Tots ‘N’ Togs (PC)

By Xi Lin

Published on Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Graphics: 9.00
Sound: 7.00
Gameplay: 8.00
Replays: 5.00

Here comes a game that can be relentless to new players, but will have you hooked once you get the hang of things. Premise for this game is simple, run your own clothing shop. Much easier said than done, you’ll spend hours opening up several shops (AKA save states) before you run a shop that does not go bankrupt within a week. This is where the frustration comes in. The game offers tutorials and helpful tips, but that doesn’t stop the AI from relentlessly pelting you with catastrophe (seemingly right when you’re flat broke too) until you crumple.

When you first open up shop, you’re able to pick nine items from the warehouse and offer them to your customers. It’s up to you to figure out what items certain customers like. There are charts and guides that give you your best sellers list. There is a chart where you must decide how much you want to invest in research (I recommend 70 in the marketing war slide). Customers include the housewives, old grandmas, the boys and girls, and other general people you’d meet at a mall. There are the occasional “Weird Customers” (bums, naked people, and dogs) that will come in and either wreck the store or scare off customers.

As (if) your store progresses, upgrades like dressing rooms, bigger cash registers cut down on waiting times. While security systems help cut down on crime. Every once in awhile, you’ll need to hire people to clear out the moths or repair a broken fixture. When the cash flow is steady, make sure you have a janitor and another apprentice to keep the store clean and better help the customers.

If you’ve been patient or you’ve read some helpful tips online (guilty), you’d get the hang of running a shop in Tots ‘N’ Togs and the dough will start to roll. The game’s length lies in the fact that it’s hard to get started. After the shop is situated, upgrades come fast. With that, so do new customers and eventually there is nothing to do but watch the cash add up. I effectively beat the game in three hours. Sure, you can keep going, but all you do is watch the numbers. Or another option is to just start over. I’m not much for repetition.

The graphics in the game can essentially be summed into one word, “cute”. It fits in very well together. The game seems to be meant for PDAs and Palm OSs, as the resolution for the game is very small. There is no resizing option that I could find, and so I was stuck playing the game in windows mode. Which in a way was fine, this allowed me to chat and surf the net while the game ran. Had they allowed a full screen mode, or even just a bigger resolution, the game screen would become pixilated. In some ways, I’m glad they stuck to keeping it in windows mode. Another gripe I have is that the store is so small. It’s essentially about 60% of the game screen. With the rest being the sidewalk and street, the sidewalk plays a roll. But the traffic on the street seems to be plain eye candy. I wish they would’ve put all that space to good use.

I can’t say much for sound. There were a few funky poppy tracks, but I ended up turning off the music in game and left Windows Media Player to go through my playlists. The sound effects were fairly generic, but never to the point where it was annoying.

The game is actually fairly fun and can be addicting. I’m not much of a sim person but I enjoyed this game immensely. There isn’t much a replay value because there is nothing new after you’ve racked up an insane amount of bling bling. The resolution is too small on the PC to allow 100% enjoyment in this game. However, if you own a Palm or PDA make sure you grab Tots ‘N’ Togs. This is one of those games that is perfect for on the go.

http://www.alawar.com/games/totsntogs/

Overall Rating: 7.50

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