City Style: A Pink Infused Hidden Object Game

Rating:

4.5 out of 5

Available for: Windows xp/vista/7

city style game

Fill the shoes of the budding assistant editor-in-chief Camilla and straighten out the problems your predecessor left behind in City Style, a new hidden object game made for those with an eye for fashion. To get to the top, you will have to organize materials, clean up spaces and improve the operations of the City Style magazine. While the challenges are mostly made up of hidden object segments, there is a wide array of puzzles in the game. To name a few, you will be tasked with assembling magazine layouts, matching model photos according to their zodiac sign, and there are even a few 3D segments where you will need to drag, push and pull furniture into pre-determined slots.

How the Game Plays

The hidden object stages are sure to entertain you -well, for the most part anyway. By mixing up how the instructions are delivered, it is apparent that the game developers took great pains to integrate variety. For instance, not only will you need to find items based off a list, you will also encounter the usual "collect X number of purses". Instead of basing your item hunt off a list of word descriptions, you may be given a list with literal sketches to find, or even a picture reference to dress up your model with items strewn about the stage.

While the image references may make your trek to fame easier on the eyes, there is one tricky variant to watch out for. At some challenges, you will be required to scramble about the scene collecting items based on their shape. It is a novel concept for sure, but it can be quite frustrating. Getting one tiny mystery item whose shape resembles crumpled paper, a flattened fire hydrant or almost any round shaped thingamabob literally feels like looking for a needle in the haystack.

Variety is Always Fun

In between the hidden object challenges, there are several other mini games to complete throughout City Style. One such game involves matching items. It can be as easy as, for example, matching photos to their corresponding negatives or CDs to their cover layouts. It can also be the traditional flip type matching game wherein you are required to turn over the cards in order to, determine the zodiac sign of the models in order to pair them up (yes, zodiac compatibility of models is also a big deal, apparently, fashionistas appreciate new age religion). Another matching type mini game involves pairing up halves to form a whole item. Though jewelry is easily assembled, pairing up makeup with their caps may stump the unfamiliar.

Of course, aspiring to be the crème de la crème Assistant Editor-in-Chief involves being hands-on with the magazine layout -on a side note, it would have been nicer if the game had you gunning for the EIC title instead of being just the assistant. Anyway, the way these challenges work is that you are given puzzle pieces to literally assemble the text, photos and graphics on a page by dragging them to their correct position. To add some spice to the mini game, you may also be tasked to rotate the pieces to form your magazine's attention worthy mock up cover.

city fashion game

Find the difference games make a comeback in City Style, wherein you get to catch all the vertically striped fish swimming about Angela's beautiful aquarium. The graphics on this segment are crisp and colorful, giving a welcome rest from the overly prettied up visuals. Reminiscent of childhood puzzle books, there is also a static version of this game wherein you are given two images of the same scene and you are asked to pick out their differences. Admittedly, one particular segment of find the difference got some giggles out of us --picking out models from a group picture including a Superman-wannabe, a chunky football player and a cat burglar is unexpectedly amusing.

Lastly, another spin-off of the find the difference genre is a styling mini game which involves airbrushing a model to match a given look. While simple, it is a novel concept that shows City Style's versatility.

Not Quite a Cakewalk, But Close

The worst of all the challenges involves pushing items to their correct places. Due to the fact that there are no tutorials or explanation of this mini game's controls, it gets quite bothersome to figure out what you can and can't do. There are times when you will get stuck with no moves left, like for instance you push a chair into a corner with no way of pulling it back to place due to the lack of an undo feature. In this case, restarting the segment will be your only recourse. Believe us, you will do that several times during your first run through the game. Thankfully, this type of mini game can be skipped with no penalties (other than losing extra points of course).

Speaking of penalties -they are virtually non-existent in the game. There is no timer to constantly watch while going through stages. You can also go through a stage by wildly clicking across the frame if you wish as there are no consequences for this either. It does allow for a more relaxed pace, although it would not have hurt for a timed mode to exist for those who want to add a little spice.

If at any point you get stumped, a hint button is readily available for you to use. It refills quite quickly and does not run out at all. Depending on the mini game, it may come very handy. During hidden object segments, using the hint function will encircle one item you have not crossed off your search list. However, in case you get to the furniture segment, it provides little help as it does not give any indication on which item should be moved first, resulting in a frustrating trial and error solution.

Delivery

The main hidden object game, along with all the other mini games, is woven into the story in a believable fashion. You know there is a mini game just around the corner when Natalie asks for your help in cleaning up City Style's chaotic, paper littered office. Or when your demanding boss, Angela Style, tasks you to tidy up her Feng Shui inspired abode. While it is obvious that the writers tried to integrate the storyline smoothly, the plot is sadly lacking in originality. Treat it as a watered down version of "Devil Wears Prada" with grammar mistakes sprinkled here and there (such as "fish up the fish").

The graphics on the other hand are superb. While it may not be for everyone (certainly not for guys), the visuals are vivid and photorealistic. Instead of hand drawn scenes, it is a welcome change to search for images of real objects. The color scheme further emphasizes who the target audience is -namely, teenage girls who just love dressing up, judging from the dominantly pink menus. Women in general may appreciate the realistic depiction of accessories and makeup, if they can get past the pink infused interface.

The game's sound effects and background tunes combine to give City Style a fashion vibe. The music is sophisticated and well chosen, with no cheesy tunes to offend your ears. The clips are even on point when it comes to object hovering and clicking, which shows the game's thoughtful approach to sound design.

With its numerous types of mini games, there is no doubt that the game has plenty to offer, however, there are also a handful of issues that prevent City Style from emerging front and center. As mentioned above, there is almost no tutorial at all. Sure, you can choose to learn the basics through the main menu but all it does it to explain how a hidden object game works. Sadly, there is not even an introduction to the controls for the mini game segments, giving you no initial idea on how to accomplish its given objectives.

Do not expect to understand how you are rated either because there is a lack of information as to what actions give you the most points. City Style lacks provisions for this so you will not see a breakdown of your performance at the end of each stage. While testing the game, we were surprised to be given around 18,000 points on a single round until we found out that the game counts up your final time. On the other hand, there is really no incentive to get the highest possible points because the game proceeds as long as you complete the objective.

The Verdict

City Style manages to be quite lengthy and you will probably have to spend two afternoons on it in order to finish it at a relaxed pace. With a total of 20 stages serving as an umbrella to several mini games each, there is plenty to explore as City Style's new Assistant Editor-in-Chief. The real question is: does the design aesthetic appeal to you? Of course, guys are not the main audience for this genre. Younger girls will probably appreciate dazzling high fashion images while women in general who also happen to be hidden object game players may just stick around for the challenge variety. Overall City Style leans more towards being enjoyable than not, and it is certainly worth a try first. See for yourself if you can get past the overly prettied up atmosphere and its flawed tidbits -after all, even if your friends pass up on this title, it may end up to be a gem for you. We give this game a busy magazine writer's 4 1/2 out of 5 hearts.

Download for Windows