Part of the fun of retrogaming is in thinking of new ways to keep old games alive so that they’re not forgotten. I’ve long wanted to pay homage to Pop Cutie! Street Fashion Simulation, a vastly underrated Harajuku-inspired fashion management sim released by Koei for the Nintendo DS in 2008.
Pop Cutie! does share some similarity with another DS fashion management sim that you might have heard of, the acclaimed Style Savvy, though it differs in a few key ways. Visually, the games are rather different: Pop Cutie!‘s visuals are comprised of well-crafted, cute pixel art and a persistent isometric view. The player’s shop has a blocky, almost LEGO-like appearance. The fashion sense of Pop Cutie! is a bit wackier than that of Style Savvy, including outfits and accessories such as “Penguin Suit,” “Beak,” and “Furball.” Finally, Pop Cutie! provides notable challenge compared to Style Savvy. The pace of the game is incredibly fast, meaning that you’ll have to catch fickle customers, passers-by, trends, and competitors in the blink of an eye. And unlike Style Savvy‘s nearly impossible-to-lose fashion contests, Pop Cutie!‘s fashion battles can be rather difficult, and you may find yourself repeating them again and again.
One thing that makes Pop Cutie! a particular standout among fashion games is that “boy” and “girl” fashions appear in equal quantities but are allowed on any player, regardless of gender. You can outfit any character with a beard or a miniskirt or both with no warning or penalty. And in fact, in-game NPCs will dress themselves in very fluid ways, as their only concern is with what items are at the height of fashion, not gender norms. For players who have felt boxed in by the strict gender rules of other fashion games, Pop Cutie! is refreshingly different.
Today, I was struck with an idea on how to share the amazingness of this sorely underloved retrogame: I created @popcutietxt, a twitter bot that tweets commentary, questions, and advice about fashion pulled straight from the game.
I think it’d be fun to look like a Monkey.
— popcutie.txt (@popcutietxt) June 24, 2015