If you’re a fan of popular television shows like Project Runway or just can’t seem to walk the mall without stopping to browse every last high-end boutique, prepare to be stunned. Jojo’s Fashion Show is a leading contender for America’s next top model – in terms of female-friendly casual games, that is. A clever take on the typical time management formula, the title challenges would-be runway divas to put their eye for style, color and coordination to the test.
In Runway mode, a story-driven solo campaign, players start by taking on the role of Jojo Cruz, the so-called “Mistress of Mix,” a fashion designer renowned for her eye for matching disparate styles. Despite her prior success, she’s been away from the public spotlight for some time now and just come out of retirement at the behest of daughter Rosalind. Together, you’ll attempt to hit it big once again, and unseat former assistant turned industry superstar Claudio Maximiro by proving you’ve got more fashion sense in your pinky than the cocky scamp does his entire head. OK, so the story isn’t epic stuff, but the torch-passing tale does provide incentive enough for putting your sartorial skills to the test.
Also available as well: A cute little Dress Up mode that lets you choose models’ facial features, hair and skin tones; clothe them in any accessories, goodies or gear unlocked by playing through the adventure; and then take collectible pictures on-demand. Mostly added for the sake of curious tinkers, it’s less an actual game variant than value-adding desktop toy, ensuring you’ll want to spend the most time playing with the former option. So how exactly does play work? The short answer: Quite innovatively, to say the least.
Each stage consists of a show taking place at various Fashion Weeks spread across global locales such as London, Sydney, Milan, New York, Tokyo and Paris. The top of the screen depicts the catwalk, and just below it is the backstage area, which takes up most of your monitor. There, you’ll see several things – chief among them gorgeous models, who appear with random styles (e.g. Western, Modest, Bridal or Futuristic) highlighted above their heads. To the left, a display shows how many models total remain that still have yet to strut their stuff. To the right wait any accessories like bracelets or handbags that are available. And below lurks the best part of all – specifically, all the cool clothes you’ll be able to deck the girls out in.
Winning each stage requires scoring three or more out of five stars from the judges. To do this, you’ll simply have to mix and match tops, pants, skirts, shoes, boas, sunglasses and other pieces that fit each model’s chosen motif. Once done – assuming you manage to create complete outfits before time runs out and models are unceremoniously shoved on stage, fully dressed or no – you’ll send each girl out and wait with bated breath to see how she performs. As they sashay for the camera, photograph-like pop-ups (presented amidst the sound of flashing bulbs) reveal how many points you’ve scored. And the better the individual pieces you’ve chosen fit the girl’s highlighted theme, and go together, the more positive results you’ll rack up. In short, you’re essentially playing one big, if strikingly chic, guessing game.
Once you’ve invested enough time into the game, however, you’ll begin to uncover the layers of game play. Much of the strategic planning is up to you, i.e. deciding whether to go with open-toed shoes or sneakers to fit that breezy summer look; choose flower-covered pants or shorts to get all hippie with it; or cop raggedy jeans or a sheer miniskirt to complement a rock-n-roll swagger. The hangers containing one’s inventory don’t always contain perfect fits for each concept either, meaning you’ll want to use power-ups earned through the use of eye-catching pairings (capable of instantly dressing models in high-scoring outfits, letting you know what items go together or shuffling the available clothes selection) liberally. It also pays to keep an eye on the signature outfits box, which award bonuses when you reproduce highlighted ensembles.
What’s more, to beat some levels, would-be trendsetters will have to rely heavily on score-magnifying “style chains,” produced by sending several models successfully dressed in the same manner out for evaluation in a row. But really, the biggest challenge is just dealing with when you’re handed a random selection of accessories that doesn’t match with any model’s style. And, of course, you have to react almost automatically to rectify the situation under tight time constraints.
The action’s only further complemented by a cool, paper doll-like aesthetic that adds instant charisma. Spacey techno beats occasionally interspersed with robotic pronunciations of simple words like “work” or “pleasure” also provide authentically snooty ambience. But they’re just a couple fun touches among many you’ll note that have been added here to give the title the same atmosphere as any other facet of haute couture.
Jojo’s Fashion Show is so very “in,” but in a few ways it’s “out.” Because of the random nature of the wardrobe, the game falls prey to inevitable repetition, which after a few hours may lead you into a mind-numbing groove. Though “Dress Up” mode offers a fun diversion, it’s more a break in game play than an actual play variant on its own.
Keeping this all in mind, even if you can barely seem to find a scarf that matches your coat before rushing out the door most mornings, you’ll find much to enjoy with this innovative fashionable foray. An engaging take on one of today’s most celebrated facets of pop culture, Jojo’s Fashion Show will have you kicking up your high heels – Manolo Blahniks, no doubt – in glee.