If you've ever dreamt of running your own chic clothing store - or better yet, a chain of them across the country - Fashion Boutique will certainly give you a taste of the work (and rewards) for managing such a retail endeavor.
Gamezebo has spent some considerable time in the stylish shoes of Maya, who stars in this upcoming time management game, as she multitasks like mad to keep customers happy, turn a profit for the stores and pays for upgrades to attract new customers.
The comic book storyline begins as Maya is called in to meet with her boss, and he commends her on a job well done at the office. But he thinks she ready to stretch her legs and run the company's Chicago clothing store and puts her to work right away.
Like many time management games, such as the popular Diner Dash series, you must take care of a seemingly endless swarm of customers so that you can make your daily cash quota. In Fashion Boutique, this is performed by clicking on new customers and dragging them to the part of the store they're interested in (as indicated by a speech bubble over their head, showing a blouse, pants, tie, and so on). You'll see a picture of Maya's head when they want some assistance, so you click on them to see which article of clothing they'd like to purchase. Now you must click on your coworker, who will go to the backroom and return with the pieces of clothing and you must give them to the waiting customers.
As with other time management games, you're encouraged to chain the same actions together for additional points, such as giving articles of clothing to three people in a row. Some customers will want to try on the clothes before purchasing them, so you'll drag and drop them into the change room, while others will request to pay right away. To help with the sale, Maya can flirt with male customers (or compliment female ones) and try to up-sell clothes by suggesting another item upon checkout. Pick up clothes on the floor to keep the place tidy and give some candies to your patrons to keep them happy.
So long as you reach your minimum sales number each day you graduate to the next day and inch your way towards the weekend. Speaking of which, you can actually change your comic story by selecting a specific path to happiness, such as personal fulfillment or putting your career as top priority. This is achieved by selecting which weekend activity you're interested in, which could give you additional points in four areas: charisma, stamina, sales ability and mood. Going out for a business dinner, for example, will help in your sales ability and stamina, opposed to staying in to order Chinese food alone on Saturday night, which will help with your mood and stamina, but not sales ability or charisma. This will help give the game some customization and replayability.
As you progress through the 10 stages of Chicago - and eventually work your way to Atlanta, New York, Miami and Houston (and perhaps a secret sixth level, ahem) - you'll earn store upgrades (such as longer counters and bigger sections to serve more customers simultaneously), unlock new outfits and accessories for Maya to wear (which you can change at any time) and make way for a dozen different customer types, each with their own unique personalities; middle-aged women, for instance, are moderately patient, enjoy pricey items and like flattery, but they take longer in the change room making up their mind!
Fashion Boutique also features two mini-games to unlock and play at anytime from the main menu. One challenges you to memorize what Maya is wearing and you must then pick from a rack of clothing and dress her the same way by memory. The second is a kind of hidden-object game, which you can unlock when the player finishes 50 stages.
• Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista
• DirectX 8
• 500 MHz
• 128 MB RAM