[Every month (since last month...) Analoge showcases an overlooked, under-appreciated, or just plain weird piece of video game history in a segment called Object Obscura]
Have you ever thought to yourself, "I need new friends, but what am I going to do about all these old ones?"
Have you ever thought that Monopoly wasn't exasperating enough or needed more Engrish?
Ever wondered what Italian tastes like?
These questions and more are answered by Top Shop, A video game for your television set.
Top Shop is like Monopoly meets Mario Party set in a mall. Located in hell. You set a monetary goal at the start of the game then set off, buying stores like the mogul you are. When you land on a store you own, you can restock one of your stores. When you land on a store that another player owns, you can buy either one or two items, and if the store is sold out, you can buy it out from under them. When you have more stores in a row, you can not only stock more items, but more expensive items. Sometimes, instead of rolling to move, you'll be forced to pick a card out of three. The effects range from closing all the stores for a few turns (Landing on a closed store prompts the message "Temporary Closed") to GIVING EVERY OTHER PLAYER THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY AS YOU. Also, when you buy items, you're occassionally given points which you can use at the bank to help yourself or (as more often is the case) fuck over others in various ways. If you're smug as fuck you can spend your points on the "Chrip-Chrip" shoes. After you buy these, you squeak as you move across the board. That's it. Your smugness will be pounded into the other player's brains with every squeak you make. Way to go, dick.
But, the genius of Top Shop is in it's charm. You end up forgiving the game for taking all your money or making you skip the bank because it's just so darn ridiculous. The shops are hilarious. George Video, Tour Tours, Italian.
Also, the characters that aren't just generic anime-looking people are quite awesome, such as a cactus in a pot with wheels on it or a weird, purple blobby guy who carries an umbrella for some reason. One of the cards you can get announces that there is a hurricane outside. Clearly, there is only one thing to do when fatally severe weather hits the mall... HAVE A 50% OFF SALE!
In one of the malls, the bank is run by two monkeys. One of them is smiling and the other looks really worried. I can only assume that they (being monkeys) are not allowed to run a bank. "We'll never pull this off, man! They're gonna catch on for sure!", says one. "Stop being such a sissy!" says the other. "Just play it cool. They'll never know."
By all outward appearances you might be lulled into thinking this game is family-friendly. You couldn't be more wrong. Sure, there aren't any shock troops breaking into the mall from the ceiling and rappelling down to where there are prostitutes who they have sex with then kill to get their money back, but this game is not for families. This is a game that you win by being the biggest bastard you can be. So your mom's got a 4 way Aesthetics Julia? Fuck that shit! Save up some points and close that fucker down! You say your wife is one space away from the bank? She better hope you don't get there first and spend some points to switch places with her. Oh, little Jimmy with the broken arm just can't quite seem to land on something he owns and half his stores are sold out? Well, I've got plenty of cash. I'll be happy to take those stores off your hands, chump!
In conclusion, I can't really recommend Top Shop to you, unless I hate you. If I hate you then get it. Get it twice, and let's play.
In a recent game, my friend and I were both relatively close to the target amount, so much so that he would have won in one turn. I hit the bank, spent the last of my points on "Recieve Money (stores x150)" and won. He didn't talk to me for a week.