Tuesday, May 11, 2010

style savvy: the fashionista's video game of choice

Wanna-be rock stars have Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Sports nuts have Madden. There's even Nintendogs for people who like to care for virtual pets. So it was about time fashionistas got a video game that would be worth their time and money.
Style Savvy was released in November 2009, so I realize I'm a little late to the party, but I couldn't resist sharing my thoughts on this totally addicting game.

The basic premise is that one day you pick up a part time job working for a woman named Grace at a trendy boutique called Strata. The next thing you know, you're out-shining your slacker co-worker Renee and getting rewarded with your very own boutique! Once you get to run your own shop, the game is totally in your hands. You can man the store and help picky customers pick out merchandise, pick up new stock at the buyer's center or spend your hard-earned cash at the hair salon and cosmetic store.
Here's the bad news: if you're a guy with a passion for fashion, you're out of luck. You pick an avatar towards the beginning of the game, and there are no male avatars. There actually aren't any men to be found in the entire game besides the owner of your store, a dashing millionaire named Domenic and his irritating butler, Godfrey. But if you're a female playing the game, you can adjust hair, eye and skin color to make the avatar look a lot like you. Well, you if you subsisted on a diet of carrot sticks and diet coke. All the women in the game are extremely skinny, which didn't really sit right with me. While in the store, you help one customer at a time. A girl usually comes in to tell you a boring, pointless story and then somehow ends the story with an explaination of why she's in your store. You then head to the stockroom, pick something out for the customer, and either ask her to take a look (which you can only do three times) or to try it on. If she tries it on and hates it, she's going to leave. But if you only tell her to take a look and she nixes your choice, you can take another shot. Sometimes it's easy to predict what your customer will like, but when you aren't sure, the "take a look" option is life saver. But I'm not gonna lie: sometimes these women do not make sense. They'll to you come dressed head to toe in red and you give them a red shirt and they're all, "I just don't like the color." It can get pretty frustrating. Other times I give them clothing they'll be sure to hate just to spite them, and they're freaking out with joy over the outfit.
As you sell more and more clothing, your shop rank goes up. Each time you get a star, you can enter a fashion contest in which you dress a model according to the theme of the contest. Your prize is typically some god-awful costume, but the glory of winning is enough of a prize.
You don't actually "beat" the game, but once you earn all five stars, you're eligable to enter the International Contest. If you win that, you are named the best stylist in the world and are given a crown to prove it.
Throughout the game, I kept thinking the creepy store owner, Domenic, was going to ask me out. He would always say awkward things after I won a fashion contest and his butler would frequently complain to me about the fact that his boss was such a loner. I was getting ready to become all outraged if it turned out the objective of the game was to land Domenic and move into his mansion, but he ended up keeping his distance.
What I love about the game is how low-key it is. Although there are goals, there's no pressure or time-crunch to complete them, so if you want, you could spend half your time picking out outfits for yourself or browsing the buyer's center. As a shop owner, you get the added bonus being able to keep each piece of clothing you buy for the store in your own closet. So by the end of the game, you have quite an extensive wardrobe. And the clothes are legitimately cute! I often found myself wishing I actually owned some of the pieces. Other items... not so much.
I'd recommend the game to anyone who likes shopping for clothes-it's suitable for all ages. It would be interesting to give the game to a player who just learned to read, because I think the challenge of listening to your customers could help develop reading comprehension skills.
It's not the perfect game, but it's a fun, eye-pleasing diversion during a long car ride or rainy afternoon. Just don't be surprised if it leaves you with an insatiable urge to go shopping.