Style Savvy: Trendsetters

What is it?

Style Savvy: Trendsetters (Abbreviated as SS:T for the purposes of this post) is a video game developed by syn Sophia for the portable Nintendo 3DS system. It is the second in a continuing series of fashion simulation video games. Only the first two have been translated and localized for North America. As of the time of this writing, the third installment is only available overseas in the European and Japanese markets.

I will preface this by saying that while SS:T is extensive in terms of gameplay options, I will mainly be focusing on the features I have the most familiarity with. If I had to talk about every single aspect of the game, it really would be information overload. I also apologize for the low quality imagery found here. I don’t have a capturing device for my 3DS and was forced to use my smartphone camera instead.

The joys of running your own clothing store!

The player character created for the purposes of this blog post. Her name is MEGATRON. Here she is illegally downloading music and pirating TV shows.

The premise of this game is to let players experience the thrill of managing a clothing store. Without, of course, the unpleasantness of things like rent, paperwork, paying your employees and so on. In the beginning, you’re a nameless, faceless character who happens to come across a clothing boutique called “Mira Luna”. You end up meeting the manager (Michaela), who asks you for your name and birthday (Under the premise of getting to know you better). She soon lets you serve a visiting customer (An authentic retail situation if there was ever one). Seeing your potential and fashion prowess, Michaela offers you a job as a sales assistant and sends you home for the day.

Your co-worker and eventual friendly rival, Emmylou, shows up to the store and your new boss begins describing you to her. At this point, you begin creating your distinctly anime-esque female avatar (No option for a male character). There are seven customization categories: Face shape, eyes, eyebrows, mouth, hairstyle, skin tone and height with a handful of options for each. It’s not the most robust character customizer but it’s definitely good enough for this game.

The numerous characters in town have their own budget, style and personality. As a cold-blooded businesswoman, it’s up to you to meet their every need so they spend, spend, spend!

The following day, Michaela and Emmylou begin teaching you the ins-and-outs of the business, including how to meet the needs of visiting customers (Driven through through an in-game search engine), restocking items and purchasing new pieces (Through the nearby “Buyer’s Center”) and having conversations with the locals around town (Every single character in the game has a name and a tiny bit of flavour text describing him or her).

Going through hundreds of items in your inventory is easy, thanks to a decently robust search system.

Each potential or returning customer has a set budget for their request. If you exceed their budget, they won’t bother trying on your suggestions. Most are pretty clear on what style they want but sometimes you have to guess from the clothes they’re wearing as to what they’re looking for. Successfully helping out customers adds to the store’s revenue and increases your happiness (More on this later). As the customer requests become more varied, you’ll be taking more and more trips to the “Buyer’s Center” to add to your store inventory. Every item you purchase also gets added to your personal wardrobe for free, which makes changing your character’s outfits that much easier.

One of the first things new players will notice is that the day cycles from morning to late night. Certain areas of the town are only accessible at certain times of the day and special events are generally tied to specific times. If for whatever reason you leave the game idle and aren’t doing anything in particular, time will pass in-game as well. At any point, you can go home and advance to the next in-game day.

Your apartment gives you a few additional gameplay options outside of the store experience. You can change your character’s outfit, your makeup and even the furnishings. It’s the only place where you can save your game progress in the beginning. It’s also here where you can use your cellphone, which gives access to things like text messages, an ever growing list of customers as well as multiplayer and online features.

The happiness jar

The Happiness Jar and the Moon are key to opening up new features and most importantly, opening up more available inventory space in the store.

This measure of your daily happiness is your means to progress through the game. As you successfully complete tasks, change your look or have positive conversations with others, the jar slowly fills up. After every in-game day, the jar empties and fills up a secondary meter, the moon. Your basic goal is to advance the phase of the moon, where a full jar is the equivalent of a full moon. Each full moon opens up more of the game. This can range from additional inventory space for the store, new brands available to purchase at the Buyer’s Centre, opening up new areas on the town map and much more. You will even unlock men’s items and male customers much further on in the game.

Eventually, after about a couple of hours of gameplay and a few full moons later, you’re given the reins to “Mira Luna” as the new owner and manager. New options open up include renaming the store and changing the overall look of the shop to suit your tastes. Like the character customizer, only a few options are available from the get-go.

(Almost) everything else

One of the game’s best features is the Style Index. As you go through conversation text, certain keywords will be highlighted. By optionally clicking the bottom of the touchscreen, you can see a corresponding definition or explanation. This is especially useful for learning about everyday fashion terms as the text is simple and easy to grasp. Whether a beginner or an experienced fashion aficionado, you can learn a few things just by spending a few minutes reading the Style Index. The entire glossary of terms can be accessed at any time from your cellphone.

Fashion contests at the Contest Hall are a competitive event pitting you and a random model against three other participants to see who can design the best outfit. You’re given a theme/style to follow, which amounts to just using the search feature and going nuts with whatever clothing items are available. Unlike the store, there is no budget constraint for your entry. You’re also given the opportunity to purchase any of the four outfits you see in the competition. Winning ten contests at a certain level moves you into more prestigious contests. It should be noted that this is the best way to fill up your happiness jar (Assuming you get first place).

As mentioned earlier, new areas on the map can be unlocked as you progress. Three of these include the Hair Salon, the Makeup Studio and the Furniture Shop. The first two add more options in which to customize your player avatar. The latter, as the name suggests, allows you to buy furniture for your apartment. Surprisingly, redecorating your home is a rather dull and mundane feature. Note that all three take money from your character’s personal funds, which are separate from your store’s budget.

Lastly, there is no real endgame or ending to achieve. The experience as a whole is its own reward. Technically, the game does “end” when you successfully win a certain fashion contest much later on, resulting in the staff credits rolling. However, you can still continue playing afterwards and are rewarded with the option to customize your character at your leisure, just like you did way back in the beginning of the game.

Share your outfits to the world

If you have a Wi-Fi connection available, there are a handful of online features to complement the main game, including free downloadable content/outfits as well as outfits created by other players in the Fashion Plaza mode (But purchased using your character’s personal funds as opposed to real money).

The only three brands available as DLC. Thankfully, these are downloadable free of charge!

It should be noted that the speed of these online features is not unlike a 56k modem from the 90s. Nintendo has traditionally never been the best at developing adequate network infrastructure for its customers. Things are better these days, especially with its Wii U console system. But SS:T, being a few years older (It was released in North America in 2012), can be noticeably slow, even on a decent broadband connection.

Regardless, the Fashion Plaza is one of the best features in the game. There’s the human element in that you’re seeing outfits created by your fellow players from around the world (Or at very least, your geographical region). It’s also a good way to add pieces to your personal wardrobe that you may missed or never seen at the Buyer’s Center.

The Fashion Plaza lets you purchase outfits created by real people and also let’s you open up your own online store to gain additional in-game income.

A surprisingly fun experience

Most fashion games tend to be poorly made, have shallow gameplay or are just not very fun to play. SS:T, on the other hand, is not particularly intensive, but it’s still easy to lose track of time while playing it. I always have a lot of fun with it due to its pick-up-and-play gameplay, which doesn’t require a significant chuck of my time in order to make progress. More importantly, the clothes are visually appealing and well designed, making outfit coordinating that much more fun. I bought the game on a whim and thankfully, I have no regrets.

The game was well received on release with an aggregate score of 76 from review site Metacritic (Albeit from only five professional game reviews). I’m not sure what the series’ overall sales numbers are but seeing as there are three games total (Not counting the updated re-release of this game in Japan), it must be having some modicum of success. I’m crossing my fingers that the third entry eventually gets released for North America.

Style Savvy: Trendsetters is still in print and available at video game retailers, if not at brick and mortar stores then definitely online. It can also be purcahsed digitally on Nintendo’s 3DS eShop.