Inspired by the LEGO Clikits brand of snap-together jewelry, Chic Boutique lets players sell rings, bracelets, necklaces and other stuff in designer boutiques around the world using a combination of match-three gameplay and shop management features.
You’ll begin by creating a custom avatar, selecting various styles, colours and facial features to represent your entrepreneurial alter-ego. Then, you’ll choose where you want to launch your first boutique by selecting from a list of fashion hotspots including New York, Paris, Tokyo and London. As the game progresses, you’ll eventually be able to open boutiques in a total of ten different cities.
The game screen is divided into two important sections. In the match-three grid, you must create rows of three or more identical Clikit pieces by sliding grid rows horizontally or vertically with your mouse. Each match earns points towards achieving the level’s target goal before the shop closes for the day, and also goes into creating rings, necklaces and other items that add to your store’s inventory.
This is where the second part of the screen comes in, consisting of the boutique and its inventory window. Clicking on a particular inventory item will cause all the points you rack up in match-three play to go towards creating more of that particular item. Although your store initially only stocks rings, different kinds of items will gradually be added to the inventory until you’ll be jugging 16 of them at once, trying to make sure your production keeps up with customers’ demands. If you haven’t got what they want, they’ll go away unhappy, which isn’t good for business!
Each successfully completed level brings you one step closer to being able to open up a new boutique. However, the difficulty ramps up a little each time as the level completion points goal is pushed higher and higher, requiring you to think and move faster and faster.
The coolest part of Chic Boutique is being able to outfit your boutique with more than 100 different shop upgrades by spending the points you’ve earned creating and selling merchandise. Things like water coolers, sound systems, manikins, display cases and even plusher carpets all contribute to turning your barren little hole in the wall to a hip and trendy place that attracts customers by the bucketload – and from a purely materialistic perspective, having a space to decorate with trinkets is a fun diversion from the match-three challenge.
One gripe with the game has to do with the menu system for buying the boutique upgrades. Items are organized into menus; for example, “mirror” which, when clicked, opens into a submenu with more specific items, like “small mirror, medium mirror, or large mirror.” New items periodically become available throughout the course of the game, but this isn’t indicated anywhere in the menu. Instead, the player has to click through into each sub-menu to see what, if any, new merchandise has been unlocked. Some kind of notification when new merchandise becomes available (like “new couch unlocked!”) would have been welcome, instead of the player having to search all the sub-menus manually.
Other than that rather nitpicky complaint, however, Chic Boutique is a solid and accessible game for fans of the match-three style. The fact that the goal is on achieving a certain score instead of simply playing until there are no more moves left is an interesting twist that simultaneously gets rid of one kind of tension (the nail-biting question of “will this move be my last?”) and substitutes it for another (“oh no, I’m running out of time!”)
The Clikits theme targets girls directly, but the game should appeal to everyone. So even if pink LEGO bracelets aren’t your thing, consider giving Chic Boutique a try!