In the grand scheme of things, hairdressers can seem pretty insignificant, but deep down they hold the secret, terrible capacity to utterly ruin your entire week. You put your faith into them and trust that they know what they're doing, or else just one bad haircut will stick with you for a month. If a new generation of these stylistic reapers are being trained by anything even resembling My Style Studio: Hair Salon then we're all doomed.
This is a direct port of the 3DS title which we reviewed over a year ago. In short; we didn't like it, and that year hasn't made our hearts grow any fonder. Clearly aiming for a young audience, the extent of the game has you choosing one of five grinning doll heads to style (we always opted for the President Obama-lookalike, for a sense of gravitas) and then provides 13 tools to work with. Save for a few simple animations these clients are completely static, and won't raise a single objection or make any requests as you hack away at their precious locks. Without direction, you're free to take in the slightly creepy atmosphere as you explore your options.
In less than ten minutes it becomes apparent just how little there is to do here, even with an arsenal of scissors, electric razors, hair dyes, shampoo, and straighteners at your disposal. Everything is controlled by the touch screen, but with awkward jabs and lazy stylus rubbing instead of attempting to inject any sort of fun into the procedure. The hair doesn't even look or behave normally, which is pretty much the only thing that developer Cypronia really needed to get right. It just feels weak, never quite moving how you'd like it to or reacting properly to your treatments. Pouring water on your customer really pulls back the veil, as their hair thins into limp strings that bare their scalp.
Approaching Hair Salon with any kind of idea is more effort than its worth, as the whole package just doesn't come together in a satisfying way at all. The weird hair is difficult to predict, so precise cuts can have a totally different effect than desired, and manipulating it into any kind of shape requires you to pick out the right strands to move separately. There's no flow to anything, so creative license is relegated solely to circus-worthy haircuts that provide this game's only semblance of short lived entertainment.
Once your creation is complete, you're free to take a screenshot and post on Miiverse for all to see and fear. Final touches such as glasses, hats, and flowers can be pasted on or around your 'happy' customer, and then you go right back and start over again. It should be noted that no sound plays out of the main television display at all, even as the tinkling music and stock sound effects play from your gamepad, though we can't think of how you'd manage to pull in an audience for this one anyway.
My Style Studio: Hair Salon might have worked as a free, mildly competent flash game to distract kids with for a few minutes. Instead, it releases on Wii U as a lazy port of an already uninspired game, failing to add anything of substance. There was potential here to provide a worthwhile hair salon simulator for a younger audience, and some might still be able to get a kick out of it for a minute or two, but the level of interactivity required to hold anyone's attention beyond a brief glance simply isn't here. Cut this one out of your lineup.