New Style Boutique
FASHION. That one word is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many. Whether it’s because you are deeply concerned with your physical appearance or because you hate the idea of you or your friends and family having to surrender money and effort into keeping up with ‘trends’, fashion has wormed its way into our culture and our mindsets. Nintendo knows this and, in their effort to make games more accessible to a wider audience, released Style Boutique in 2009 to tap into the interest. As the story goes with most first-party Nintendo games, it was a hit and now a sequel, aptly titled New Style Boutique, graces the shelves and the 3DS’s library. As one can probably guess, New Style Boutique doesn’t do much to mix up the game’s focus on making pretty outfits and giving people makeovers, preferring instead to emphasise the fun of being a stylist. All in all, it works in its favour, making New Style Boutique a solid, entertaining title that anyone can pick up and have a good time with.
Your role in New Style Boutique is that of a girl (sadly, you can’t play as a guy) who inherits a boutique and proceeds to act as a salesperson/stylist to anyone who dares to venture into your lair. There is little story to speak of in the game, with the game focusing more on your day-to-day routine, consisting of making sure you have enough stock, fraternising with customers and of course, styling, styling and more styling. Apparently all the customers who walk into your store are indecisive and need your help to find what they’re after, but can either be very specific or very vague about it. Considering there are over 12,000 items of clothing and accessories, you can hardly blame them. Worth noting as well is the major addition of… men. Who would have thought men want to be fashionable too? Now you can style the various lads who pop into your boutique, although the range of fashion is much smaller though somehow, it is easier to make them look like prats.
Just like in real life, the fashion available in New Style Boutique can be categorised into certain styles such as Feminine, Chic, Girly, Preppy and Glam, to name a few. Having trouble telling the difference between the styles based on name alone? You’re not alone and it’s a problem that continues to raises its head throughout the course of the game. For example, customers will occasionally ask if you can make them an outfit to suit them, in which case you’ll need to weigh up and figure out what style they like. However, some ‘Glam’ clothes can look ‘Bold’, while some ‘Feminine’ clothes can look ‘Girly’. New Style Boutique does have a couple of features to help you with this: firstly, a built-in fashion dictionary to guide you on the specifics of each style, such as the typical characteristics and which brand specialises in them. Secondly, there is a search function which can segment your current stock in all sorts of helpful ways, such as by style, colour and type of clothing. Even then, it still feels like a bit of a cheap cop-out.
Despite this, there is no real difficulty curve. Instead of upping the ante by introducing more challenging aspects to the game, such as print and colour coordination, New Style Boutique sees you simply cobbling whole outfits together. It doesn’t matter if the colours clash horribly, as long as it matches the style, budget and items of clothing requested by the customer. The lack of difficulty really shines through when you try your hand in competitions. There are four levels of competitions and even at the top of the ladder it seems ridiculously easy to win, as long as you stick to the theme – you can count on at least one of your rivals screwing up badly. Winning competitions has its perks, such as rare items for your wardrobe, your face in the digital fashion magazine Nuances and an influx of customers to your store. All this, but no real sense of achievement.
The only tricky aspect of the game that you really need to look out for is managing your budget and even then, it’s not as complex as you probably expect it to be. Apparently in the world of New Style Boutique, shop assistants don’t need to be paid and you don’t need to pay rent or taxes. Instead, it boils down to having a reasonable amount of foresight to have the right items in stock, which is quite simple – the way you dress your character has a bearing on what kind of clothes customers will ask for when they visit your store. Take it all into account and it can be a very expensive exercise, especially once the game introduces the high-end brands. It’s a shame the economics in New Style Boutique isn’t a little more complex, such as being able to control the mark up of your items, although you can put items on sale. It’s probably for the best though, given the casual nature of the game – One neat thing about the money system is the fact that the game allows you to do a little shopping of your own, with access to your own funds, which allows you to buy frivolities such as make-up, clothes, hairdressing appointments and furniture.
As a game that promises fabulous fashion fun however, you can’t really go wrong with New Style Boutique. The simplicity of the game means there’s lots of room to be creative and may even help you discover some styles of clothes you might like to wear. Given the casual nature of the game, its shallowness works well, making it a great game for your little sister, girlfriend, mum or even yourself, if you’re into fashion.