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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: New Style Boutique 3: Styling Star (Nintendo 3DS)

fashion simulation games

Review by Matt C.

One of the best things about the Nintendo, as a publisher, is the wide range of games they release. They cater to every taste, with everything from Zelda and Metroid to Brain Training and Muscle March, and rather than a way to make a quick buck, Nintendo's "casual" games tend to be just as high-quality as the powerhouse franchises.

Case in point: New Style Boutique 3: Styling Star is one of the most enjoy 3DS games I've played this year. A simple, compelling game loop built around running a fashion boutique, coupled with the memorable interactions of delightfully quirky cast, makes for a game that's difficult to put down.

New Style Boutique 3 opens with you moving to a new city to meet with your uncle Tim. He runs a struggling clothing store, but fashion isn't really his gambit—thus, he decides to entrust the shop to you and go travelling. Just like that, you're the new owner of Timorrow (don't worry, you can change the name), and it's up to you to make it thrive.

fashion games 3DS

To do so, you need to make your customers happy, which means helping them with their fashion dilemmas and giving them style advice. Do this well, and they'll buy your clothes—but, more importantly, they'll become customers for life, and tell their friends about your boutique.

If you're not an expert on fashion, fret not. Customers' requests start out very simple, with things like "I want some black trousers". You'll have a few different suitable options, in which case you can choose what you think will best fit the customer and their style—and better choices make a happier customer, netting you more experience points—but you can't really fail, unless you try to sell them something way out of their budget. The happy client leaves with their goods, you make a profit, and you earn some experience towards increasing your stylist rank. So goes the basic game loop, and it's surprisingly compelling in its simplicity.

As the game moves along and your level increases, requests become a tad more complex. People will ask for things of a particular style, and sometimes they'll request a full outfit. At the same time, the game is good at giving you all the information you need to fulfill those requests. Just by playing, you'll get familiar with the different styles and how they fit together, and the more you interact with the same customers, the better acquainted you'll become with their personal tastes. As you rank up and turn a profit, you also gain access to more clothes from different brands, letting you stock a broader range.

Style Savvy 3DS

As requests become more complex and specific, there'll inevitably be times when you don't have anything suitable. Fortunately, the people of New Style Boutique 3 are a patient bunch, and customers will happily wait while you check in with the wholesalers to stock up. This isn't ideal, because that's time you could otherwise spend serving other people and raking in the cash, but it's good to know that there's the option. Alternatively, you can just tell the customer you can't help and watch them dejectedly walk out, but that—obviously—isn't ideal.

As your stylist rank increases and the story develops, new features become available. You can create your own brand and design your own clothes, which can be sold in your boutique and shared with other players online. The design interface is surprisingly simple and intuitive; you simply choose a basic clothing item, apply patterns and logos as you see fit, and play around with the colours until you have something you like. Later on in the game, you can also take your styling beyond the realm of clothes, thanks to a hairdresser and beautician whom you can consult to give your customers the full package.

There's a wide range of items available to decorate your shop and your apartment, and you have the full range of your stock when it comes to styling your own character—such after the perks of running a clothing store. At any time in the game, you can take a screenshot of the top screen by pressing the Y button, and you can edit these images with a variety of filters and frames before sharing them on social media in real life. There's an extensive range of in-game achievements to earn if you're that way inclined, which net you new titles to attach to your player profile.

dress up games

While the fashionista gameplay is obviously the main appeal in New Style Boutique 3, there are also a simple but charming stories that develop through your interactions with customers. From a clumsy aspiring idol to a rocker who wants to open her own nightclub, from flighty heiress to the eccentric "Style Stalker" who keeps issuing you fashion challenges, each customer had their own unique personality and story to tell. Even the city itself has its own character, growing from a fairly sleepy place to a bustling fashion mecca over the course of the game. There's nothing too deep or thought-provoking here, but the interactions are funny and charming, injecting a sense of humanity and context into the game.

Styling Star also makes marks the return of menswear, after it was reduced to a sort of bonus feature in New Style Boutique 2. This time, a men's clothing boutique opens in the course of the game (albeit a bit later on), using the same game systems as the main womenswear boutique—customers come in with requests and finite budgets, you need to help them out, and so on. Though the clothing options aren't as extensive as those for women, menswear comes with its own unique style challenges and quirks, and it's nice to see this incorporated more into the game proper. After all, fashion is for everyone.

It'd be easy to write off New Style Boutique 3: Styling Star if you're not interested in fashion or fashion games, but I'd recommend at least trying out the demo. If even someone as void of style as me found it as enjoyable as I did, you might just find your perfect fit.



- Matt C.
Contributor
Find me on Twitter: @MC_Odd
Review: New Style Boutique 3: Styling Star (Nintendo 3DS)
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