Based on the 1990s movie and TV show spin-off of the same name, Clueless follows the exploits of a group of ditzy and materialistic Beverly Hills high school girls as they shop for the perfect outfits to attract boys. At the start I was less than impressed with the game’s stereotyping, until I realized that the game is in on the joke too, and the girls’ over-the-top shallowness is meant to poke fun at the "valley girl" image – which Clueless does with often humorous results.
Cher lives in Beverly Hills with her father, a prominent lawyer who chides her for having no direction in life. Cher responds by saying that she’s dedicated to helping her friends find the perfect outfits at the mall to find a man. And that’s what Cher does throughout Clueless, whose gameplay is all about selecting the right tops and dresses, bottoms, shoes and accessories to create hot looks.
Gameplay takes place at a variety of Beverly Hills malls, where you’ll have to create 12 outfits based on given styles, such as beachwear, corporate, ’90s hip hop, nature girl (hippie), military chic and Asian. Four clothing possibilities for each category will appear around the set of three models, and it’s up to you to drag what you think is the most appropriate choice onto them to dress them in that style, such as tank tops and sandals for the beach, knee-length skirts, pantsuits and conservative clothes for the corporate style; and denim, big buckles and plaid for the rodeo.
When you’re satisfied with the outfit, you’ll hit the Go button and be rated on your choices with a letter grade of A through F. You can click a "pose" button to make your model chance her pose, which doesn’t net any bonus points but is a fun extra to admire your handiwork from all angles. Don’t ogle for too long, though, because each girl has a timer that will eventually run out if you take too long to dress her.
In addition to matching the correct style, you can earn extra points for dressing the girls in a way that her potential love interest finds attractive. (One boy, for example, likes bold colors, short cut bottoms and detailed patterns.)
You’ll need to score a C average on all 12 outfits to avoid the dreaded "fashion victim" status and move on to the next mall. Through voice clips, the girls offer feedback on your choices. Expect to hear "Drop dead cool!" if you select something that goes well with the ensemble, or "Ewww, fashion roadkill!" if you pick a dud. You’ll also get fashion tips throughout each level, like "Long sleeve tops and mid-length skirts are modest and conservative, but still chic."
A handful of power-ups help you along, such as shuffling the clothing or recharging the girls’ patience meters.
On the positive side, with 80 levels and 12 outfits to create per level, the game is certainly lengthy. The clothing is generally pretty cool, and you can create some attractive outfits with it. Once you’ve used the clothing on a model once, you unlock it in the Concave Photo Shoot, a special area access from the map screen where you can dress up a model any way you like, and take a snapshot that gets saved to your PC’s desktop.
My main issue with Clueless is that it’s simply not very challenging. It’s rare to get graded anything less than a C, even if you slap together an outfit completely at random. The memory game that pops up every five levels, which involves recreating an outfit you were shown seconds before, is pretty throwaway, and the main gameplay gets repetitive in spite of new styles that get introduced.
As well, the dialogue between levels is hit and miss. The plot consists of a loosely-connected series of sitcom-type dilemmas: the girls mastermind a romance between two of their teachers, try to make over a dumpy friend, and both battle for the attentions of the same boy, for example. Often it can be funny, such as when Cher explains that she and her best friend Dionne were "both named after famous singers who now do infomercials." If all of the dialogue snippets were like this, players would have more of a reason to slog through the plentiful levels. Often, though, the dialogue reverts to generic fashion advice, throwaway comments about going to the mall or finding the next outfit, or conversations between characters that don’t lead anywhere.
If you’re looking for something that isn’t too challenging, and you enjoy shopping and fashion, Clueless is a decent enough choice. Its shallow gameplay and lack of a satisfying story arc or difficulty curve might frustrate more serious players, though.