Halloween is still far away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a costume party. Reflexive Entertainment’s Costume Chaos is a fun and fast-paced time management game that has you dressing up your customers in all kinds of outrageous outfits. It’s got a few new twists to add to the genre, too.

The game starts in Hawaii, with shop-assistant Cleo just itching to explore the world. She needs money to do this, obviously, so she decides to work in her Mother’s costume shop. From there, she travels to nine different costume shop locations, working her way from Hawaii to Texas, England,  Transylvania, Dubai, India, the Caribbean, New Orleans, and Hollywood.  

To play, you click and hold the mouse button on a customer to pick her up, and move her to the station in the thought bubble over her head. Then, click her again to send Cleo to help. There are a bunch of different stations in the game, each with their own mini-games, kind of like Sally’s Salon.  

In the costume station,  you use the mouse to hover the different costumes until you find one that makes the customer smile. Similarly, in the hair style station, you scroll through a bunch of styles until the customer smiles at the proper selection. The face/accessories station has you placing various items in their proper places on a character’s head, like hats and make up and jewelry. The fitting station has you measuring customers by dragging the mouse along the arrows, and the alterations station has you snipping material by clicking the mouse over the dashed line.   

As a new twist, in the corner of the screen is a small match 3 game, which runs as you play. The idea is that this is a recycling bin, where customer returns are kept. Clicking on matches of three of a kind removes them from the screen.  If you allow the recycling bin to fill up completely, you won’t be able to dress any customers until it’s emptied. Sometimes coins and power ups fall into the bin, so you can click to earn them. You earn extra cash by emptying the bin completely. This is a great addition to the game, since it keeps you busy while Cleo is helping customers.  

Each of the nine locations has it’s own theme, like “pirates” in the Caribbean, and “the Renaissance” in England.  These themes are generally (but not always) shown in the costume selection, so there’s a bit of variety. Mostly, however, the layout stays the same in each place.  

As you earn cash, you can buy upgrades to make your job easier and quicker. You can also hire assistants, and place them at different stations too, so you get a break if you’re tired of a specific task. This is a nice touch.  

As a pointless but cute side game, you can dress up the models in the shop window. You unlock different outfits and accessories as you play.

There are two game play modes – kids and standard.  In kids mode, you can never lose, there are no revenue requirements, and customers never lose patience. There’s really no need for most adults to play in kid’s mode, but it’s a nice choice if you want to make it a family game.  

You have the ability to earn expert scores, and even beyond, which increases the replay value of the game. The length is standard, lasting 3-4 hours, without counting replays. The graphics and music are good, and the story and premise are simple, yet enjoyable.

There aren’t too many weak spots, since the game runs pretty smoothly. It does get a bit hectic, but that’s part of the fun of time management games. I found the alteration station a bit boring, since you just snip fabric, but luckily you can use your assistants to do the tasks you don’t want to bother with  – hey, just like in real life.  

If you loved Sally’s Salon or Leeloo’s Talent Agency, and enjoy fast paced time management games in general, then Costume Chaos is a good one to try.