2139: Black Friday


I’m exhausted, both physically and emotionally, so I hope you weren’t expecting anything too coherent or lengthy this evening. I’m still here, though, so let’s get this over and done with.

Worked the Black Friday weekend at work (yesterday and today) and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as much of a clusterfuck as I was expecting. It was fairly busy, but not to an excessive degree; we didn’t have hordes of customers trampling each other or anything, so that was something of a relief.

I feel I’ve settled into things quite nicely with this job. I’ve established some decent “work friendships” with the people I work alongside — having been burned a bit before by getting too close to certain people I worked with, I have been deliberately distancing myself a bit without seeming too impersonal — and I feel like I know what I’m doing a bit better than I did when I started. I evidently exude something of an aura of confidence in what I do, because a number of the other seasonal temps who started after me keep mistaking me for a full-time, permanent member of staff. This, in turn, gives me a bit of a confidence boost, which I’ve been sorely in need of.

As part of my recent work, we’ve been opening up a new store. This has been really nice, as rather than trying to fit in to an established environment, I’ve been able to take a certain degree of “ownership” over the new place right from the outset. I know where things are, I know how the place works, I know its little quirks and idiosyncrasies. Being much more spacious and better laid out than our previous premises, it’s also much more pleasant to work in generally.

So work’s been going well. It’s just a shame a lot of other things have been so shitty recently, because it’s really getting me down; had a bit of an emotional breakdown this evening when I reached my absolute limit of endurance, and while I think that “release” helped a bit, I still feel a bit crappy.

Still, holiday coming up next week, so I shall do my best to relax and enjoy it, and hope things improve from there onwards. I can but hope.

2138: How to Be a Fashion Goddess


Been playing a bunch of Nintendo Presents New Style Boutique 2: Fashion Forward (aka Style Savvy 3) during downtime lately, and been enjoying it without any shame whatsoever. It’s a decent game, reminding me somewhat of Animal Crossing but with “real” people and a bit more of a sense of direction and progression as you play through it.

I thought I’d assemble a few tips based on what I’ve encountered in the game so far, so without further ado:

Running the Boutique

This is your bread and butter, since you have a decent amount of control over how much money you make with each transaction. The basic strategy is to listen to what your customer wants, then put together an outfit using items you have in stock that add up to a total value as near as possible to their approximate budget. You can exceed their budget by a small amount, but try not to go too far over the top.

The Search function — the magnifying glass icon — is your best friend here, since until you have an idea of which items of clothing have which traits, it’s the easiest way to track down things that meet the customer’s requirements.

Early in the game, customers will make pretty simple requests of you, such as “I want a [trait] [item]”. Fulfilling this request is a simple matter of using the search function to search by Image and Type to narrow down your stock items to what they’re after. From there, pick the thing you think looks best — or, if you’re feeling mercenary, the thing that costs the most but is still within their budget — and offer it to them. To begin with, you can prompt them to “Take a look!” at the clothes, which will give you a couple of chances to correct any mistakes you might have made, but after you’ve made a bit more progress in the game, you have the option to confidently tell them to “Try it on!” if you’re absolutely sure you’ve found the perfect thing for them. If you make a mistake here, the customer will leave without buying anything, so use this with care!

After a while, you’ll have to start putting together complete outfits. This is the same process, only you’ll need to make sure you cover all the basics. At the very least you need one top (inner, shirt/blouse, outer), one bottom (trousers/shorts or skirt) and a pair of shoes or a dress to cover both. To squeeze a bit more cash out of your customer, try and adorn the outfit with some extras such as socks, gloves, earrings, bags and hats. Remember to stay close to their estimated budget, though.

Even later in the game, you’ll start running into characters in the street whom you served earlier. They’ll mention that they want to come and visit you later to find something to match the item you previously sold them. When they do show up, they won’t give you any reminders as to what the item’s traits were, so use a certain amount of judgement based on how they look now to recommend something appropriate — and use “Take a look!” if you’re unsure.

Stocking up

For the most part, customers will order things that you have in stock, thankfully, though you can influence what is fashionable to a certain degree using your shop window mannequin and your store’s decor. Certain items have multiple traits, though there is one “iconic brand” for each particular trait, so you can’t go too far wrong with sticking with what you know.

When paying the Exhibition Hall a visit to stock up, try and get a decent selection of items covering a range of budgets and at least all the essential areas — top, bottom, shoes. Remember that when you buy stock for your store, you get a free unit of the item for your own wardrobe, too. And the first time you visit a particular brand, you’ll get a complete outfit for free!

When you obtain the ability to design your own outfits, note that any commissioned items you successfully design will reward you with not only your payment for the job, but also ten units of the item you designed, which you are then free to sell. Taking on a bunch of design jobs can be an easy, cheap means of stocking up.


When you get the opportunity to help out Noor in the hair salon, the mechanics are a little different. Rather than just listening to the customer’s requirements, you have the opportunity to ask them a few questions. You only have a few chances to figure out what they want, however, so rather than making idle chitchat be sure to choose the options that relate to what they want done with their hair, and where there is more than one option relating to their hair, pick the more specific-sounding question.

Picking sensible questions will make notes on your memo pad about the customer’s requirements. After three or four questions, they’ll prompt you to begin, so with any luck you’ll have assembled enough hints to put something suitable together. Try and remember any terminology that they use, because other customers might ask for something similar later, and won’t necessarily explain it. Brush up on terminology using the glossary app in your phone if you’re not sure.

So long as you stay within the customer’s requirements, you can freestyle a bit with the hair with regard to things like colour and suchlike. Doing so can reward you with extra cash if the customer likes it, though if they don’t you will have a chance to correct the issue.

The more haircuts you perform, the more styles you will acquire, and completed hairstyles will be recorded in your “Wig Box” for later recall if you so desire.


This is a different process again. Here, customers will show up with a photograph of another character and ask you to do their make-up like them. By pressing the memo button at the bottom of the touchscreen you can flip the photo over to see the colour notes they made on the back; these are the important bits to follow, so take care of these first, then apply some finishing touches such as the correct amount of mascara based on the photograph.

Again, you can freestyle a bit with anything the customer doesn’t specifically state, but be sure to fulfil all their requirements first.

Fashion Show

Once you reach a particular level of fame, Ricky, Sophie and Callie will assist you in putting on a fashion show. Each of these will have a particular theme, and you’ll be required to dress your models in an appropriate outfit. Take note that following the fashion show, you’ll likely experience an upsurge in demand for items of a similar type, so be sure to stock up on items with the same traits ready to sell.

After the initial show, every few customers you serve will reward you with a ticket for your next show. When you sell enough tickets, you can put on another show.

The chalet

You’ll be rewarded with miniatures for various activities in the game, or just for chatting with people in the streets. You can also buy them from Kirsty in the shop next door to your boutique. It’s in your interest to make some nice rooms for a number of reasons: firstly, characters will sometimes come to you and express an interest in renting them, and this can be quite profitable. Secondly, if you connect with another player via local wireless, you can invite them to your chalet and they can purchase items from your rooms. You’re free to set the prices for these items to whatever you like, so if you have a rich friend, feel free to fleece them as much as possible.

As you progress through the game, you’ll get the opportunity to expand the chalet with additional rooms. Take this chance and fill the empty rooms whenever you can; the more available rooms means the more potential rent you can be raking in. Remember to go and collect the rent every so often, though, because your tenants certainly won’t come to you!

Collecting colours

To expand your colour palette, which is used in everything from clothing design to hairdressing and make-up, you need to collect additional colours. In order to do this, you need to chat with Rainbow, who is perpetually hanging out in the park, and show her a photograph with a colour she’s never seen before.

You can look at your colour palette at any time using the app on your phone, and the names of the undiscovered colours generally give a bit of a hint as to where you might be able to find them. Pay the appropriate area a visit (perhaps at the appropriate time of day) and take a photograph with the Y button, then show Rainbow the photograph to receive her assessment and the new colour if you were successful. Generally speaking, the first time you visit a new area you’ll be accompanied with another character, and you’ll have the opportunity to take a photo with them when you arrive. Take them up on this offer by tapping the Y button while your characters strike their poses, since this is usually a good shot to acquire some new colours.


Streetpassing other players has a few benefits. Firstly, you’ll receive their showcase chalet room, which you can drop into your own chalet. Secondly, their player character will come and hang out in your town for a bit, and while they’re there, you’ll have the chance to give them a complete makeover — clothes, hair and makeup. Streetpass customers, who appear as green on the map, aren’t terribly fussy, so you can use them as a creative outlet as you see fit. Then take their money.

Remember to set up your profile and showcase rooms in your chalet!

Building relationships

Chatting to characters on the map is mostly for flavour, though chatting to the more major characters can reveal some background information about your grandmother, the boutique and the town, so be sure to say hello if you see people like Sophie, Callie, Ricky and Evie hanging around. Elsewhere, characters marked with special icons have various uses.

The yellow asterisked characters are characters who have visited your boutique before; talking to them may prompt them to come and visit you again, perhaps to complete an outfit you sold them an item for earlier.

Characters with a pink musical note trigger a sub-event that sometimes unlocks something — a new location, a new game system or perhaps some new styles. It’s generally a good idea to trigger these when you see them, just in case the character wanders off and doesn’t come back for a while.

Characters with a patchwork exclamation mark will give you a hint where to find a new colour. Note that sometimes they will refer to locations you can’t visit yet, so pay attention to anything they say about unfamiliar locales ready for when you are able to visit.

Characters with a house icon want to rent a room in your chalet. You have the option to refuse their request, but there’s generally no real reason to unless you really just don’t like them for whatever reason. Rent is a nice little moneymaker on the side, so take the opportunity when it comes up.

A character with a crystal ball icon occasionally shows up in The Meadows. Speak to her and she’ll give you a fortune reading; answer her questions honestly, and she’ll give you an assessment of your personality.

Finally, characters with a yellow sparkle advance the storyline and often unlock important game elements. These characters will generally hang around until you pay attention to them, so feel free to leave them hanging until you’re done with your current affairs.


If your progress seems to have stalled a bit, head back to your boutique and make some sales; it usually won’t be long before the next event shows up. If this doesn’t work, keep selling, designing, cutting and… make-upping until you sell enough tickets for your next fashion show, then take it from there.

If you’re still not sure what to do, be sure to check your messages and schedule in your phone, since the latter in particular usually gives you some idea of what you “should” be doing to continue progressing in the game — though, like Animal Crossing and its ilk, you are, of course, free to ignore this altogether and play however you see fit.

Hope all that helps! Have fun, fashion sistas!

2137: Nintendoes


I’ve been playing almost exclusively Nintendo games for the past week or two. This wasn’t entirely deliberate, but it’s just sort of happened. And it’s allowing me to rediscover my appreciation of what Nintendo does well.

Nintendo, more than pretty much any other company out there, puts out games that feel satisfyingly complete. They don’t come out of the door half-baked, lacking in content or riddled with bugs; they’re ready to play, bursting with things to do and full of enjoyment waiting to be discovered. And this is how they’ve always been, even since the days of the NES.

The other thing I rather like about Nintendo is that their work has a very distinctive “voice”. This is partly the job of the localisation teams who work on the various properties, but the overall “tone” of most Nintendo works is so very consistent — and has been for many years — that I find it difficult to believe that this is purely a regional thing. Rather, I feel that Nintendo almost certainly makes very careful decisions about how it’s going to localise things and make them accessible and tonally appropriate in territories around the world. This even goes as far as making the British/European English and American English versions of games different to quite a considerable degree in some cases, which always feels like a pleasantly “personal” touch.

Now, Nintendo have attracted the ire of a number of people over the last few years thanks to what these folks see as unnecessarily “butchered” translations of games such as Fire Emblem Awakening and Xenoblade Chronicles X. And, for sure, some notable changes have been made from the original scripts — and, in a number of cases, content has been edited or even cut to be in keeping with the perceived values of a particular territory. Memorable examples in recent memory include the shot of Tharja’s panties-clad bum in Fire Emblem Awakening (which featured a curtain being pulled across it in the English version, inadvertently making it look more lewd by hiding her panties altogether) and the inexplicable removal of the breast size slider from Xenoblade Chronicles X‘s character creation tool.

These sorts of edits are nothing new, however. The Legend of Zelda series, for example, has a somewhat different tone in Japan to in the West, particularly in installments such as A Link to the Past on Super NES. In the Japanese original A Link to the Past, for example, the story touched on religious themes, with one of the main villains being a priest. In the English versions, however, religious references were removed, and the “priest” became a “wizard”.

Why does Nintendo do this? For an attempt at inclusivity, I guess; the company has a carefully curated “family-friendly” image to uphold, after all, and “family-friendly” means different things in different territories. From its localisation decisions, we can interpret that Nintendo believes here in the West that “family-friendly” means something that the whole family can sit down and enjoy together without any material provoking arguments or awkwardness between one another. We’ve seen on all too many occasions that discussions and material relating to both religion and sexuality are very much capable of inducing arguments and awkwardness, so out the window they go. It’s kind of a shame for those who prefer their translations to be more literal and true to the original Japanese texts, but it is, after all, what Nintendo has always done — and, I have to admit, that warm, friendly tone most of their localisations tend to have is rather comforting, and quite unlike anything from other localised Japanese works.

This is even apparent in games such as New Style Boutique 2 and Animal Crossing, where there was unlikely to be any real “offensive” content in the first place; both have been localised in such a way as to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible to a broad audience; they’re games that invite you in to enjoy the experience rather than insist you must be this skilled to ride, or whatever. And that’s rather nice, really. Not something that every game needs, of course — some games are all the better for their laser-sharp focus on a very specific, niche-interest audience — but, to be honest, I find it hard to get too riled up about censorship talk when it comes to Nintendo games, simply because I’ve grown up with that warm, friendly, familiar tone of their localisations, and it would feel kind of strange for that to change now.

Anyway. I’m enjoying my Nintendo period right now: currently playing Zelda 3, Hyrule Warriors and New Style Boutique 2. All are very different games from one another. All are simply marvellous. All are proof that Nintendo doesn’t give a shit what its competitors are doing, because they’re quite happy doing their own thing, even if it ends up causing their sales figures to look dismal in comparison to those of Sony and Microsoft.

I hope this Nintendo never goes away. They’re an important part of gaming, and it would be sad to see them go the way of Sega, becoming just another third-party publisher.

2136: Dark World


I am having a rough time, I don’t mind admitting. I was pretty open and honest about one of the things that was bothering me a few days ago, but it’s just one of several things that have been mounting up and causing me a not-inconsiderable degree of grief and stress just recently.

I would like it all to stop, please.

The person I care most about in the world is suffering with pain that won’t go away and that no-one seems to know how to fix. It’s at a point where it’s impacting both of our lives fairly significantly, but I don’t know what to do about it. Well, I sort of do: there isn’t really anything I can do about it myself, save for hanging in there and offering support when and how I can. I don’t resent having to do that, of course, but it is exhausting.

Alongside that, I find myself worrying about doing the right thing with regard to working. I’m enjoying my current seasonal temp position in retail, but at the back of my mind is always the knowledge that I’m underpaid, overworked and overqualified; a little voice in the back of my mind reminding me that I am 34 years old and should probably have done something a little more with my life by now.

The thing is, I’ve tried doing more with my life. I’ve tried being a teacher, and failed. I’ve tried having a “normal” office job, and failed. I’ve tried being a games journalist, and failed. In each and every instance, I’ve been pushed out by some combination of me being unable to stand up to people being assholes, my own declining mental health, my own lack of self-confidence and, on several occasions, events that were completely beyond my control.

It really, really blows to feel like you’ve wasted so many years of your life, and that you’re stuck on the “bottom rung” of the career ladder. It makes me feel guilty for enjoying the work I’m doing, because I “should” be doing more. But the thing is, I don’t really feel like I want to be doing more, nor do I feel like I’m entirely capable of doing more. My experiences since leaving university have proven to be such repeated and violent blows to my own sense of belief in my own abilities that I just want to be able to get on with things and let progress happen naturally if it’s warranted.

I really don’t know what to do any more. I guess I just have to ride this particular mental storm out, just as I’ve ridden out all the previous ones I’ve suffered over the years. This one feels like quite a bad one, but I can’t give up; I mustn’t give up. Giving up will simply make everything worse.

Forgive the self-pity, but as you can probably tell, I’m not in a great place right now. You will, dear reader, hopefully understand if I am somewhat out of sorts and in need of venting a bit of steam over the next few days, weeks, months…

2135: Zelda 3: Still Great


I remember playing Zelda 3, or The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, to give it its full title, for the first time. It was an eye-opening experience; prior to this, most of the games I’d played on computer and console had been fairly straightforward arcade-style affairs — you put them in, you hit Start, you start playing from the beginning, you get as far as you can get before hitting a Game Over screen, you try again.

A Link to the Past was different, though. Having never owned my own NES, the series was new to me, and so I didn’t know that it had been providing this sort of ongoing, lengthy grand adventure for quite some time prior to its Super NES incarnation. But I was immediately enraptured with it; here was a game that provided me with a convincing open world to explore, some challenging dungeons to defeat, a convincing sense of getting stronger and more powerful as the game progressed, and an enjoyable, if somewhat simple, story to follow.

I played A Link to the Past through numerous times, so much did I enjoy it. It got to the stage where I could run through the game pretty much on autopilot, though I must confess I never quite reached total completionist status with it; I enjoyed the experience of progressing through the game and beating it rather than doing things like hunting down the myriad Pieces of Heart scattered around the game’s two worlds.

My love for Zelda waned a little over the years. I recall being a little underwhelmed with Ocarina of Time when I first played it, though I can partly attribute this to the fact that I had been playing Final Fantasy VII around a similar time and, to my inexperienced, rather shallow eyes, they simply didn’t compare to one another. I enjoyed Ocarina of Time enough to finish it, mind, but I didn’t love it in quite the same way I loved A Link to the Past. I did, however, love Majora’s Mask in the same way I loved A Link to the Past, but that’s probably a story for another day.

Anyway, to the point: after finally finishing (the first quest of) the original Legend of Zelda the other day, I felt like continuing my journeys through Hyrule, so I skipped Zelda II, not quite feeling up to its punishing ways at present, and went straight to A Link to the Past. (For the Zelda-illiterate: most of the Zelda games tell their own, self-contained stories that feature characters with the same names and same appearances as those in other games, but who are actually different people from different times. This means that skipping a game in the series doesn’t mean you’ll skip important plot, though if you care to research it there is a complicated, convoluted chronology of how it all fits together.)

I was immediately reminded how much I love this game, even so many years after I last played it. It has an extremely strong opening — one of the reasons it made me sit up and take notice the first time I played it — and some highly memorable music. It’s also a massive, massive improvement mechanically on the original Legend of Zelda, which it most closely resembles; Zelda II went off and did a bunch of weird things with RPG mechanics and platforming, but A Link to the Past was a return to the original formula, but better.

And everything really is better. Instead of having to wander around aimlessly, hoping you’ll find the right order to challenge the dungeons, you’ll be nudged in the right direction by the game, though you’ll never be completely railroaded, and you are free to go off and explore any time you want. There’s also a much stronger sense of the overall map being a coherent world; Hyrule may be relatively small, apparently consisting of only a single village and a castle that is bigger than the whole village, but there are plenty of interesting things going on and memorable characters to stumble across.

And, somewhat surprisingly for a Nintendo game if you’re used to Mario and its ilk, A Link to the Past is pretty dark and bleak in places. The strong opening I mentioned before sees Link acquiring his first sword and shield by stumbling across his dying uncle, who had left the house in Link’s stead earlier in the night in an attempt to save him from the trouble that becoming the Hero of Hyrule would be. Later, there are other equally subtle, sad scenes, such as the spirit of the young flute-playing boy in a clearing, whom you later discover close to death in the Dark World, a realm that deforms body and spirit, so you grant his dying wish before he gives up on life entirely and turns into a tree.

In many ways, it’s kind of stunning to think that the same creative mind behind Super Mario Bros. also came out with Zelda, something that, while still ultimately pretty family-friendly, is a quantum shift away from Nintendo’s mascot in terms of tone. I’ve spent a good few years feeling like I wasn’t a particular fan of Zelda, since I felt as if none of them quite captured my attention in the same way as more conventional role-playing games, which had, of course, subsequently turned out to be a favourite genre. After enjoying the first and third Zelda games so much so far, though — not to mention Hyrule Warriors — I feel like it’s probably time to educate myself on the series as a whole, so I’m going to try and work my way through them one by one. Who knows — I may even make it through Zelda II one of these days, though not today…

2134: Hyrule Warriors is My New Favourite Musou


I’d been meaning to check out Wii U title Hyrule Warriors for some time, and my recent Zelda bingeing seemed to be an ideal time to do it. I primarily picked the game up as something to play as a co-op game with a local friend, but I’ve found myself playing through a number of missions this evening and having a great deal of fun.

I’ve always enjoyed the Musou games since Dynasty Warriors 2 on PlayStation 2. Their hack-and-slash nature appeals to the brawler fan in me, but they’ve always had a surprising amount of depth to them — not necessarily in the combat itself, but in choosing the right characters for the job, keeping an eye on the overall battle situation, and responding appropriately to what is happening.

For the unfamiliar, the Musou series covers the various Warriors games, including the Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi series. Hyrule Warriors was an interesting break from the norm for developers Omega Force in that rather than being loosely (very loosely, in some cases) based on established historical fiction such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms, it’s based on an established other property — in this case, the Legend of Zelda series.

It isn’t the first time Omega Force has tackled a licensed Musou game; there are Warriors games based on the popular anime and manga One Piece, Fist of the North Star and Gundam, among others. But Hyrule Warriors is arguably one of the more “accessible” properties that the team has chosen to adapt into the Musou style, since Zelda is one of Nintendo’s properties with near-universal appeal, and much more ripe for adaptation than, say, Mario.

Hyrule Warriors, like its stablemates, casts you in the role of one of several different playable characters and tasks you with turning the tide of a large-scale battle on a sprawling map. Your character is just one part of your “side’s” overall efforts, but you’re considerably more powerful than the rather dim footsoldiers that litter the battlefield, usually standing around looking perplexed. You’re not alone, though; in two-player mode, a second player takes on the role of one of the other present allied generals to support you, and even in single-player you’ll find yourself fighting alongside other characters: they’ll come to your aid, but you’ll be expected to do the same in return.

In what I’ve played of Hyrule Warriors so far, there seems to be quite a bit more variety than, say, the Dynasty Warriors series, thanks in part to the setting being considerably more fantastic than ancient China. But it’s not just about the monstrous enemies and magic flying around — it’s also about varied objective during battle. It’s pretty rare, even in the early stages of the game, to be confronted with a battle that simply involves cutting a path to the enemy boss; instead, you’ll find yourself supporting your troops in various areas, capturing strongholds to gain a foothold and advance into enemy territory, dealing with counterattacks from enemies and, in true Zelda style, occasionally accidentally clipping a chicken one too many times with your sword and inviting the wrath of its myriad friends, who will come and peck you to death in pretty short order.

The game also makes use of its Zelda roots well by adding a number of mechanics based on the iconic Zelda inventory items. As you progress through the game’s “Legend” mode, you’ll acquire various items that can be used in battle, ranging from bombs (blow stuff up, reveal secrets) to a bow and arrow (shoot things) and a boomerang (cut down things that a sword just won’t chop). Fulfilling various secret requirements in battle will also reward you with heart containers and pieces of heart to extend your characters’ life bars, and Ocarina of Time’s Gold Skulltulas make an appearance, too, spawning on the battlefield when you fulfil a specific condition and then requiring you to track them down by searching a marked area of the map and listening carefully for their telltale scraping sounds.

I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of the game so far; I’ve only played Legend Mode as of now, but there are a variety of other ways to play, with one of the most interesting sounding being Adventure Mode, which tasks you with exploring a grid-based map based on the original NES Legend of Zelda game and fighting various battles in order to take control of it piece by piece. I don’t yet know how well this is executed, but I’m looking forward to trying it out. Even if it turns out to be bobbins, though, just the battles in Legend Mode have proven to be more than worthwhile and enjoyable so far — and it looks very much as if the game has continued to develop and expand long after launch, if the multiple pages of patch notes that appeared the first time I booted the game up are anything to go by!

I’m looking forward to trying it out co-op later this week, all being well, but in the meantime I can already confidently say that it’s one of the best Musou games I’ve played to date, and anyone who enjoys a good bit of hack and slash should most definitely check it out, Zelda fan or no.

2133: Fashionista


I remember a while back hearing a lot of people being surprisingly enthusiastic about a Nintendo-published handheld game called Style Savvy, but I never really got around to looking into it. Recently, however, I downloaded the demo of the somewhat cumbersomely named Nintendo Presents New Style Boutique 2: Fashion Forward — the European name of the third Style Savvy (or, in Japanese, Girls Mode) game — and have found myself surprisingly involved with it.

For the unfamiliar, New Style Boutique 2 (as I shall refer to it hereafter) is a game in which you play a young woman on holiday in a hip, fashion-conscious town. Through a series of somewhat improbable circumstances that only happen in slice-of-life video games, you find yourself assisting a local clothes shop, hairdresser and beautician with the requests of the town’s apparently exclusively female population. In doing so, you earn money for the shop and yourself, and can subsequently afford to do yourself up better as well as your customers.

This is as far as the demo goes, but the full game has a story to follow as well as a number of different “professions” to explore, including modelling, fashion design and even interior design. Just the demo is an enjoyable enough experience, though, since it’s essentially a game in which the whole point is to piss around with the character creator in order to create various different looks, and subsequently be rewarded for it.

The exact way in which you go about creating these looks differs slightly depending on which aspect of the character’s appearance you are working on at the time. If you’re putting together an outfit, they’ll give you some vague guidelines — “I want a girly outfit, and I have about £700 to spend” — and you can put together an outfit according to those specifications, either through browsing manually or making use of the helpful search function. If you’re designing a hairstyle, meanwhile, you’re given the opportunity to ask the customer a variety of questions before beginning the styling process, which will give you a checklist of things to include in their haircut. Finally, designing makeup requires you to look at a photograph and attempt to recreate it as closely as possible, perhaps with the assistance of a memo scrawled on the back of the photograph giving you some suggestions of which colours to use in which areas.

What’s nice about the game is that unlike many “business” simulations that attempt to capture the feeling of, say, running a shop or office, New Style Boutique 2 has plenty of personality. Its characters all have names and profiles, and they all display their personalities through dialogue — though there is a bit of stock dialogue for things like them accepting outfits and suchlike. They also have distinctive, unique appearances, and it’s undeniably satisfying to see a character wandering around wearing an outfit you put together for them.

I don’t know how much the other elements of the full game add to the experience as a whole, but based on the demo, I’m actually surprisingly interested in playing it, and I understand now why so many people have had positive things to say about the Style Savvy series as a whole since it first appeared.