John Carpenter’s Style Savvy


Some of you don’t know Style Savvy, and don’t get the joke. Yet others do know Style Savvy, but also don’t get the joke. Here is the joke.

Ricky: I don't believe in mysterious powers. The rooms here are clearly just coincidence.

Brenda: You've woken something inside of me and there's only one thing it wants.

Sasha: It's just so....mesmerizing, I can't take my eyes off it.

Evie: Actually, I also heard that the brand you're designing for is a know...out there.

Style Savvy, also known as Girl’s Mode or Style Boutique, is a fashion game franchise that started on the Nintendo DS. It’s been consistently developed by syn Sophia, which seems to be best known for pro wrestling games (makes sense honestly). Recently, a game called Fashion Dreamer for the Nintendo Switch was announced, and after some digging, it was confirmed that yes, this is the latest iteration of Style Savvy with yet another name.

Style Savvy DS

I never played the original DS game, although I’ve seen people write about it. It’s one of the rare games that had you play in portrait mode/tate mode, a trait it abandoned for future releases. (Actually, now that I think about it, did any 3DS games do the portrait mode deal? I feel like it lived and died with the DS…) I managed to find a game trailer and take some representative screenshots.

She is learning the ocarina because she can't whistle
"Today, since it's my day off, I want to buy a dress that matches my footwear"

Yes, every NPC comes with a fun fact

April: She has her own special tea cup
"What kind of top would look good on me? I haven't be able[sic] to find any."

Another example of a customer request

Sell More Than 10,000 Fashions

AZ-USA 04218
Black-lace corset dress

Each fashion style has a representative brand – AZ-USA is kind of gyaru/clubwear. (And also an LA area city.)

Black and red kinda "rock" styled interior for the Bold style (gyaru-ish)
Pink colorful rainbow interior for the Pop style

Different available shop interiors, corresponding to the in-game styles. April Bonbon is one of the ‘pop’ brands.

Compete in Runway Contests

The means by which you ‘progress’ the game, probably.

Style Savvy: Trendsetters

The first one I did play, Style Savvy: Trendsetters, followed the same formula as above, along with a pretty basic storyline from what I remember. You’re a girl setting out in the big city to become a stylist; you start working in a boutique (funnily replacing the current employee who helps you out, putting her out of a job). You serve as both a buyer (stocking the stores wares) and a shop girl (selling said wares to customers who wander in with requests).

Some terrible photos I took way back when of Customer Profiles. Left: “They fell in love through texting. Their breakup is imminent.” Right: “Her only weakness is crunchy, puffed-cheese snacks.” Why are these photos so bad? Well, at the time, I was prolly taking them with this phone.

Everything you buy at the mall-like wholesale place also appears in your personal closet, and you can get your hair done and what not with your earnings. Your funds are also used to interior decorate both your apartment and your boutique.

The outfit I’m wearing is from the ultra expensive luxury brand

There are also periodic Runway Contests where you enter an outfit that best exemplifies a certain fashion theme, such as Pop or Girly (basically otome-kei). Winning a sequence of these effectively “ends” the game’s story, but like most simulation titles, you can keep playing indefinitely.

Probably the final contest where I ‘won’ the game.

The big plus to Trendsetters was male NPCs. In a lot of fashion games, men simply don’t exist. But in Trendsetters, not only were there multiple fellas, but you could stock menswear as well as women’s clothing, and help male customers at your boutique. What you could NOT do, however, was build any sort of relationship with them. This is in contrast to girl NPCs, who sometimes would invite you out to some sort of event, complete with photo op of course.

Just gals being pals

I wasn’t the only one greatly disappointed by the lack of dating – there was eventually a patch released that allowed you to dream about going on a date with one of the male NPCs you had built up some hidden relationship bar with. (Yeah, I’m guessing that was the easiest way to implement it.) But this patch was only released for the Japanese version.

Sophie: It's OK to have a crush on someone, Callie!
Juliana: How can I make him love me? I guess it would be easier if he was real and not just a toy...

But you can only go on real life dates with girls. (Also, these are all shots from Fashion Forward, not Trendsetters)

To make matters worse, in the follow-up, Fashion Forward, men do exist…but not really in the same way they did in Trendsetters. You also can’t stock and sell menswear. Weirdly, if you ‘finish’ the game (again, by basically winning the hardest Fashion Contest), you unlock a …Dev Mode? where you can go in and change all the male NPCs outfits. And the clothes available to you? That’s right, all the menswear from the earlier game.

Rahil: Oh, I don't want to try it out. It's a present, you see.

Local coward buying makeup for a ‘friend’ in Fashion Forward

But enough about that. As I get ready to play Styling Star, I’m here to tell you about the most bonkers thing about the Style Savvy series, and why I’m very interested to see what the heck Styling Star, and now Fashion Dreamer, are gonna do story-wise.

It’s Dollhouses All the Way Down

Style Savvy: Fashion Forward is a paranormal isekai. No, I’m not joking. My memory of the exactitudes of the main story isn’t perfect, but I assure you, everything important is accurate. I couldn’t NOT remember.

Ricky: I've been waiting for you, Kelp

Unlike Trendsetters, the game opens with you receiving a dollhouse that belonged to your grandmother. I think you also receive some sort of key that goes along with it. Anyways, you then meet a tiny girl?? who tells you hey, your grandma was friends with my grandma! And you subsequently get sucked into an alternate dimension that just so happens to be a trendy fashion district. The first girl works at a clothing boutique where she wants you to help out, and so you meet the owner, and a photographer, et cetera, and basically end up taking over the business. Unlike Trendsetters, you don’t just manage a clothing store – you also become a hair stylist, nail artist, even a make-up artist and fashion designer. I get they wanted to expand the content, but it was a little weird how we suddenly were working at like, four different shops.

Some sweet lolitas- I’m sorry, ‘baby doll’ fashion enthusiasts waiting to be helped at the makeup boutique. (Yes, I don’t get how they decided lolita Bad, baby doll Good either…in Trendsetters I think it was princess, which is much better?)

Bronwyn: I'm hoping for a hairstyle that has a similar vibe to my clothes.
Juliana: Then, someone called Kelp will do your make-up just like the photo!

Left: customer waiting for you to do her hair. Right: some fool who doesn’t know who I am.

As if this wasn’t weird enough, what was absolutely mind-blowing was the introduction of a local vacant building, owned by hotshot and local real estate mogul Ricky, a surrogate older brother(?) of the first girl you meet. Oh, btw, there’s a storyline where his older sister ends up getting married. Along with the Fashion Contests.

Left: Me winning the final Fashion Contest… I think. Right: The wedding that serves as the ‘end’ of the main storyline.

Back to the vacant building.

Ricky: I don't believe in mysterious powers. The rooms here are clearly just coincidence.

See, there’s yet another dollhouse in the attic of this building, that’s a replica of the building itself. You following me still? And you can buy (very expensive) miniature furniture to put in that dollhouse.

Yeah that IKEA mirror didn’t cost nearly that much IRL

And once you do, the corresponding rooms in the building will suddenly have corresponding life-size furnishings. (Ricky lets you rent these rooms to NPCs as either vacation rentals or business stalls for extra personal income. If you’re thinking “That’s weirdly generous of him”, there’s strong evidence he has a thing for the player character.)

Ricky and player character at expensive restaurant table
"Back then, I had no interest at all in things like clothes or appearance."

Is this a dollhouse dimension date? (I made sure to wear some Expensive Shit just in case.)

So, once you win the last fashion contest and Ricky’s sister gets married…nothing happens. I don’t remember there being any subsequent mention of the fact you have suddenly Disappeared into the Dollhouse Dimension.

Magda (in a witchy gothy outfit): Do you wish to know the unknowable?

Yeah, why the hell was this an isekai, Magda?! (She’s a quirky psychic btw. Cuz of course.)

When I was doing research for this post, there was even more content in Fashion Forward that slipped my mind – the fact you can design clothes for sort of a cosplay?? brand?

Eliza, in a red swashbuckling outfit: Where be me buried treasure?!
Eliza, in a ninja?? outfit: Ninjas are so much cooler than pirates, anyway! There's no way I won't get the part!

Aspiring actor Eliza often dresses in outfits from said brand

You can also do modeling jobs through your photographer friend…or chat with the NPC that is obsessed with colors, and has a whole Pantone shade unlocking deal based on…I forget. Showing her photos you take, I think?

A date at the flower fields with Rainbow, who helps you unlock more colors for custom designs

Anyways, I could go on about all the bizarre interactions you have in Fashion Forward in addition to, you know, the whole “a tiny girl in a dollhouse sucked you into a very fashionable urban neighborhood” but I’m on a deadline. I look forward to playing Styling Star and Fashion Dreamer (and of course, writing subsequent blog posts on them).

Bella: Do you like cats too, Kelp?
Bella: Right?! Cats are the greatest! I just want to cuddle them all!

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