A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn quite a bit about what goes into running a small retail business. Players must do market research, get to know their customers (and their likes and dislikes), manage company finances, visit a Buyer's Center to acquire stock for the store, and so on. Kids also learn to recognize various types of clothing styles (feminine, edgy, pop, etc.) and how to put together a working ensemble. Style Savvy Trendsetters cleverly turns a girl's interest in fashion into a way of teaching her about how a business is run.
People will surely be divided here. The game takes place in a town in which the only things anybody ever talks about -- literally -- are clothes, makeup, and hairstyling. However, the game is also a huge cheerleader for creativity, ambition, and solid business sense. You're not just playing dress-up, you're also running a business. So the obsession with fashion has a very pragmatic purpose within this game world. One thing that would raise the game's "message" score would be a greater variety of body types: You can choose your character's skin tone and even her height, but she's going to be runway model-thin no matter what.
Positive Role Models
Again, we're presented with a cast of characters who focus way too much on how they look -- but at the same time, these men and women (mostly women) are all take-charge-of-their-own-destiny types with big ambitions. They don't want to just get a haircut, they want to own the salon. They don't want to just shop for trendy dresses, they want to run a fashion empire.
Ease of Play
This sequel is made even easier than its predecessor (thanks mostly to a search function that basically prevents you from choosing the wrong kind of outfit for your customers, though it won't help in every case). The first hour or so of gameplay serves as a very clear tutorial process (though it's fun while you do it). The toughest part will be managing your virtual finances and making sure you don't overspend.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
When dressing a character, you can see his or her rather unsexy underwear.
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Products & Purchases
The game features a whole lot of shopping. And a heavy importance is placed on brand names -- though the brand names here are all fake ones made up for the game.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Style Savvy Trendsetters places a very high value on one's clothing and appearance, but that it's really a business simulation. Your child will not just be dressing up virtual customers, but also managing her shop's finances, networking with other local business owners, studying the fashion market to learn what's popular (and what makes a good purchase for her shop), learning how a store's decor can pull in certain types of customers, and more. For kids who are already into fashion, the game's message is: Don't just be a fan, be an industry player. While men's fashions finally make an appearance in the game, you can still only play as a female character -- a very thin female character.
Is It Any Good?
If you played the original, then Style Savvy Trendsetters will feel incredibly familiar to you. Basic gameplay is unchanged, though there are loads more fashions to choose from (including men's) and you can decorate your apartment as well. But the first Style Savvy had a winning formula, so the developers were probably wise in not messing with it too much. One thing they did do was remove a lot of the challenge. When a customer comes in and asks for an "edgy top," you can just search "edgy tops" and filter out every item that doesn't meet that description. Of course, no one ever forces you to use the search option. And there are tougher customers who won't tell you exactly what they want; you need to figure out their style by looking at what they're already wearing. Still, the whole thing feels easier than the first time around. But that's not necessarily a bad thing to just-for-fun players.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.