Those who love fashion simulation games as much as I do will likely remember a series for the Nintendo and 3DS known as Style Savvy (also known as Style Boutique and Girls Mode). Developed by Syn Sophia, this series of games was exceptional.
They each had their own stories as to how you came into owning a boutique of your own, you’d meet lively, memorable characters during your time as a stylist, and most importantly, you had customisation options galore. Since the release of Style Savvy: Styling Star in 2017, which featured a pop idol twist, fans have been in desire of a new dress-up game like Style Savvy for the Nintendo Switch.
Syn Sophia listened, of course, and recently dished out Fashion Dreamer for Nintendo’s hybrid handheld. That said, despite being unable to put it down for the past week or two, it was far from what I’d hoped. As much fun as it is to hand out my unwarranted fashion advice to folk, the game is dull, flat, and lifeless compared to its spiritual predecessors.
We’re living in the age of social media (or the collapse of it, if you’re feeling cynical), and Fashion Dreamer has attempted to make this the core caveat of its game, to its detriment. Rather than opening up a boutique, tending to customers’ needs and visiting the Exhibition Hall to buy new clothes, Fashion Dreamer is all about gaining social media followers. The memorable characters we previously had have been exchanged for caricatures that aren’t half as engaging, your ‘boutique’ is merely a Showroom that players can visit rather than having any substantial purpose, and even clothing customisation feels half as exciting as it once did.
With all of that in mind, this didn’t stop me from tirelessly playing the game for hours on end. While it’s far from what I expected it to be, and far removed from how full of life and engagement the Style Savvy series was, there’s still a lot of fun to be had in dishing out unwarranted fashion advice to NPCs or other player’s Muses. Each time you do so, you gain followers, and the more followers you gain, the more hub areas (known as Cocoons) that you can visit.
Even then, the excitement of unlocking a new hub area to explore is lacking; they’re all the same, featuring some characters to give fashion advice to, a salon, and a pop-up area where you can collect new clothes. There’s no incentive to actually keep going with Fashion Dreamer after a while; you’re not boosting a boutique’s profits anymore, you don’t have to diligently earn cash from customers to buy new clothing items, and so forth. There’s no limits, which is great for some players, but damaging for just how engaging the game actually is.
Syn Sophia has successfully modernised the series, and it’s certainly not let players down in terms of just how many items of clothing are available. If you want a game where you can repeatedly dress-up characters over and over again in new clothing, Fashion Dreamer is just that. You can take plenty of photos of your characters outfits, amass a huge social media following, and unlock more clothes while doing so. But that’s it for Fashion Dreamer’s gameplay loop. It’s similar enough to the Style Savvy series, but the lack of a challenge or an overarching goal beyond gaining as many social media followers as possible feels like a let-down.
Let me reiterate that as lifeless as Fashion Dreamer often feels, I still can’t call it a bad game. I definitely had fun playing it, and will no doubt return to it when I feel like mindlessly playing dress-up. But the lack of a challenge, goal, or any real gameplay beyond amassing cult status among the fashion world has seen me doing one thing I never quite imagined doing in 2023, and that’s returning to Style Savvy. While Fashion Dreamer is undoubtedly granting the freedom that I imagine a lot of players have been dreaming of, I can’t quite help but miss the challenge that its spiritual predecessors provided.