Remember that toy where you used a magnetic wand to move iron filings over a design of a man’s head, creating hair, mustaches and eyebrows? My Style Studio: Hair Salon looks a bit like this, except with less personality and zest for life.
The hair salon gives you more options in some ways. As soon as you start the game, there are five “clients” to choose from which offer a selection of different hair types and styles to play with. I say “clients” in the broad sense because they only serve as slightly interactive mannequin heads. They have no demand; no reason given why they are in one of the five very varied rooms in your living room. Only the movement of their eyes and lips over their still head gives a clue that they know you are interacting with them. Can they see what you are doing to their hair? Can they hear the same bouncy melody that is used throughout the game but which can thankfully be turned off once it gets boring? Only they will ever know.
“Interacting” with a client mainly means choosing one of 13 different styling equipment or products and attacking their hair with it. There is no attempt to copy actual movements; each action is performed by pressing or holding the stylus on the touchscreen, with the top screen remaining completely unused. Although uninspired, the setup is quite acceptable for broader actions such as shampooing or brushing. If you want to jump into a great stylista and engage in precision work with scissors or hair color, the option just isn’t there. Here, no thinning hair or elaborate color designs; the hair does not seem detailed enough to accept such treatments even if you could provide them.
You can use a selection of bows, clips, hats, and other items to accessorize a client’s hairstyle (or their face, or the area around them). When all is set, a digital snapshot of the finished product can be taken to be shared with friends or posted as a stern example of what you are capable of doing to anyone you see.
There really isn’t much to say about My Style Studio: Hair Salon as there simply isn’t much to consider. Its stripped-down simplicity and lack of purpose make it seem suited to a young audience looking for virtual doll heads to have fun with, and there can be fun for them for a while. But the options are too few, the interactivity too low, and the overall feel of the game too dull (and somewhat scary) that having a real doll seems like a better option.