Overall Score 70%
Fashion Cents Deluxe
The computer game market, both indie and commercial, is largely male. Theories about this are numerous. Yet there is a female market out there, and some brave developers target this niche - hence the game up for review this week, Fashion Cents Deluxe. That said, here at Bytten we are even more male-biased than the market at large, given that we are entirely male. For the purpose of this review, I am currently pretending I am a woman (which is relatively less hard a leap for me than my colleagues, given my chocoholic tendencies and my five years of living in the gender-confusing metropolis of Brighton).
Fashion Cents Deluxe is best described as a cross between a typical casual puzzle game and those "paper dolls" that you can dress in different outfits. Your task is simple - to create matching outfits of hat, top, bottoms and shoes (with bonus points for accessories like bags) on a set of ten identically posed young ladies. A number of random clothings items appear one at a time and you need to decide where to put each one. As you cannot remove items when placed on the girls, the aim is to complete outfits without running out of ladies to put new ones on. If you create colour clashes, the girls will object most strongly. A limited shelf space is available to store currently unwanted items. If you run out of shelf space and cannot place the next randomly selected article, it's game over.
FCD features a range of clothing items and a riot of colours. Three difficulty modes vary the number of colours in play (the first level of Easy mode only features about three colours) and the range of clothing colours and special items increases as you level up. Black, white and denim items are wildcards, and can be used with any other colours. If you use a clothing item with two colours you can add items of either colour to that model. Special items also feature, such as bleach, scissors and credit cards (the manual invites players to experiment with these, so I won't spoil them).
Graphics are cartoon in style, the intention being clarity and fun rather than photorealism. Animation is limited (such as the clothes "flying" off the models and into the shopping bag on the left hand bar). More bizarre is that, despite a range of skin tones and hair colours, all the models look remarkably similar. One supposes this makes a kind of sense, given that the clothes one puts on them need to fit any of them!
Sound features a repeating music track (rather upbeat and fun but a little annoying after the twentieth loop), a variety of clothing and shopping sounds (kerching!) and the voices of the girls themselves. "Are you ready to go shopping?" Try putting a non-matching outfit together and hear them go "Like, eeeuuuww!" This is amusing at first but grows tiresome on later levels - pink, purple and beige can look rather similar so mistakes are possible if you don't look closely. All three of these sound items (voices, music and sounds) can be individually adjusted or muted.
This is a very easy game to pick up, with everything played by mouse (keyboard entry is only used for setting up player profiles). Drag and drop clothing onto the girls to fit clothing items - there's a reasonably forgiving pick up and drop zone for such items but shoes in particular can occasionally be awkward. The difficulty is deceptive - on easier levels it is hard to go wrong, but when you're up to eight colours of clothing you need to plan ahead quite carefully and keep those wildcard items on the shelf until needed.
While fun and unusual, Fashion Cents Deluxe is not a particularly deep game. Apart from the increase in difficulty and the appearance of new items (both clothing and special) there isn't a vast amount to keep you coming back. There isn't even a time limit - you have as long as you want to think about your next placement. Indeed, I left it alone to sort something else out at one point and a voice called out "are you still here?" - to my astonishment! While a time limit may not suit everyone it would make a neat option for the player.
This lack of variety is compounded by the repetitive speech and the single music track. You simply cannot play Fashion Cents Deluxe for prolonged periods without wanting to slap those girls, who speak like the hammiest actresses from The O.C.! (I think (hope!) that this is intended!) Fortunately the game remembers which level you got to should you quit back to the main menu, and you can continue later on. A game to occupy a few minutes here and there, and certainly to keep any young girls in the family occupied for a while, FCD deserves praise for trying something different.
Keywords: fashion cents deluxe review, my game company reviews, my game company games, fashion cents deluxe scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.