I love playing Avatar Dress-Up. If items of clothing have useful or magical properties in a game, I like to put together special outfits for specific missions. My XBox avatar changes clothes every few months. I dress my Rock Band avatar for every city my band Piss Bat plays. It's just fun, and I think a lot of that fun is having the freedom to make the avatar look any way one chooses. Because my head is lumpy, I probably shouldn't wear a Toxie-green Mohawk, but my Fallout character looks great in a 'hawk.
Lady Popular does not give the player that kind of freedom. The game dictates what kind of hairstyle the player should get in order to level up. So, even though the Hair Stylist has a huge selection of styles from which to choose, to get ahead the player has to conform to the game's idea of how one's avatar should look. Boring, boring, boring.
Now, a case could be made that the game teaches young girls about color and style, much like a more straightforward educational game might tell the player to pick a square or a triangle from a list of shapes. But the game dictates other things that should be the player's choice, like my boyfriend Car washer. Nothing against the guy; like I said, he's adorable, but wouldn't it be more fun to flirt with different people at The Club? (And if the game actually is for girls young enough to need to be taught color, why does the character have to go to a meat market to find a date for the party? I am pretty liberal most of the time, but five-year-old kids just should not be dating.)
Wouldn't it be more interesting to make seducing a date for the party part of the game? All I did was click a button, and BAM! Car washer and I were an item. That's no fun. I don't know anything about him, except for his occupation, and he knows nothing about me, except that I look totally smokin' in these new jeans I got at The Mall.
Which brings me to another reason this game is so boring. Lady Popular is supposed to be a social game--the Lady goes to school to train for a job, she dances and flirts at The Club, etc.--but nowhere is there a character sheet with XP to allocate. A Lady with high Endurance, for example, could dance longer at The Club, and a Lady with high Barter could get better deals on items at The Mall. Instead, every Lady is exactly the same as every other Lady. Dullsville for sure.
So, I played as far as Level 2 and then went back to Dead Island, where there are no wardrobe changes for Xian Mei, but where I can live out my zombie apocalypse fantasies in a safe environment.