My first impulse for this article was to simply throw up some images of these horrid polygonal graphics from the year 2000, like so…
And gaze into the abyss of licensed games and how they can go so totally wrong, particularly when “real life” celebrities are involved. Heck, we’re not even dealing with a pair of celebrities that chiefly stand for something, so unlike a Spice Girls game that could focus on music, or an Arnold Schwarzenegger game that could feature some Danny DeVito based minigames, all we have here is, basically, Teen Girl Squad: The Game. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were always marketed with a sort of nebulous “girly girl” aesthetic, and it’s kind of hard to base an entire game around, what, talking about cute boys and going to the mall? Never mind that the twins were television stars almost literally from birth, they’re just like you, average teenage girl consumer!
Anyway, I was getting my cynicism all up and ready to go (haha, like my cynicism isn’t always ready to go) when I decided to do bit of googling to see if there was any extra info on this game. And you know what I found? Nothing. Sure, I found a couple of winking “ha ha look at how bad this game is” Let’s Plays, and the usual “where to buy” sites, but aside from that, all I turned up was a Wikipedia entry not for the game itself, but for all the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen video games. First of all, there’s apparently nine of those games, which is mind boggling. But once I got past that bit of insanity, I felt an unusual emotion.
I felt bad for Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall.
This is FGC entry #132, and I have a tendency to do the same googling for any given featured game. Sometimes I find entire histories, some games have multiple dedicated sites, and some have massive wikis all of their own. Kid Chameleon, a game that I consider almost completely forgotten by the general gaming consciousness, has its own, fairly complex wiki.
Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall has a bullet point on Wikipedia, and one lonely FAQ on Gamefaqs.
So, for all the lost souls out there, here’s a complete guide to Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall.
Hub Area: The Mall
Alright, here’s the deal: Mary-Kate and Ashley went to the mall, but they only had five dollars, because they’re broke teenage girls like you or me. They purchased a broken piece of jewelry, and were warned by the mysterious mall kiosk woman never to combine the two halves. They did it anyway, because no one in the history of the world has ever cared what someone working a mall kiosk thinks. Turns out that was a bad idea, because the combined necklace (or whatever it’s supposed to be) broke all of time and space, and now Mary-Kate and Ashley are stuck at the mall for all eternity. And it’s not even a good mall! It doesn’t seem to have a single video game store! … Actually, yeah, that makes sense, teenage girls don’t play video games.
There is a way out of this predicament, though! If Mary-Kate and Ashley collect the
seven five chaos emeralds, they can use chaos control and bust out of this hellish purgatory that doesn’t even have a Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Each magical emerald is locked behind a series of challenges loosely based on typical mall venues, like…
We’ll start with the most typical “video game” level: Lizzie’s Lunch. MKaA:MMM interprets popular teenage hangout spot the food court as some kind of retro 50’s diner. Fair enough, it beats having to shred up newspapers for a Taco Bell entree. Lizzie’s Lunch sees the twin of your choice roller-skating around and fulfilling orders for customers. Somebody ordered a pizza? Roll over to the pizza conveyor belt (or… something?) and then zoom that inevitably terrible mall pizza to the waiting customer. The first level only features customers that all want the same thing, but as the challenges progress, customers will demand different entrees. This, luckily, is wildly easy, because each customer always has the “I want this” speech bubble hovering overhead, so if you have the mental acumen of a three year old, you should be able to slide the circle into the round hole. The greatest challenge is that Mary-Kate and Ashley control like there’s no such thing as traction, which I would blame on the roller skates if they didn’t control exactly the same way on any other mall surface…
Oh, and you have to complete five levels before obtaining the emerald. This takes all of ten minutes, but it’ll seem much longer.
Just Say Snow
After the game that would one day be Diner Dash, we’ve got the second most video game-y stage, Just Say Snow. The ski shop store (every mall has one of those, right?) transforms into a complete snowboard racing level. As far as snowboard games go, this one ranks somewhere around Final Fantasy 7’s infamous minigame, and lags far behind Snowboard Kids, the preeminent snowboarding game of the era. … It was a weird era. Regardless, once again, the twins control like they just finished up a job in Raccoon City, and, while this whole racing thing isn’t all that difficult, it’s clunky as all get out. That said, it’s pretty typical snowboarding, with “booster plates” and sweet jumps and an ever-present need to be rad at all times. The whole thing kind of plays like an early precursor to Sonic Riders, and… wait! That’s not good at all!
One nice thing, you have the ability to choose your snowboarding opponent, so you can effectively pick your difficulty level. Of course, there’s no real choice at all, as one of your possible opponents is named Slash McCoy. I hope to one day be as cool as Slash McCoy…
Next we have what one would likely expect from a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen game: trying on clothes! Oh boy! Fash (which certainly sounds like what a forty year old game developer would think the cool kids are saying) is a trendy clothing store that transforms into a complete fashion show. You’ve got to pick out the outfits for the twins, and then the game portion occurs when you have to take perfect pictures of these newly discovered models.
I assure you, being an adult male playing a game wherein I dress up teenagers and then take their pictures does not in any way make me want to die. I’ve played Senran Kagura, I can do this.
Anyway, I want to say Fash is the easiest level in the game, as I have the fashion sense of a mutant, and I still managed to score the emerald on the first go. I guess you just have to take pretty pictures? I don’t think my Saint’s Row character would win any fashion shows. She’s always running around in a bathrobe…
Oh man, remember when there used to be music stores in malls? Or music stores at all? Good times, good times.
Anyway, this is part 2 of “what would you expect from the Olsens”. You get to make a music video! Kinda! Pick out Mary-Kate and Ashley’s dance moves, arrange them in some sort of coherent order, and then step on to the stage, where you can control camera angles and pile on the special effects. And I do mean “pile on the special effects”, because the win condition for this section is based on filling up a number of gauges with as many flourishes as possible. Shoot the confetti cannon over and over again! Change camera angles constantly! Lasers upon lasers! MORE LASERS!
Incidentally, this is the most toyish section of the game. While you are trying to earn that emerald that will release the twins from this waking hell, you can actually use the Playstation’s Monster Rancher capabilities to use your own CDs and get MK&A dancing to whatever tunes you’d like. If you want to choreograph some teeny boppers to dance along to Lyle Lanley’s Monorail Song, have at it. Nah, forget it, that’s more of a Shelbyville idea.
Overall, it’s dumb, but this might be the most unique part of the game. Though it does still lose points for making videos without Kris Kross.
Catch a Wave
Finally, we have Catch a Wave, the surf shop. Now, you would be forgiven for imagining some kind of surfing minigame, or perhaps something where the twins play the part of lifeguards, and have to rescue drowning swimmers, or maybe even a simple beach treasure hunt using a metal detector and the controller’s vibration function. Nope all around. This is a stalking simulator.
See, apparently the Olsen Twins spread a little rumor that they were dating a pair of hunky lifeguards…
Well… “hunky” lifeguards, and, whoops, that’s a complete lie. So you’ve got to do the typical teenage girl activity of falsifying evidence and creating pictures of Olsens with cute boys.
The game here is like… I don’t know… Pokémon Snap? The boys are wily and random creatures, so you’ve got to scan the streets for their presence, find ‘em, and then snap a picture before they cower behind a trash can or something. Make sure everything is centered and lined up, and be sure to not run out of film. Why, if you take perfect pictures, you should have photographic proof of your fake relationship in a week or so when the pictures come back!
Complete all of these challenges correctly, and you’ll collect the five emeralds and be able to escape this mall of horrors. If you for some reason enjoy this game, you can save a New Game+ File, and replay your favorite activities. There’s also a slot machine where you can expend “bonus tokens”… but you’ve already got plenty of Skinner Boxes on your phone, so I wouldn’t bother.
And that’s a mall game, folks!
FGC #132 Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall
- System: Playstation. I wouldn’t expect a rerelease anytime soon.
- Number of players: One. Huh, you would think twins were made for two player games, and the food court and snowboarding levels are practically made for competition…
- Favorite Level: Catch a Wave gets bonus points for being just plain bonkers, but I actually kind of enjoy the Lizzie’s Lunch stage. Okay, that’s not really true… I dislike Lizzie’s Lunch the least of all the games.
- Abbreviate this: MKaA:MMM would make a pretty good onomatopoeia. “Oh no! That bird is firing a machine gun!” “MKAAMMM!!!”
- Fuller House: That’s right, Olsens, you can try to avoid the stink of worthless cash-grab nostalgia shows all you want, we know you’re responsible for nine video game atrocities.
- Did you know? In any of the stages with a monitor in the background, if you pause the game, a tinier version of the pause menu will appear on the distant monitors. I can’t be certain if this is a glitch or an amazing bit of detail. I want to say it’s the former…
- Would I play again: I feel bad for this game, but I also feel bad playing the game, so… no.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Ultimate NES Remix! Time to play all your favorite games for seconds at a time! Please look forward to it!