Make no mistake, just because the theme of Sally’s Salon is girly in nature doesn’t mean the game isn’t fun or challenging. While the game does have its share of setbacks, ultimately this time management game is good title which suits Windows Phone 7 well.
The game starts you off with a small mall location, and you slowly move on to more exciting and financially lucrative locations, such as a Hotel or Oceanside. Each location has about 10 levels (or ‘days’) to progress though until you move to the next. You can upgrade and add equipment with the money you earn, as well as hire employees to do some of the work for you. Performance is based off the money you earn, where you aim to meet your daily goal, and then hopefully reaching Expert and Perfect scores.
To accomplish this, you have to keep customers happy. You’ll do lots of finger dragging, moving customers from the waiting area to the wash station, then to the style chair, hair dryer and so on. Some patrons want just a few services while others want it all. Your goal for high scores is to have all customers leaving with five hearts. Keep the customers patient and give them the style they want to keep them at their happiest. A small mini-game allows you to give the customer the style they desire; cycle through different styles quickly and tap their face when they are smiling for a bonus. It’s humorous to see some of the styles and colors the customers want, ranging from punk teenage boys, prom queens, old men, to business women. All have various ranges in patience and tip amounts and it’s your task to manage all that. The Luxury part of the game is the massive 75 level count, a more difficult second campaign, and a Survival Mode. It’s a significant jump from the original web game.
This task management style gameplay has been popularized by games like Diner Dash
, and seen recently in WP7 titles like Star Wars Cantina
. The gameplay in Sally’s Salon is fun as well as frantic. You’re under lots of pressure to plan the right moves and to please the customers to your greatest potential. You have the tools at your disposal to do so; like the styling mini-game, coffee, magazines, employees, etc. The use and strategy of these are fast paced and often clever, as well as adding a bit of challenge, as far as Perfect scores or achievements are concerned. It’s quite gratifying when you planned everything right and all customers leave with 5 hearts and you get that Perfect score. If you’ve played similar titles you’ll like what Sally has to offer, or if it’s your first time with a game like this you’ll understand why games such as Diner Dash have become so popular. Sally’s Salon stands well on its own and offers enough to set itself apart rather than being a generic knockoff.
There isn’t much else to say about the gameplay though, which is one of the few detractors of an otherwise solid title. Although the level count is huge, many of them feel the same. Different locations usually offer more
—more stations, more customers— but to most it’ll feel like much the same. Managing everything is fun but could use more variety. This issue will be more glaring for some than others, depending on how much you like this type of game. Controls are adequate, but sometimes you’ll be frustrated when you drag a customer to a new spot or tap a chair to perform a task and it just doesn’t register, likely caused by the sheer number of things on a small phone screen. It isn’t game breaking by any means, but certainly an annoyance that occurs a few times per level. The soundtrack is very forgettable too, just barely outpacing music you hear while being on hold.
Despite its faults, Sally’s Salon really holds up well and is a welcome addition to the Windows Phone library. Some may not be willing to look past it’s largely feminist theme, but if you do you’re in for a fun little game that keeps your attention long enough to warrant a purchase.