Okay fashionistas, start your engine because Nintendo have just released New Style Boutique 3. Get ready to jump back into the world of fashion, run your store, please your clients. Create edgy new looks and be a boutique success. The series is known by many names, Japan as Style Savvy, Korea as Girls Style: Fashion Leader Declaration! In the west it’s known as New Style Boutique.
The latest, New Style Boutique 3 pulls an east west Final Fantasy in that technically it is the fourth entry to the series because one didn’t make it here. So for the uninitiated, New Style Boutique is a fashion store management simulator. The central aspect of the game is running your shop, meeting your customers, identifying what kind of person they are and providing clothes to match.
So the story goes, your character is off to stay with their uncle who runs a fashion boutique. He bails overseas essentially the day you arrive and you get to take over the store. You get to hire an assistant and get on with business. Then you name your character, do some basic customisation (I will cover this later) and name your store. I named my character Ayumi, my store “Princess” and got to work in my quest to make my shop the fashion capital of Japan.
From a story aspect the game is very basic. You meet different characters as they come into your store, they tell you what kind of look they are after and you make a recommendation. They can be added to your phone as contacts and you can send basic messages like ‘visit the store’. The core story is about three girls that want to become pop idols and you assist them via your sense of fashion and providing the look they need to reach stardom. From a length perspective, it’s a long game. But remember that the core here is fashion store simulator.
So, as far as store management goes, what’s the deal? Well I can honestly say no fibre in my being has ever wanted to run a clothes store in real life. I like art but have never had even the slightest motivation to design clothes much less tell people what they should wear, even less so to try and identify a personality and match a look. Which is superficial and subjective in and of itself, because ultimately you will choose to dress your customers in what you think looks good.
But on the flip side, I quite enjoyed running my store and I was surprised how much I got into it. I decided I wanted certain clientele and stocked certain clothes to match. When customers visit, you get to choose whether to fulfill their needs, ask them to wait and restock or say sorry no. Its interesting the when the idea of ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have what you are looking for’ seems like a good idea. But ultimately, I preferred to give them the option of something I thought looked good on them.
The selection of (fictional) brands is extensive, you unlock more as you go based on the success of your store. All of the brands have literally hundreds of items to choose from to stock your store. Especially when Princess started to take off, I found myself browsing my favourite brands and choosing the items that I liked the most. I was watching my stock levels, had a sense of which brands were selling and bought stock to match.
This aspect of the game is quite fun and exciting. Without the stress of a business owner having to make rent, pay staff and watch margins, I was able to focus on spending my money on stocking my store with fresh wares. From a customisation perspective you can tailor your store, choose your layout, your colours, the shelves and what is on them. You can customise your apartment how you like in the same fashion. I grew quite attached to my store and my clients as a result, most of the aspects of the game you can make your own. Except for your character, that is.
I do register the fact this is a 3DS game and despite the fact that graphics and handheld technology has evolved, handheld games have less depth than console games (in general). Still, one of the things that genuinely disappointed me with this game is the customisation of your own character. You can choose their name, skin colour, hair colour, their makeup and clothes. But you can’t choose their gender, nor can you alter their body type.
In fact, there are nothing but slim model-like females and boy band looking males in the game. Hence, your clothes only come in one size (size 8 I assume) and to be honest, if any client that did not fit that model visited your store you would have to send them away. This game is obviously directed to appeal to young girls, but the reality is that not everyone is skinny for one thing and in fact there might be boys that want to play the game as well. In that sense it reinforces gender stereotyping and in fact superficiality in general to the extent that I am almost tempted to say is unacceptable.
The Bottom Line
Overall I genuinely enjoyed this game as far as I enjoyed matching clothes and making the clients happy. There are loads of options as far as stock goes, lots of people to meet and you get to make your store into your own. But I do think the lack of gender choice and limited customisation of your own character are a major downside. Despite the fact I grew to love my store Princess, ultimately I couldn’t connect with my character. And I’m not sure you would either.