You might have noticed that this review looks slightly different to other reviews on VideoGamer.com. That's because we look at games clearly designed for younger gamers in a slightly different way to other games. We'll endeavour to tell you just what you need to know in a clear and concise way so you'll be confident it's the right purchase for whatever your situation.
What is it?
As the name suggests this DS exclusive, aimed at pre-teen girls, sees you working in a style boutique. Initially you work for someone else, but before too long you're running your own store. Customers come in to the store seeking certain fashion items, be it a shirt, pair of trousers, skirt, dress, scarf, pair of gloves or shoes. You then need to look through your stock to see if you have something that meets their requirements.
An initial tutorial period tells you all you need to know and walks you through the various aspects of the game. There's quite a bit of text to read and players will need to understand the concept of money and the cost of items. All new terms are explained, so as long as the player has reasonable reading skills there's nothing here that's overly complicated for over 7s. Although you'll spend a lot of time selling items to customers, there are plenty of other parts to the game. Money made in your store can be used to buy items for the new fashion season or to replenish stock, you can visit a beautician and hair salon to customise your own character's appearance, and there are fashion contests to take part in.
Any young gamers who like going shopping for clothes in real life will enjoy what Style Boutique offers. There's no real customisation in terms of hand-drawn designs, which will be disappointing for some, but does mean that no artistic skills are required. The game is all about picking items that go well together and making sure you have a well-stocked store.
Style Boutique is a simple game, but characters are nicely modelled and the all important clothing is well designed. There's a limited selection of music to begin with, but more is unlocked as you play. For young gamers who want to play with friends, the game includes an open store mode that allows local players or those playing over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection the chance to buy items from other people's stores. You can download new items online, too, and challenge local friends to fashion contests.
Anything for adults?
While a few fashion-obsessed adults might get some enjoyment from putting together outfits, most will find the simple gameplay and cute visuals a big turn-off. This is a game made for a very specific group of young gamers and adults are advised to stay well clear.
Having given Style Boutique to my nine-year-old sister to play for a week in order to get some idea of how it appeals to that audience, it's clear that it does the job very well indeed. The mix of fashion and business ownership struck a chord that meant the game didn't once leave her DS. For kids into fashion this would make an ideal gift.