What It Is
In the app Shoptown, players must save Shoptown from an evil tycoon and bring its shops back to life, saving an idyllic town's commercial strip. By managing retail shops, buying virtual goods from real-world local merchants, and meeting the needs of picky customers, players can make enough profit to buy the town back—one shop at a time—from the clutches of its greedy, sarcastic landlord.
As the game begins, Shoptown's stingy landlord Fat Ralph has let the once-charming downtown fall into disrepair, and it's the player's job to bring it back to its former glory. Players will learn the ins and outs of shopkeeping as they open, operate, and ultimately own their own businesses. Using their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and utilizing location-based technology, players can personalize their experience by discovering in-game inventory items for their stores from merchants in their very own real-world neighborhood—for example, a beach tote from Macy's. The products aren't necessarily specific to the store. We were also given the chance to purchase a men's wallet from Chase Bank. As players get to know the unique and quirky customers of Shoptown, they can strategically set the right prices for the right shopper. Players can share their successes and missteps with friends via Facebook Connect and earn Game Center achievements and special in-game items for their stores.
Why It’s Fun
This is a cute app for casual gamers. There's a little bit of strategy in this game as players must listen to feedback from customers so the inventory sells, choose which items to stock and how much to charge, and choose which upgrades to purchase for each store. Interacting with the wacky customers is fun as is being able to set up your own virtual store—and earning virtual money, of course.
Who It’s For
Shoptown is age-graded for 4 and up. There is reading required, so younger kids may need help from mom and dad.
What To Be Aware Of
There are some things that slow down the gameplay, such as waiting for the delivery truck to "deliver" items to the stores. The delivery truck operates in real time, which means you could literally be waiting 20 minutes for a store to be restocked. If you have earned at least three gems, you can opt for instant delivery, but if not, then you're stuck waiting with not much else to do within the game. (If you exit the app or turn off your device, time still counts down. And if you don't accept your delivery on time, Fat Ralph may steal it.)
The Facebook Connect component is optional, however, you won't receive the in-game bonus items. If young children are playing this game, remember that Facebook has a minimum age of 13 for children to have Facebook accounts. Children will have to use a parent's Facebook account. Parents are strongly advised to monitor children's online activities.
Shoptown is available for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, and iPod Touch (third and fourth generations).
To utilize the location-based feature, Shoptown requires an internet connection.
With the real-time component of the game, Shoptown may take players several days or weeks, depending on how often they play, to complete. But the road to completion is highly addicting and fun thanks to the cute graphics and wacky customer interactions.