Style Savvy isn’t Mario or even Pikmin, but Nintendo’s fashion series has been a low-key success for the Japanese company. Playing dress-up is undeniably fun, so it’s only natural that the game would have a widespread appeal on 3DS and DS. Now on its third iteration, Style Savvy: Fashion Forward is the most robust entry in the series yet, allowing players to go into several different professions.
Much like its predecessors, I quickly found myself running a fashion boutique within minutes of starting the game. Unlike previous games, though, Fashion Forward has a completely ridiculous premise to get you from a regular person to store manager. The character you create (which has to be female for whatever reason) has instructions to use a key on their childhood dollhouse. After doing so, a small five inch tall girl walks out of the dollhouse as if this was The Borrowers. While my initial thought was, “Oh, I’m going to design clothes for little tiny people. Neat!” The actual truth is even crazier, as the girl is actually from another dimension and the dollhouse is essentially the gate to it.
One thing leads to another, and once you travel to the other dimension (and presumably become much shorter) you start working at the fashion store with your friend. The game then brushes aside the fact that you’re in another dimension, but the opening was so out there and baffling that I really don’t know how to feel about it. On one hand, I’m so glad that they came up with such a wild reason to get the player setup as a store owner, but I’m also disappointed that more wasn’t done with the idea. Nintendo teases something incredible, but that’s all it is — a tease.
Most of the customers at the fashion shop will come in wanting something specific. They want black shoes, a white inner shirt or a girly dress. These requests are very easy to fulfill since you can simply sort your inventory to only display objects of a certain brand, color or style. Other times customers will want a complete outfit, and this is more fun than the other requests that feel like simple busywork. There’s often a budget to work with (although they’ll often still purchase something if it’s only a few dollars over), and I had a lot of fun putting together different looks.
What I really enjoyed was that sometimes customers would come in with a specific story, and tell me why they needed a new outfit. A lot of these were dumb, but still really charming. Having to pick out red pants for someone because they spilled spaghetti on their blue jeans is a lot more fun than just filling a request for red pants. A little context goes a long way, and these moments stood out from the otherwise monotonous work.
When I wasn’t working in the shop, I was exploring the streets of Beaumonde City. There are well over a hundred citizens in Beaumonde, each with their own personality traits, and talking with them will often unlock either new items to use or teach the player about the locations in the town. There’s a lot of small distractions, but my favorite was a nightclub that I ended up visiting frequently. Just like any good club, it featured live entertainment, but amazingly, its band didn’t have any actual instruments — it was an “air band.” I must’ve watched the cutscene of this three piece rocking out as if they were on Scrubs about 20 times. It’s hilarious, and so dumb.
Eventually all of this wandering around led to me finding additional jobs, working as a hairdresser and make-up artist. Cutting hair quickly became my favorite part of the game, as it’s designed as a puzzle. I had to ask each customer multiple questions before I cut their hair, and depending on what I asked I had different clues as to what type of haircut they want. Initially, I really felt the pressure of haircutting since if I messed up, it was permanent. I totally forgot that I was in a magical world where someone could enter with a bob cut and I could make them leave with long hair. After that realization, I wasn’t afraid to mess up, and just enjoyed helping Beaumonde’s citizens treat themselves.
After a couple of hours of doing these various odd jobs, more in-depth vocations appear. This includes being able to run fashion shows and create your own clothes. The latter job is much more interesting, as the fashion show really just has the player putting together a few outfits and then watching a cutscene play out. Once you create your own clothes you can then sell them in your shop. While aspiring designers will find this more rewarding than I did, I found it a lot easier and less time consuming to just continue to buy pre-made clothes.
The main issue is that while I enjoyed all of the jobs, I didn’t have so much of a blast that I wanted to do them over and over for hours. Style Savvy: Fashion Forward relies on one particular gameplay loop, and it gets extremely repetitive. Despite being able to jump around jobs, doing these short minute-long tasks just got old. This mostly means that Style Savvy should be enjoyed like Animal Crossing — in short 20-30 minute chunks — as anything else is testing your patience.
Style Savvy: Fashion Forward is a weird video game. From alternate dimensions to nightclubs that have air bands playing, there’s a lot of charm to be found in Beaumonde City. I just wish that the game played into this weirdness a bit more, since the core tasks get very repetitive. Still, it offers up a lot of modes and content, so those who enjoyed previous entries will also find a lot to like here.
This review is based on the 3DS exclusive, which we were provided with.
Style Savvy: Fashion Forward is a charming but repetitive experience that's best enjoyed in short bursts.