans the globe. In each country, you'll be able to build the mall of... well, not your dreams, since what puts money in your pockets is what the customer wants. Book stores, salons, pharmacies, groceries, even entertainment halls to hold exciting events and more can all be built if you have the cash... and the additional dough to hire the staff to run and maintain them. Just make sure you have the facilities you need to handle celebrity customers... and the staff to take down prowlers! Because apparently 80% of, like, any given country's populace turns to a life of crime when the lights go out. Seriously. People are jerks.
The game's tutorial assistant will walk you through the basics, but once you familiarize yourself with the game's menus, everything is pretty simple. Build things with the money you have, and keep your customers happy to earn more. Your store runs on a standard 24-hour schedule, with customers and most staff appearing during the day unless you tell them otherwise by changing their hours, and the shops closed at night... during which you'll want to make sure you have security employed to keep an eye out for shady burglars! If time is passing too slowly for you, you can use the buttons at the bottom of the screen to speed it up a few times. Both your staff and your shops can be upgraded to increase various stats and effectiveness, though while your stores can be upgrade anytime with enough cash, your staff needs to have their experience meter full before you can promote them. Complete all the missions for each country to unlock a new one to play in, and new things to build. You can even transfer funds between malls!
Shop Empire 2 feels a lot like Kairosoft's Mega Mall Story in the way you build and play, even down to the random celebrity shoppers with the goofy parody names. It's a gorgeous little game with its detailed environments, and there's something undeniably addictive about its simple yet charming approach to casual simulation. On the other hand, it does feel like it's missing something to keep it from getting repetitive after a while, with grinding through days for cash taking up the majority of the gameplay. (Fortunately, the game doesn't autopause, so if you're lazy or, say, need to write a review while you play, you can let it run in another tab or window while you do something else.) As a result, it's a cute, fun game, but potentially a bit too simple for some players, or even a bit too clunky with its multitude of menus and the way the tutorial glosses over some of the finer points you'll need to figure out for yourself. But with upgrades, new shops and new locations, and achievements galore, if Shop Empire 2 gets its hooks into you, you'll be feverishly sweating over your profits and dirty toilets for a long, long time. Uh... it's... more appealing than I just made that sound. Trust me.