Style Boutique is good wholesome fun from our friends at the Big N
- Deep management experience, plenty of customisation options
- The ‘young teen girl’ vibe will unfortunately turn people away
Style Boutique is a genuine surprise. It's the kind of game that pretty much anyone can enjoy, if they give it half a chance. It's deep, challenging and addictive – and, much like the Marios and Pokemons of the world, its appeal is broader than its surface aesthetics.
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
We’ll get something straight out of the way: Style Boutique has not been designed for gore fiends. If you can’t play a game that doesn’t involve bonus points for decapitation, you’re probably not even reading this review in the first place.
That said, there’s a surprisingly mature game beneath the girly presentation — enough so that Style Boutique will appeal to more people than it would initially seem.
Yes, it is all about fashion and clothes, and yes, it’s just women's fashion. However Boutique is closer to the many hotel/toy shop/theme park/zoo management games than The Babysitter Club.
As a boutique owner, you are responsible for buying products from wholesalers and selling them on to the customer. However, as we soon discovered at GamePro, the shoppers in the Style Boutique universe are utterly clueless. Simply on-selling clothing isn’t enough; you’ll also need to suggest what would suit each customer, based on their personal tastes and budget. Suggest the wrong thing, and they’ll walk out.
It’s not easy. Making sure you’re stocking enough to suit each customer’s wishes, suggesting the right fashion for them, and closing the sale is a fascinating process that will test your own tastes and smarts. You’ll even need to account for the season — good luck suggesting hot pants in the middle of winter!
Marketing the boutique is important too: you can also compete in catwalk contests (with each win generating extra publicity for the store), distribute virtual leaflets, and dress mannequins to attract customers. You can even hop online and set up a shop for others around the world to visit.
As a Nintendo property, Style Boutique features impressive production values. Although the game is cute overall, characters are modelled well, and the 10,000-odd pieces of clothing cover a wide range of popular fashion styles.
Admittedly, the story is weak, and dialogue is uncomfortably teen-girl at time (unless you’re a teenage girl), but frankly, anyone who was able to handle Pokemon’s cute trip will be fine here.
Although it’s obvious that 99 per cent of the people who buy this game will be teen girls or younger, it’s actually a damned good sim game. There’s a fair amount of challenge to it (especially if your idea of fashion is whatever is lying on the bedroom floor), and the realistic business process involved with sourcing and stocking a living retail shop is definitely addictive.
As much as I feel the need to go and play GTA to reassert my masculinity, I can’t help but admit I was drawn into this game — it’s deep, challenging, and yes, it’s full of sass.
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