As part of the Sanrio brand, Hello Kitty Seasons: Beauty Salon is yet another electronic addition to the kingdom of kawaii (or kowaii, depending on who you ask) that, unfortunately, is still not Hello Kitty Online Island Adventure in disguise—and while that may be disappointing enough to ward off the elite connoisseurs of this iconic Japanese cat, it doesn’t immediately disqualify the pleasantly smooth and tepid gameplay which defines Beauty Salon. With a toned-down Diner Dash atmosphere, Sanrio Digital’s endeavor to move Hello Kitty from stationary to mobile gaming will leave the average player relatively entertained and feeling kawaii by the end of the day.
Players run a salon in a play style that is practically Diner Dash, except without combos or a score requisite in order to advance to the next level. In this respect, Beauty Salon is a lot more casual than one would expect, since there seems to be little urgency in the entire game. You lose customers if you make them wait too long, but then again, you can simply wait for the next day and more customers will accumulate. There are five different stations customers can go to, non-inclusive of the holding area where customers wait to get an initial station. Each customer earns the player a base amount of money, which can be increased according to upgrades of various stations.
Upgrades can be purchased with in-game money, although there are many upgrades which require a specific currency called “Hello Kitty Points”. These are the purchasable, real-life money sucker that can greatly improve your ability to fend off customers as they pursue a variety of hairstyles or beautification processes despite wearing full masks or headgear. More upgrades can be unlocked as you level up, which is done by simply playing the game and collecting experience as you serve customers. Upgrades can take one to a couple of games to work up to, depending on what you plan to improve. Cost becomes an issue as you progress past a couple of weeks of in-game time, but may not truly be a problem to those looking for a plain casual experience. Overall, Hello Kitty Points seem like a big cash sink, and there doesn’t seem to be any reliable way to earn Hello Kitty Points consistently other than actually buying them (there were points in my account when I began playing, but those were quickly spent to hire a bear-looking creature at minimum wage to tend to the onslaught of Keroppi-weeabo devil-Capitalists).
Visually, the game is pretty much what you would expect, so long as your expectations are the Beauty Salon staff flailing their arms around regardless if they are handling the barber chair, make-up stool, hair washer, etc. In other words, this game is not meant to bring you into the actual processes of a beauty salon; it’s simply meant to be a vehicle for the game structure. On that note, the game moves smoothly and there is no noticeable lag between shuffling your minions/employees across the salon or directing customers to the correct station. The only real gripe comes from the upgrade screen which, once crowded after leveling up, can sometimes be inaccurate in response—and even then, it is a small, minor grievance. Beauty Salon’s biggest foe in its journey to become a hallmark Hello Kitty game, however, is time. As you continue through your entrepreneurial escapades, gameplay can get dry and upgrades become difficult. While the game is better at being engaging than its model predecessor, Diner Dash, it is hard-pressed to stay fresh due to its less-than-expansive features to which the game is confined. You upgrade stations to get more money to upgrade stations. Monotonous at its worst, Beauty Salon is appealing on the long-term to a niche group of people who enjoy the repetitive grind on the rise to be a salon-based hegemon.
- Simple, clean, smooth
- Gameplay gets boring on the long-term
- Visually uninspiring, though it’s not really a selling-point to begin with
- Currency system seems to be weighted towards the real-money Hello Kitty Points
- Astound your friends as they question why you are playing a Hello Kitty game with such intensity
Available on: Android, iOS; Publisher: Sanrio Digital; Developer: Sanrio Digital; Players: 1; Released: February 2013; ESRB: NA; MSRP: Free; Official Site