Don’t let the wave of fashion-style games that have come through the ocean of casual games affect your judgment of the latest fashion entry: Zen Fashion. Instead of a running a business style game play, it fashions a game of match three along with a journey through Asia’s world of fashion.
A new Japanese fashion designer explores various Asian cities for eight levels each to learn the intricacies of Japanese design. Match at least three of the same flowers to help the young designer gain experience beginning with her basic designs and advancing to beautiful and detailed designs.
Create matches up/down, left/right, and diagonally. While that sounds too easy, believe me… it’s not after you advance enough levels. The barriers narrow the matching possibilities, lengthening your chances of getting through the level. To complete a level requires clearing all the colored squares with a time limit. As expected of most matching games, later levels have squares that take two, three, or more matches to clear.
Since the game keeps players too busy to notice the shrinking time on the hourglass, it warns players when 30 seconds remain. The game issues another warning at 20 seconds and then counts down from 10. This feature has proven valuable, but it might help to have a warning a little sooner and then another at 20. The countdown just makes a gal panic and give up unless only one piece remains.
Upon completing a level, players pick what new article of clothing to add to their collection. The item comes with two power ups. Zen Fashion comes with six power ups, and although the game introduces each one — players may need to review instructions later when they start needing them. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t come with a Help file. Some like the clock are obvious and others like the “Eye for Fashion” are not. Time and practice will help players discover what each power up does.
Designing 108 new pieces — in the form of making many matches — takes a lot out of a new designer, so take a Zen break and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. A Zen break pauses the game, clears all of the game’s elements, and displays nothing but the serene scene representing the current level’s city. Click anytime to return to the game.
The coolest part of the game is that players can change up the hair style, blouse, and bottoms for hundreds of outfit possibilities. Remember each one comes with two power ups, so coordinate with style and power up in mind. By the way, our designer earns new fashion — real ones based on the styles from the 12 countries albeit with some updates. I’ve never liked playing dress up as a little kid and enjoyed changing the designer’s outfits as she wears them for the upcoming level.
The flowers on the grid change very little — just color variations. Since the backgrounds change with each new city, it would be nice to see the objects also change for variety. The game comes with Adventure mode and Zen mode, which is like adventure without the clock and story. Adventure mode unlocks levels for Zen mode, so you can only play Zen mode as far as you have in timed mode.
Why play Zen mode when you’ve already conquered the level in timed mode? To earn trophies (24 in all) you might not otherwise win in timed mode and to experiment with different styles without the pressure of picking the right power ups or to experiment with power ups so you can finally move on to the next level in timed mode.
The sound effects electrify especially when special pieces come into play and set off some serious action on the grid. If Zen Fashion could walk on the runway in Paris, it would dazzle the fashion industry with its great looks, sharp cut, and new twists. It’ll make a worthy addition to the casual gamer’s wardrobe of games without the high price tag that comes with designer gowns.