There’s a new girl in town and she’s kicking up a real fashion storm in New Style Boutique 3. With 20,000 items to get your manicured mitts on and some delightful pop tunes in the background, it’s sure to be a hit with budding queens of fashion. But as trends come and go, the game’s choices also wear thin with repetitive goals, time-wasting features and unnecessary storyline fillers.
As the fourth instalment in the Style Savvy series and developed by syn Sophia, New Style Boutique 3: Styling Star does exactly what it sets out to do. While I’m not well versed in fashion simulation games nowadays, I’ve certainly scoured the internet in search of fashion games in the past. Back in the days of MSN, Furbies, Saved by the Bell and Miniclip, fashion games were very few and far between. Chances are if I’d been handed New Style Boutique 3 when I was 12 or younger, there would be a very lively, doe-eyed young girl playing on her 3DS.
Make no mistake, New Style Boutique 3 is a fashion lovers’ dream. In the 20+ hour storyline, fans of the fashion sim genre will set up and manage their own boutique, become the personal stylist of budding pop stars such as Rosie, Alina and Yolanda, and design their own threads to display in the Design Centre for other players to purchase and use. With up to 20,000 items available within 13 different fashion trends and 18 brand stores to purchase from, there’s so much choice on offer that you’ll be constantly restocking from the Exhibition Hall on every in-game day.
Unfortunately, that’s where the game falls flat; worse than J-Law at the Oscars or Gemma Collins’s recent embarrassment at Radio 1’s Teen Awards. The Exhibition Hall is the only place to purchase new threads for your boutique and coincidentally you’ll need to visit it every day if you want to keep your customers happy. That means investing more time into buying new items than serving your customers. For example, your customer wants a red skirt and your boutique isn’t holding any. Choose the option to let your customer wait while you stock up at the Exhibition Hall and track down every red skirt the place holds. Of course, you’ll have to visit each individual store which holds rock, gothic, basic and lively styles depending on which would suit your customer’s style the best. It’s a huge time-waster when you’ve got to do the same trek up to several times inside half an hour.
It’s not just time you waste either, but money earned. At first you’ll be serving a paltry three customers per day. But by the time you unlock all 18 brand stores, you’ll be serving many more. In the early stages of the game, your clothing choices matter as you’ll have less money to spend on new items. You have to think in fashion-forward, business-like terms. Strangely, it’s an incredibly adult concept for a game with such a young target audience. Thankfully, there’s a solution to this fashion crisis. The restock market unlocks around 10 hours into the game, where you can buy previously purchased items from an in-game phone app, making your hunt for old threads that much easier.
Sadly, the Exhibition Hall remains the only place you can buy new stock and, as the clothes on offer change every day, you’ll get very little use from the restock market. In fact, when your flush with cash, it’s much quicker to flick through every item page, select the brand rep’s choice and add everything to your cart, rather than aching over every penny. Frankly, it’s game design that’s gone askew.
Aside from earning money to purchase new items, New Style Boutique 3 also gives players the chance to level up their Stylist Rank. Each time you successfully serve a customer, whether that’s through your boutique, the hair salon or the beautician, you’ll earn stylist points. Increasing your Stylist Rank is the quickest way to unlock new brand stores or new phone apps and to progress the game’s storyline. While there’s more than 30 levels to climb, you’ll unlock most of the game’s features inside the first 30 Stylist Ranks, including the Design Centre and Shopdo which serve as the title’s online modes.
New Style Boutique 3 takes the catwalk by storm in one area; item menu selection. It’s quite possibly the least glamorous feature, but it’s designed to save you bags of time. When selecting outfits for customers or trying to find that elusive red skirt in amongst 1,000 items in stock, the menu selection is the equivalent of eating your weight in chocolate while not physically gaining any. Players can refine their stock by type, brand, image, colour, pattern and price. So if your customer is looking for a red dotty lively mini-skirt under £20, you can bet your bottom dollar you’ll find it if it’s in stock. It’s pure magic. And if you’re running low on cash? Dress your shop window mannequin in one trend and score big bucks from passersby. Some might say it’s easy on the eyes.
Of course, it’s not just the hard-earned cash that keeps fashion lovers swooning over New Style Boutique 3, but the storyline too. While it’s a bit twee for adults, youngsters will revel in the drama that mirrors the animations of Ace Attorney games. Between the crazy arm movements and character oddities, there’s three main characters that take centre stage. Take in the personal stories of Rosie, Yolana and Alina and help them on their way to superstardom at the local talent agency NIN10 Pro. At the very least, the upbeat poppy music and the pun-worthy script keeps it light-hearted and entertaining.
Despite all the good intentions, New Style Boutique 3 has its grievances. Watch out for repetitive customers coming in with the same wants and needs, unnecessary storyline fillers that force you to make a detour to the hair salon or beautician without paying you any freelance fees, lengthy loading screens that fetch customers in before your assistant, and a paltry choose-your-own-design feature that’s fit for the bin. And let’s not forget the bigger issue at play here with the Exhibition Hall. New Style Boutique 3 has redeeming features to easily cover up the heavily repetitive and monotonous sideshow, but it’s not nearly enough.
There’s still a glimmer of hope around though. New Style Boutique 3 has good pacing to keep any fashion queen – of any sex – playing for hours. With its upbeat and peppy music, easy-to-read storyline and great search and find mechanic for any outfit, it’s fun for a time. Budding fashion stars can also download the game’s demo via the Nintendo eShop by scanning the QR code below with the 3DS camera. In reality though, it’s a shame the game doesn’t live up to its glamorous expectations. It’s no fashion faux pas, but it’s not ready for the Big Four either.
Scan the QR code below with your Nintendo 3DS camera to unlock a neat demo of the game.