Longtime readers of this site might recall my loving review of Style Savvy for the Nintendo DS. So you can well imagine my excitement when they announced a sequel to the fabulous fashion styling game for the 3DS. And I'm happy to say that not only did they not fix what wasn't broken, but they made Style Savvy: Trendsetters exactly what a sequel should be. Bigger, better, and well... more fabulous than the original!
The basic scenario of Style Savvy: Trendsetters is pretty much exactly the same as the original. You play a young woman who is recruited to manage a stylish boutique and tasked with stocking the shelves and selling that merchandise to a very demanding clientele while entering fashion contests and making a name for yourself in the biz. Unfortunately, while the sequel does add mensware and cute boys to style, you can't actually play as a male character. I'd like to assume this is because of the fact that you wouldn't be able to take advantage of the hair salon and makeup store to their full potential, as well as the fact that the smaller amount of menswear offers less dress-up fun, instead of some kind of reverse sexism that believes guys can't manage a fashionable boutique.
As in the first game, it holds your hand in the beginning and eases you into the gameplay. Your daily routine will pretty much consist of putting on a fabulous outfit of your choosing, adjusting hair and makeup accordingly, then swinging by the buyers center to pick out new stock for your shop, then going to the store to sell as much as possible before evening comes and you participate in one of the daily fashion contests. Yes, this town is obsessed with fashion. Some of the dialogue is actually kind of hilarious because nobody can seem to talk about anything other than hair, makeup, clothes, and parties. It's a weird town.
The graphics are lovely. The characters still have an anime look to them, but they're much smoother than before, and obviously the clothes are fantastically detailed this time around. The 3D is used to great effect when you get someone to try on an outfit that they truly adore. Instead of a little shower of pixelated hearts, you'll see one of a handful of animations featuring swirling piano keys, a fashion runway or an explosion of animals, among other things, all in eye-popping 3D! You can also take 3D photos with the R trigger at various times during gameplay and store them on your SD card to share with friends (mine are illustrating this review). You can not only dress up your character, but also the shop, and her apartment. It's oddly more fun than it sounds. Oh, and the music is fine. It's nothing spectacular, but it gets the job done, and there's enough variety that it doesn't get too obnoxious. There's still no voicework, but that's okay. It would probably get annoying, because there's a lot of repetition in some of the dialogue.
The basic gameplay remains the same. You have store funds that you use to purchase stock for your store from a variety of different labels, and then you sell it to customers who request specific styles and items. Occasionally, telling someone to try on a single item will inspire them to ask for an entire outfit, but just make sure that you stay within their budget when assembling the ensemble. There is a search function that you can use to make things easier. It's a bit of a cheat when someone comes in asking for a pop jacket, and you can just filter out everything else, but when you've got a huge stock of items, it does keep you from scrolling through everything. I will admit, though, it's less of a challenge than in the original where you had to remember which label was which style. Although there are people who later on simply ask for an item in their style, and you have to recognize what label they're wearing, so it's not a complete cakewalk.
Fashion shows remain the same as well, where you create an outfit to match the chosen theme (preppy, pop, girly, etc.) and send it down the runway. You do get to pick a model, but then you're also allowed to change her hair color/style and makeup, so the actual model doesn't really matter that much, really. And like in the first game, they're not easy to lose. The other designers are just so off the mark that you're pretty much guaranteed a win.
Between stocking the store, selling merchandise and showing off your fabulous self around town at various locations like the park, the café and downtown, there's a lot to do. And not only does Style Savvy: Trendsetters add more to do, they've also stretched out the gameplay more than in the original. Before, you could breeze your way to the top of the fashion elite relatively quickly. But this time around, it takes longer to unlock things. (Which you do by making people happy and collecting their happiness in a jar to make the moon full. No, seriously.) While this may sound like artificially extending the life of the game, it's not, really. The basic gameplay of dressing up yourself and everyone else in town is so much fun, I kept playing the original long after there was nothing really that new to do. So now I appreciate that you still get new activities scattered here and there over a longer play period. But I'll still probably keep playing after I've unlocked everything anyway!
There's also an online component, with the virtual Fashion Plaza. You create a virtual store that other people can shop in. You create three mannequins with outfits that people can purchase. You can browse, or search for a specific shop. You can even trade shop codes with friends so you can visit their boutique. You can also StreetPass, and the other manager will actually visit your shop, but the game is still too new so I haven't been able to see this in action because I haven't StreetPassed anyone who is also playing it. Although I have sold stuff out of my online storefront!
I like the ability to take 3D photos at various times during the game, and especially the photo studio that you unlock after a while. But there's an AR photo shoot you can do with an AR card that was sadly disappointing. Unless you've got one of those giant cards, your character is going to be really tiny, and oddly, the photo isn't in 3D.
Style Savvy: Trendsetters is obviously not going to be a game for everyone. It's a very specific genre. But if you think that any of this sounds even remotely fun, you should definitely check it out. Buying and selling clothes sounds repetitive, but the wide variety of styles, labels and pieces keeps things interesting. (Even when you put things together that clearly don't match and the customer still reacts as though it was the greatest thing since sliced bread!) Everything that was great about the original Style Savvy was retained and improved upon as a good sequel should. Give it a try you might love it as much as I do!
A download code for Style Savvy: Trendsetters was provided by Nintendo for the purpose of this review. Over 12 hours of gameplay were completed, during which quite a lot was unlocked, but definitely not everything yet!