This won’t really be like my normal reviews as this mainly will be talking about my final thoughts, but this will also compare it to the other games in the series and most importantly, address a question I’ve seen come up a lot–is this game better than Fashion Forward. And very simply, that answer can actually be boiled down to why you play the series.
I’m personally not a huge fashion person. I have a style I really like and dream of always dressing like a Princess, but I very much wear what I’m comfortable with and don’t care if something maybe doesn’t match or isn’t popular. Because of that, the main fun for me with the game is dressing up my character, shop, and room. Interior decorating and customization are my main focus and so for me, this game mostly exceeded in what I enjoyed.
I actually found the fashion shows of Fashion Forward to be tiring and too repetitive and I hated that you had the forced little notification about them every single time you sold enough tickets so I greatly preferred the concerts and their catchy songs. That said, if you enjoy more helping the town become fashionable and dressing up everyone nicely and not just trying to make as much money as you can to buy more clothes to dress-up in, the game takes out a lot of what made Fashion Forward really good for this type of game due to how much space the concerts take up.
While hair and Make-up does make a return, there’s not only less hairstyles (My lovely curly ponytail is gone… And there is no better high ponytail besides the normal one this game…), but a handful only unlock once you’ve finished the story. The bangs can still be mixed and matched though. Make-up, I genuinely swear there’s less shades (or at least different ones) for certain colors. There’s also not really make-up sets you can make yourself (or items you can find to make). It’s all pre-set ones that are sold.
You do not get any pay for helping out at the hair or make-up places. You just get Style Points for ranking up. You do, however, get pay for helping out at the Menswear Shop.
Some places take quite a while to unlock which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can make the game feel a bit grindy. I personally beat the game around Rank 60, but I probably could’ve done it a bit sooner if I didn’t mess up so often. I feel it’s important to point out though, you will not always unlock things in the same order as someone else. Some things require a certain amount of days to pass since the last, others require a rank up, I’ve had some “side quests” pop up much sooner than others while also taking longer to get certain other quests. While there is a set number of events that will happen and you will need certain things done before the final story stuff, there isn’t really a guide to follow here.
Going back to Fashion Forward for the moment:
-The Chalet doesn’t return. The only room you even customize sort of like that is your shop. And while it’s fun to customize your shop, the item limit is quite small. There’s a lot I feel I could’ve done, especially with wall and shelf space, that I couldn’t do due to hitting the item limit very quickly.
—-Similarly, room customization is kind of awful. It’s a bit similar to Trendsetters where you can switch stuff out, but I swear that there’s genuinely less options in general and I don’t know why you can only place items on your vanity and dresser/shelf and that’s it :/ Why can’t I place something on my table? Like seriously. And just, after Fashion Forward’s rooms and the way the shop works, I find it kind of bizarre that your own apartment feels so… lazy in a way. I get that with the animations, that’s probably why they can’t let you place things all over the floor, but even wall items or being able to place things on your table or just genuinely more options to switch through for what you could change would be great.
—-Not to mention changes to items… None of the animal items are animated. They’re plushies. And honestly, they look kind of… odd.
It makes me sad as I really adored them in Fashion Forward.
—-Your shop’s exterior customization is better than Fashion Forward’s, but not as good as Trendsetter’s. There’s only a few options for what you can switch and one of the things I really wish they’d do is have the same styles in different colors. I’m still constantly split on the display backdrop because I don’t care for the color the one in the style I like is.
The music is a lot of fun and the concerts are always enjoyable to watch. The My Diva thing that will let you put in your character and/or some of your other favorites is a really neat feature and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
While modeling does not make a re-appearance (Which does make me sad–it was one of my favorite jobs from Fashion Forward and I loved the special photos you could get where your character could hold something special for it), there is a photo feature you unlock that lets you take photoshoots at least–just… no fancy modeling for your character. Which is a shame as you kind of get offered as such and I think being a singer and a designer would’ve been fun, but oh well :(
^There’s tons of poses though and a good amount of backgrounds so the options are there.
Speaking of backgrounds… There aren’t places to travel in this game. Sure, sometimes you travel with characters, but you can’t explore or choose to do so yourself. It’s especially a shame as one place has a fountain and I would’ve liked to take a picture there :(
There’s a lot of new clothing options and many that I really like, but I’m genuinely still bummed about the hair. One of the really nice new features you can unlock is the VIP Booth which allows you to view everything for sale in the Exhibition Hall at once. This is incredibly helpful as time is a big factor in the game.
The game does time differently than the last three games. Trendsetters had it so the month was the same, even if the day changed, while the original game and Fashion Forward both worked in real time. Styling Star actually works the way I’ve always wanted the game to work. The day has its own timer and then when you go to sleep/decide to end the day, the day actually progresses. The start date is whenever you first start playing the game, so for me, that was on Christmas Day (December 25th). I ended up finishing the game in April.
The only thing is the game will force the day to end after a certain amount of time. Going in and out of places makes more time pass. And how long you spend somewhere DOES matter. It’s not like you go in somewhere and time is frozen. And this kind of sucks. I don’t mind certain amounts of time changing the time of day, but I don’t like being forced to the next day.
When I unlocked the designing option (which, you can only sell your designs online–you can’t in your shop), I spent a very long time on my Emblem so I could make my custom shopping bag. When I finished, I lost nearly two days–a whole day passed and when my character “woke up”, it was already night the next day. This also made me start Alina’s story a bit late because Sunday ended up being completely skipped for me. This wasn’t fun and it made me feel like I constantly needed to rush around in order to get things done.
Not to mention I usually liked saving the Exhibition Hall for last so I’d have a good amount of money and empty stock to fill up. One nice thing about the game is the stock system is great–it’s really easy to restock on things and stock space upgrades a lot to the point where you really don’t have to worry about it after a while. I had some issues early on once or twice, but now I have 16,000 slots free and I have tons of clothes and it’s beautiful.
Character-wise: I really love many of the characters in this game. I didn’t find myself too attached to most of the other shop owners (I do love the bakery couple and Florian, the flower shop owner though), but I loved all the singers (Rosie, Yolanda, Alina, and Angelique) and pretty much everyone at NIN10. Also Camilla, Melvin, and Yolanda’s bodyguard were all great too. Oliver was probably the only one I could shrug off a bit–I expected him to be around more from how he was at the demo and what he said at the beginning and he just seemed to be forgotten amongst everything else as I feel like we never saw him except a bit towards the very end. I feel like I loved more in this game than Fashion Forward though.
I also liked how even several of the non-main characters had some of their own stories you got to help with. I would say my only complaint is we didn’t fully get to experience them–like the metal singing or Camilla’s own singing career and things. I get that it probably would’ve been more work, but with such a focus on concerts, I still kind of expected it? I’m also surprised we never heard another song from Angelique besides the opening.
That said… On the subject of singing and voices, I do want to talk about some of my issues with the localization. I’ve said it before that this is a port and if the British slang wasn’t enough to convince you, there’s all the notions of “Style Boutique”–the PAL region name of the game and the use of Celsius (and let me tell you I was very concerned when someone was talking about their room being at like 24 degrees) among a handful of other things.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m still happy to have the game, but for us to be the only place to not get a physical edition and to have had to wait when it’s literally just a port and so all they had to do was… un-region lock it, I just… It just feels a bit lazy and it frustrates me because the series deserves more love than it gets.
I also want to talk about Rosie’s voice. I have no issues with the singer. The singer clearly has a great voice and I’d like to look up more of her music. But her voice doesn’t fit Rosie. It doesn’t fit her personality or attitude or appearance or anything. And especially when you compare it to her Japanese voice which is much more high pitched. She should’ve been somewhere between Alina and Yolanda with a little closer to Alina, but instead she’s quite close to Yolanda’s voice and it doesn’t work. It’s the same issue I have with Zelda’s voice in Breath of the Wild–I have nothing against the voice actress and think she does a fine job, but it doesn’t work for the character, especially when comparing to the voice in Japanese. It’s a generic Princess voice. It isn’t Zelda.
Rosie’s voice is a generic pop singer from a farm–it’s not really fitting for her and that’s the problem.
I also will just… continue to be baffled by Yolanda’s name pick because of all her moon references and her even saying her name means moon (As her original name is Tsukiko) and Yolanda… does not mean moon. There’s so many good choices that would’ve worked so I don’t know why they went with that.
Finally, two of Alina’s songs are actually still in Japanese. And I mean, I guess maybe they wanted her to be like an Otaku but it’s still kind of weird?
Anyway, the game took me roughly 43 hours to complete. I still have like two seasons of clothes to look at, some side stories I know I haven’t finished, and other things I want to do so I don’t consider myself done with it yet. That said, the game does feel almost like a spin-off to the series rather than a new Style Savvy game. With a third 3DS title, there isn’t much difference with graphics (so we still have oddly floating hair and other issues), but the music and choreography is a lot of fun. But it took away a lot of the aspects of a fashion game to do it and while I enjoy it a lot and actually am okay with most of the changes/things removed, I think it could work better as a side thing.
I will say the town felt more alive to me in a way–especially as posters changed based on what was going on in the story versus just whenever you did a model thing in Fashion Forward with a few exceptions.
There’s a lot I’d like to see them do better (And honestly, maybe if they did one on the Switch, we could have a game that has the best parts of all three 3DS games), but I had fun with it. I don’t think the game will be a huge hit with everyone who is a fan of the series though depending on what they mainly play it for.
(Also Make it Glow is the best song. Just saying.)