If you like clothes or fashion to pretty much any extent, I bet you will enjoy Style Savvy. See, my fashion experience doesn't go much past some America's Next Top Model and Project Runway, but I started playing this game and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! Well, long enough to write this review, but I was really surprised how much I, a 22-year-old guy, was enjoying running my boutique!
Style Savvy has a somewhat drawn-out tutorial mode which involves you working as an assistant in another boutique, but it does a great job of familiarizing you with the mechanics of the game. Afterward, you get to name your boutique, pick out an interior design (which determines which of the 16-something lines/styles of clothing you start with) and music, and then you're off and running!
There's a lot of things this game does well. Managing your boutique's inventory is a significant portion of the game, and it's pretty involved! You have a limited amount of money (There is a "bailout" option though in case you run out of both money AND inventory, so that the game is -never- unbeatable. Nothing frustrates me more than a game where I get into a hole so deep that it's impossible to progress, no matter how hard I try!) and a limited amount of space in your stockroom, so you have to plan out what you're going to want available for sale. The appearance of your boutique also influences what people will be looking for when they enter. However, much like a real store, you will still get people that want something you're not carrying, or are just browsing. You buy clothing at wholesale prices, and they're automatically marked up when you sell them in your boutique. After you've played enough, you gain the ability to run sales at 10%, 30%, and 50%, so that you can try to liquidate items that are cluttering up your stockroom, but not take the 100% loss of just discarding them. (You can't only have -some- pieces of sale, this was an error on my part. Either everything's on sale, on nothing is.) (Maybe the discard option should've been "donate", I'm sure somebody could use those clothes!)
When patrons (all female) enter your boutique, they might just be browsing, or looking for something particular, or not sure what they're looking for but needing it to match something they've brought in, or they might be in need of a whole not outfit! There's a TON of different people that you'll encounter, and each one has her own likes and dislikes. You get a little profile of each patron, with an approximate budget, a blurb about their personality, a view of what they're currently wearing, and any information they provide about what they're looking for. Sometimes if you can't find exactly what they asked for, you can offer them something that complements their current style/outfit. With every choice, you can either ask them what they think, or just make them try it on.
You can also design display outfits for your store mannequins, which tends to draw in customers. Sometimes, somebody will come in and want to buy your whole display outfit! (These are my favorite moments, it's really satisfying when they like something I put together just because I liked it.) And, of course, anything you've stocked in your store also appears in your character's wardrobe, so that you can always play around with your own fashions!
There are also fashion contests, where you are given a concept and a particular set of clothes, and you try to match the concept as closely as possible while competing against three other computer/AI-controlled boutique owners. These are great fun because they're just like big puzzles, since everybody's working with the same set of clothes.
You can also have fashion contests with up to three other people. One of you runs the competition, picking a theme and so forth, the other three submit outfits anonymously, and then you pick the outfit you like the most! These can be as challenging as you want to make them, as you can always verbally tell your participants more hints/criteria/restrictions than what the game might present.
Downsides? Well, the music in Style Savvy is... not one of its strong points. But it's easy enough to turn down the volume on your DS/DSi and just listen to some music you like instead!
Also, the menus can be a little slow/clunky because there's a little too much glitz in the display and I can be rather impatient when I know what I'm looking for and I just want to be able to get to it as quickly as possible. But maybe if you're more patient than I am, this isn't really a bad thing.
This game is played in "book mode", where you hold your DS/DSi sideways, with the +directional pad at the bottom. This feels a little strange and my hand isn't used to it so after a few hours of playing it gets a little cramped, but it really does make the most out of the available screen real-estate, and one should always be encouraged to take a break from ANY game after an hour or so.
There are several different skin tones for characters in Style Savvy, from a dark brown to a light peach, and even a "silvery-grey" for the mannequins. There are also a variety of eye colors and hair colors and styles. I -wish- Style Savvy had women of different sizes, but in the game's defense the sheer number of different clothing options and interactions between different pieces is extremely intricate as-is and it was undoubtedly easier to just have everyone be the same size/shape. Besides, if there were a variety of sizes, then I feel like that'd need to be accounted for in inventory, and that'd make the game too complex and not as much fun. It -is- just a game, after all!
I had to write a review of this game because it just knocked my socks off. I can see this game appealing to girls/women of all ages, and probably to some of the more secure guys out there, too! I give it a 5 for fun, and a 4 for overall design/quality.