New Style Boutique 3: Styling Star is the latest installment in the hit casual fashion boutique franchise from syn Sophia, and it will cater to fashion gurus and fashion goofs alike. New Style Boutique 3 starts off with you being given your uncle’s boutique. He wants to move on to other things and suspects you’ll be able to handle it better than he ever did anyway. This begins your journey into fashion, on which you’ll help many young women learn to express themselves through fashion and gain a newfound confidence in who they are. It’s a charming game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it does take a while to open itself up fully and as such does get a bit repetitive at times.
For the bulk of the game, you’ll be listening to people’s style requests and providing clothes that meet their demands. Some of these are simple, like giving them anything that’s red, while others will be more complicated, like providing a whole outfit that matches their makeup. The simple challenges are good while you’re still building up an inventory of clothing and getting used to how the game works, but they still pop up hours into the game. You can filter your store’s sock using a really intuitive system which renders these requests pointless because you can narrow your selection down to the matching items in a couple of seconds and there’s no challenge to it.
The game gets much more interesting when you have to think about your outfit’s design – some of the requests are too vague to filter your stock too much, and even when they’re not you need to put effort into making a cohesive outfit. Even if all the items you’ve selected fit the brief, if they don’t match up then the client won’t be happy. It’s surprisingly engrossing putting together outfits and despite not knowing the slightest thing about fashion I created some results that I was really proud of. The only times I ran into major issues were when I got failed for requirements I didn’t know I had to meet, like when I put together a great outfit that met the brief perfectly, only to be failed because it was too cold an outfit for the current weather. I’d never been told that was something the game would take into account!
When you’re ready for a client to try on your choice of clothes you’ll have two options of presenting it – you can confidently tell them to try it on, which is the high-stakes option. You’ll only have one chance to meet their demands this way, but there’s a chance of some added bonus – you may be able to coerce them into spending a bit outside their budget or buy something that doesn’t quite meet the brief. You may even get them so excited about what they’re wearing that they’ll ask for another item, or even a whole outfit to go with it! But of course, if you’re off base then they’ll most likely just walk out without buying anything at all, so there’s an element of risk and reward there. If you’re not feeling 100% certain that you’ve done what’s required then there’s also a more passive option that will give you another chance if you’ve made a mistake, but there’s no chance of bonuses through this method of presentation.
You’ll get into a loop of fulfilling requests to get paid and spending your earnings on replenishing your stock. There’s a variety of brands with their own styles that you’ll unlock access to over the course of the game, and they’ll each open a stall in the big exhibition hall. While the rest of the game would be perfectly suited for younger gamers, this part might be a bit challenging. You’ll be dealing with high and irregular amounts of money so they may need some assistance when it comes to budgeting.
You can also unlock access to other styling methods like hair styling and make-up, which add some much-needed variety to the gameplay. You’ll be given requirements to meet just like with outfit designing, but it’s a bit more challenging due to not being able to filter things as easily. It takes too long to access these features though – I was hours in and had fulfilled dozens and dozens of clothing requests before I unlocked any of them, and by that point, I’d started to get bored of doing the same old thing over and over. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I could have spread myself across more activities earlier on, and had more challenging requests made more often.
You’ll meet many diverse characters throughout your time in Styling Star and some of them become recurring characters in the plot, with their own stories that will unfold. These are all cute and feel-good, with each young woman coming into their own and getting to live out their dreams. The game’s cast is brought to life through writing and animations that are charged with personality, and it’s a nice feeling gradually building bonds with each character. They’ll come to you for assistance in styling ready for key events in their lives like business meetings or their first concert performance. You have a bit of freedom in how to approach these sometimes – one of the characters you befriend early on is an aspiring pop star who’s undecided in their direction. Should they follow through with the feminine style they’re comfortable with, or push their boundaries and try out a rock star image. I got her to venture out of her comfort zone with some rock-themed outfits and this was reflected in the songs and photo shoots she participated in, they got a bit grungier and rocking.
But despite the game making, you feel like there’s a lot at stake when it comes to each character’s dilemmas, you don’t appear to be able to fail when it counts. I had to try really hard to get them to accept outfits that didn’t meet the requirements, and the worst consequences I encountered in my experiments were some slightly awkward conversations. Afterwards, the characters just gave me another chance as if nothing had happened and I could pass the challenges successfully. I get why it’s like this (the developers don’t want you stressing out!) but it breaks the illusion quite a bit.
A lot of these storylines have key beats that resolve with a climactic musical performance. Each of these is catchy and flashy, but some of the lyrics have awkward translations that stand out. While watching these is a nice reward, it does mean you don’t feel overly involved in the big finales of the plot. The other characters are the ones who’ve been working hard and get to show off what they’ve got, while you just decide what they look like while doing it. It would’ve been nice if you got to play a part in these sequences like providing the choreography.
There’s a nice level of personalisation options available in Styling Star. You can create your own avatar who you can dress and style however you want, although unfortunately, they can only be female. I had a lot of pride in my avatar’s dress sense and loved experimenting with some more outlandish styles. You’ll eventually unlock the ability to customise aspects of your boutique as well, from the sign out front to the bags customers will carry their purchases in. You’ll even be able to create your own clothing items by mixing templates and patterns. If you’ve got some amiibo there are even some exclusive Nintendo-themed design elements to make use of. For more info on the amiibo functions, check out Mon Amiibo’s amiibo guide for New Style Boutique 3.
New Style Boutique 3: Styling Star is successful in being what it sets out to be – a feel-good casual game that you can sit back and relax with. I loved putting scouring my inventory for the perfect item to add to the current ensemble, trying to make the best outfit within the requirements. Unfortunately the game took too long to get going and still liked throwing overly basic challenges on me hours into the game. While too much challenge would contradict the game’s vision, the higher levels of challenge that are here are where the game’s systems shine the most. Nonetheless, it’s worth a look if you’re after something more chill and it would be great for younger gamers who need something simple and stress-free to play.
Rating: 3.5 / 5