Makes a possibly droll premise incredibly entertaining; requires actual memorization/skill as game goes on
Beauty contests are a little too easy
So Style Savvy: Trendsetters is definitely not a game that Hardcore Gamers™ generally touch, much less play. After all, not only is it a game about selling and buying clothes, it’s also a game featuring makeup application, hair styling, and beauty pageants in highfalutin’ fashion. (Pun intended.) Countless fashion-related shovelware developed for Wii and DS, meanwhile, doesn’t quite help the impression Style Savvy: Trendsetters may make. And yet outside of Natsume with its Harvest Moon series, no game developer has recreated possibly dull real-world tropes quite so passionately or as vividly as syn Sophia, Inc. has with Style Savvy: Trendsetters. Viva la revolución: it’s time to give fashion games a makeover.
You start the game by walking into the local fashion boutique, and talking to the manager there, who promptly offers you a job based on your– you guessed it– style savvy. Dumping a bunch of clothes on you, the manager then proceeds to give you the reins to the entire operation, letting you talk to customers and pick out clothes for them. Customers will accept or reject your suggestions based on their personal preference; at the beginning of the game, customers will tell you straight out what kind of clothes they’d like, but later on you’ll have to figure it out by what they’re wearing.
Customers will let you know what they want. You should give it to ’em.
Of course, just as in real life, it’s a little hard to shop for people when you barely even know them. Thankfully, Style Savvy: Trendsetters solves this by dividing clothes into stylistic categories called Tastes. Tastes include basics such as “simple,” “girly,” “feminine,” or “bold,” though there’s also some more esoteric categories, such as “gothic,” “princess,” or “boho-chic.” It’s your job to select clothes from these Tastes that suit your customers, while fitting said clothes to their budgets– and the season. Suffice to say that if you recommend a tank top to a customer in winter, she’ll be less than satisfied.
As you make people happy, you fill up the moon. (Bear with me.) When the full moon finally shines upon your tiny store, you can unlock new clothes to sell and even new places in town to go. As you fulfill customers’ style dreams more and more often, the town around your fashion boutique grows bigger and bigger, with hair stylists, makeup artists and photographers moving in to take advantage of your artsy haven’s clientele. A furniture store even appears, so that you can give both your tiny apartment and your fashion boutique makeovers too. It’s really quite fulfilling to see your town boom as a result of your own actions, and every day becomes a fresh opportunity to customize your own character’s look.
This is probably a healthier way of going through retail therapy.
(By the way, you play as a woman, selling clothes to mostly women but, rarely, also men. While this isn’t particularly relevant, if you’re a man, it may be jarring to see other people call your svelte fashionista “Chuck” or “Bill.” Better to just give your character a girl name, as she deserves.)
Of course, since selling clothes is 75% of the game, it’s a pleasure to see syn Sophia giving such great presentation to the procedure. Interactions with people are handled in first-person and with text, giving the game a Japanese visual novel sort of feel, and the writing keeps things feeling new, with references to pop culture just a button press away. Meanwhile, little bits of plot are fed piecemeal along the way, involving the everyday drama of your fellow manager leaving the store to become a superstar fashion stylist, totally making you jealous and convincing you to go on a quest to become a Pokémon master fashion stylist, too. (No, really.) It’s this kind of real-life-as-fantasy gaming that drives Style Savvy: Trendsetters players to sell clothes like maniacs, having fun all the way.
Contests are a fine way of showing off your style skill– without budget restrictions.
Yet nothing in this game is particularly forced. You don’t have to sell clothes like a maniac– you can just enter countless beauty pageants, which involve styling a model to a theme. (Essentially, styling without a budget.) You’d probably want to sell clothes like a maniac anyhow, just because it’s easier to earn a full moon that way, but you can also gain moonlight by talking to people downtown or at the café, or just by wearing new clothes every day. Style Savvy: Trendsetters encourages players to go at their own pace, which is nice in an era of games that Make You Do Stuff (hello, every other game ever). For a game about the frou-frou world of fashion, Style Savvy: Trendsetters is pretty down-to-earth.
There’s also an online component of Style Savvy: Trendsetters, though it’s pretty barebones. You can open an online store, comprising of three mannequins and three outfits that you make yourself, and other players can go online and buy those outfits, making you money. You can also buy other players’ outfits, too, which will unlock those clothes in your own closet, though not your own store. Meanwhile, there’s also the potential for downloadable outfits distributed by Nintendo and syn Sophia, though as of writing there haven’t been any. They’re nice features, certainly– but the online gameplay is not why you’d want to play Style Savvy: Trendsetters.
As a fashion game, Style Savvy: Trendsetters succeeds on almost every level. Buying clothes, selling them, and then creating borderline insane outfits for your customers and supermodels never seems to get old. (Namely because it’s great fun to see how stupid of an outfit you can get away with making, and then seeing people wear that outfit around town.) Meanwhile, beauty contests and simple outdoor visual novel-like interactions offer a nice change of pace, while keeping things as entertaining as ever. The best part of the game? I finally know how to put together a nice outfit. For women, that is. I still have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to men.