Moreso than any other industry, haute couture can be a brutal field – one week you’re in… literally the next, out. Case in point: Jojo’s Fashion Show 2, which, while building on its predecessor’s successful formula, fails to turn quite as many heads. Despite offering more of what casual gaming fans already know and love (clothes, styles, chic-themed challenges, etc.), the title feels more like a glorified expansion pack than proper sequel, even if longtime admirers will hardly be disappointed.
Having recaptured the limelight last season by coming out of retirement to stun the world of high style, star designer Jojo Cruz is back alongside her daughter Rosalind. Now, they’re making the rounds at Los Angeles, Berlin and other international hotspots’ Fashion Weeks to introduce new clothing collection Las Cruces – this time for men as well as women.
As such, returning players are assured (at least in theory) double the range of garments, styles and accessories to tinker with. Unfortunately, new photo shoot options aside, from the core campaign (Runway mode) to virtual dollhouse-type extras (Dress Up mode), what you really get here is mostly just more window dressing… not major game enhancements.
Still, as a quick recap reveals, it’s hard to fault the creators’ approach, which merely builds on a clever mechanic, if one that seemed much newer and fresher when first encountered in late 2007. To recap for newcomers: Aspiring fashionistas essentially find themselves facing several runway models, who must be decked out in clothes that best match the styles (African, Bollywood, Conversative, etc.) noted above each character’s head.
Doing so requires mixing and matching garments from a limited rack of options located at the bottom of each screen, with more points awarded the better you match underlying motifs before sending virtual heartthrobs onto the runway. Score high enough, and you’ll earn star rankings, with three stars minimum on a scale of one to five required to beat each scenario.
Challenge comes from having to make the best fits from a confined range of options in terms of tops, bottoms and shoes that match with given themes within tight timeframes. So while those Converse-style sneakers or leather pants might seem better-suited to “Hipster” or “Provocative” ensembles, sometimes, even if “Sockhop” (’50s/’60s duds) or “Foxhunt” (Victorian riding gear) are your only options, it’s necessary to roll with the punches.
And have to toughen up you will, as optional point-boosting wardrobe enhancers (think glasses, sashes, necklaces, bracelets, etc.) and clothes-shuffling/style-swapping power-ups aside, it’s not always easy to jive with the creators’ eye for design… Especially, that is, when some of the ugliest, seemingly most erroneous choices of attire for any given theme occasionally seem to garner the biggest windfalls.
Apart from interacting with a greater range of characters (including photographer Avett Price and Ms. Yue, editor of FWD magazine); enjoying a livelier audiovisual presentation featuring loads of speech samples; and adorning guys as well as gals though, changes to the underlying blueprint are few and far between. Even photo shoot segments – demanding you click to snap images of models whose clothes best match a given style – seem a canned and obvious extension of base play mechanics, requiring little difficulty and even less brainpower to beat.
Look deeper, and subtle enhancements (such as Show Climax or Double Time vignettes, which award score multipliers and halve the window in which you have to clothe models, respectively) do present themselves. But all in all, we can’t help but feel as if the developers simply churned out a quick, dirty, knee-jerk reaction type of follow-up to what was initially a brash and singular series.
That being said, will those who enjoyed the original and neophytes alike be entertained? Most certainly: This is one of the more intriguing time management titles out there, and the sort whose combo-chain-driven action and highly visual bent will keep enthusiasts hooked. Nonetheless, lacking the ability for gamers to create their own puzzles, customizable styles and/or one-of-a-kind challenges, the addition of a few token power-ups, plot twists, backdrops and collectible signature outfits does not another blockbuster make. Play and enjoy as you like, but here’s hoping next season’s collection boasts a more en vogue set of upgrades and features.