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In Style Boutique for the Nintendo DS, it's down to you to up the fashion quota for handheld consoles everywhere, by inputting your own creativity into the world of digital clothing. As owner of your own apparel store, you can purchase, collect and model the latest DS fashions, not only catering to your customers but to your friends too.
The Nintendo DS has been credited along with the Wii for pushing the perception of gaming to new people, with different methods of interaction. With this expanding market, new styles of games aimed at different audiences have become available, case in point, Style Boutique. Ubisoft has had a string of hits in their Imagine series of games, from running a Restaurant to designing a Fashion Model. Nintendo, never one to leave money on the table, here steps up to show us how it is done.
Taking on the role of an erstwhile fashion store owner and designer, you must use your finances wisely to stock your shop with only the latest, and fanciful clothing available, creating your own style with clothes, accessories and shoes. All the while you act as personal shopper to your potential customers, who simply hand you a budget and allow you to dress them how you like. If they're happy, they'll come back again or perhaps continue to spend, so it pays to have a good eye for trendy outfits.
Keeping your stock updated is something that must be managed also, with seasonal changes taken straight from the DS calendar being one of the more integral parts of gameplay in Style Boutique. This helps the game stay fresh as you're constantly kept on your toes making sure you have the latest fashions available for your customers.
That said, there are no must have items, and you're perfectly at liberty to sell whatever you like meaning you can create your store's own style. With over 10,000 different items to choose from, you'll be certain to create a plethora of outfits that your digital customers will enjoy.
They aren't the only ones who can appreciate them though - the game can be played wirelessly with up to three friends, hosting fashion runways to see who has the best style and eye for the latest trend. This can be taken a step further too, as if two players have Style Boutique game cards, they can connect up their DS consoles locally and visit each other's stores, even allowing them to download their favourite assortments. This can also be done wirelessly though if you can utilise Nintendo's WiFi connection.
While playing Style Boutique, I definitely enjoyed the customisation abilities of the title the most. Not only are you able to make yourself look however you want, but your line of clothing is purely down to you, and thanks to the huge amount of items you can mix and match from, you're sure to have a different experience every time you play.
My little girl (four) really enjoyed the character creation tool. It was great to see her spend hours pondering over a selection of head shapes, eyes and lips, along with the ability to choose hair colour, style and add makeup. I was interested that the shapes she often chose were pretty far from the Barbie-like super-slim models on the box. It was good to find a game that could accommodate a range of different body-images.
Style Boutique is an interesting title, as it not only creates a new gaming experience, but puts a considerable effort into making this look, sound and feel the business. It's very relaxed and has an extremely casual attitude which is nice to find. Keeping your stock updated however, and developing your own style keeps you on your toes just enough to make you want to play more; while never making you feel rushed. It's got a cute graphical style that will appeal to this game's target audience, and with its high levels of customisation there is no reason why Style Boutique can't keep your fashion cravings occupied for a long time to come.
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