Challenging mix of time management and hidden object elements in the glamorous world of Hollywood
Developer Sandlot Games tries an interesting spin-off of its Cake Mania franchise Fashion Forward. Risha, one of Jill’s best friends and already quite an important part of Cake Mania: Lights, Camera, Action, moves to L.A. but is discouraged to find that there are literally no shops with normally sized clothes. She then immediately decides to open a new glitzy fashion boutique that caters to all shapes and sizes.
Fashion Forward features 60 levels that play pretty similar to Risha’s segment in Cake Mania: Lights, Camera, Action or the Shop-N-Spree series. Furthermore there are also two pretty basic mini-games which you can choose to play or not to play for a little bonus money. The game also features relaxed and timed mode as well as various trophies, both of which are pretty much a standard for this genre by now.
The game can be easily described as a hybrid of time management and hidden object game, something that is not absolutely new anymore but still feels fresh and challenging compared to other run-of-the-mill mechanics. Varying types of customers will enter the store and tell you what they want by either pictures or words. Your task is to deliver as many correct clothes as possible very quickly and to then collect the payment.
While this sounds very easy and repetitive, Fashion Forward definitely does its best to include as many interesting bonuses and features as it can to spice things up a little. Firstly there are a lot of additional clothing lines that can be purchased for both male and female customers. These increase the prices in store and have very funny descriptions attached to them, displaying once again the humor we are already used to from this developer. Other upgrades include shop items that increase customers patience and tips such as flowers, lights, or a TV.
Fashion Forward also features a lot of different and quirky customer types, which are equally entertaining but less frustrating than those in the Cake Mania titles. The older lady, for example, will accept any clothes you give to her, the musician will increase the patience of other customers if she is really happy, and the zombie will transform other customers into zombies if it has to wait too long to name just a few. Those customer types are the main reason for why the game is so challenging and entertaining, and because it is easier to collect some clothes than to create sophisticated cakes, sudden changes of orders are less frustrating in this game.
Additionally Fashion Forward introduces smart bonus mechanics that force the player to think while delivering clothes – you will earn more money for clicking red tags on special days, wrapping clothes for your customers as gifts, delivering three correct clothes at once, chaining the orders of two customers without interruption or serving a customer the moment before he or she wants to leave angrily. Thus you should definitely not be fooled by the first couple of levels which are surprisingly easy for a Sandlot Games title. The pace of Fashion Forward speeds up very quickly, and though it never gets frustratingly hard it will give even veterans a run for the money.
What we did not like that much about Fashion Forward were the frequent loading times and the generally jumpy playing experience even on a newer system. It’s not a factor that notably diminishes the playing fun, but a smoother run would have definitely increased the quality of the game. Furthermore we were a little disappointed in the length of the game and the minor differences between locations. Experienced players will have no problem to finish the game within three hours, and the shop nearly looks the same each and every day except for new clothes and a slightly varying layout.
Those few grumblings aside though, Fashion Forward is a very entertaining and funny game that is undoubtedly worth the money. If you have enjoyed previous titles that mixed elements from time management and hidden object games this new release from Sandlot Games will definitely convince you with its quirky customers, polished graphics, lots of upgrades and clothing lines to purchase and the challenging task to complete each day with the highest possible score. Give it a try and see if you have got what it takes to make it in Hollywood.