Hello 2013! My first proper blog post for the year (my playage report doesn’t really count, now does it!)
Prior to Christmas I bought myself a copy of New Style Boutique for the 3DS because a) it was a great price and b) I absolutely loved the original Style Boutique for DS. I got so much value out of the previous game (played it solidly every day for about 4 months), I knew I’d do the same with the new one (especially after checking out a couple of gameplay demos!) and that I would love this as much if not more. I was not disappointed.
New Style Boutique is a clothing shop management sim game. The underlying “story” is that you are a retail assistant who takes over the management of a store, and then later becomes a master stylist, participating in local, national and finally international fashion contests, winning cool clothing prizes and fashion fame.
At the start of the game, you are limited to what you can do as you don’t make much money (being pretty much a nobody), but as you participate in contests and work in your shop regularly, you build up a good clientele, and word of mouth brings in new traffic. Another good way to get your boutique noticed, is to wander downtown in a fancy outfit and get spotted, preferably by the photographer for Nuances, the local fashion e-zine. A cool thing about this e-zine is that you can directly buy clothing items for your own personal closet, rather than having to wait until you buy them for your store (as an aside, any time you buy something for your store, or win a contest prize, you get two of the item – one for your store, and one for you).
After a short time playing, new brands are made available to you, so you can specialise in certain images or styles for your boutique and its customers (such as “chic”, “sporty”, “girly” etc). A major change between this game and the previous one is the addition of male clothing lines (a great addition which gives you more scope for making big sales!) Another exciting feature addition is the ability to customise hair and makeup in a much more flexible way (more choices!) and you also have an apartment you can furnish, which I find heaps of fun!
There are also locations to visit, to meet up with friends and customers, which usually gives you magic dust to fill your daily jar. When full, this jar will spread sparkles over the town and make the moon full, which unlocks new products in the beautician store, or gives you other gifts and benefits. Make it your mission to fill up the jar during every day cycle to maximise your rewards!
It won’t take long before you are swimming in cash, and you receive a small percentage of all sales for your own wallet which you can use to buy clothes from contests or Nuances; makeup and hairstyles; or furniture for your apartment. The only disappointment I have is with the $99,999 shop till limit. I regularly miss out on the money from sales, because I have too much cash. As you have a limit to how many individual items you can have in your shop storeroom (1000 for women’s items, and I think 500 for men’s), at some point you may need to do a stock clearance which essentially sells your items in a sale for the cost you paid at the Exhibition Hall (the place you go to buy new stock).
The Exhibition Hall hosts all the brands available in the game, and Sunday is the best day to shop there – all brands are open to buy from, and later in the game a limited edition item is released at a specific brand stall. Definitely make sure you check out the Exhibition Hall every day because different items are made available on different days. The game is also seasonable with its fashion, so I’m currently buying all the Winter lines, and eagerly anticipating the release of the Spring lines so I have something to spend all my money on!
The Contests component of the game comprises a series of increasingly difficult fashion contests (ostensibly, more on this shortly). You must select a model and then put together an outfit to fit the theme of the contest (in line with the images/styles mentioned earlier). You start with the Beginner contest, and later the Premier, Elite and International contests are unlocked. Each contest has about 10 or 12 stages, one for each image theme. You get a prize for each one, and can re-enter once you’ve completed them all, but instead receive a cash prize.
The reason I say the contests are ostensibly ‘increasingly difficult’ is because I’m not sure you can actually lose one if you follow some one very basic guideline: only use items that have the theme’s image characteristic; and perhaps stick to a colour or pattern. This usually works well for selling to customers too, however there are some added complexities there.
When selling to a customer, most of the time that customer will be pretty clear what they want (“find me a girly casual dress”), and you can easily select an appropriate item. However other times they’ll be quite vague (“show me some shoes that suit my style), and you’ll be required to make a guess. When starting out with the game, expect to make a few mistakes, but as you get familiar with the clothing items, you’ll be able to recognise a brand or image style on sight, and you’ll rarely miss a style. My big tip is that if the customer wants something you don’t have, opt for something in a similar brand or image, and pick a colour they appear to like (you can often tell from their existing clothes, or hair colour/style).
Another fun feature of the game is your ability to have a Streetpass-enabled Stylist card, which you can swap with other players of the game if you pass them by in the street. Once you do this, that player’s in-game character will visit your store with a whopping $10k to spend. Don’t waste this opportunity to make some good cash!
Well, as you can see from my massive post I’m quite enthusiastic about this game, and with good reason. New Style Boutique is a fun, low impact game that brings out the love of management sims in me. It’s a good tie-over while I wait for new Animal Crossing!