The first thing Supermodel Empire insists on is that you throw out your preconceptions of the fashion industry before playing the game – it's certainly not the shallow, superficial, socialite pomposity its name suggests.
In fact, an hour at play on Supermodel Empire and you begin to learn a newfound respect for the industry that operates behind every pair of shoes, t-shirt and bandana. While the actual outfit designs do feature prominently in the game, the real challenge is in anticipating forthcoming trends and cutting costs (as well as fabric).
Sumea has already made significant waves with its previous tycoon games Nightclub Empire and Rock City Empire, and Supermodel continues the trend quite admirably. It's also more likely to appeal to female gamers, though not simply because this is a game that involves buying shoes – far from it. Supermodel Empire plays to the more naturalistic feminine talents of financial acuity, multi-tasking events and analytical observation.
These fundamental skills are where the fashion industry (at least, according to this particular game – possibly in real life, for all we know) begins, and following a careful process of research, development and marketing are crucial to shoring up those well-tailored points.
Of course, this actually makes Supermodel Empire sound more like an accountancy program than a game, which isn't the case at all. The many and varied tasks required to grow your fashion company into an empire are represented by a clever assortment of mini-games that ultimately add up to an arsenal of multifaceted and in-depth features.
Very much akin to games such as Sim City (and featuring a trace, comical hint of Rockstar Ate My Hamster, for all those aging retro gamers out there), Supermodel Empire eases gamers into the complex world of product building quickly but concisely.
It's refreshing to see a mobile game move away from the hard and fast puzzle varieties we're seeing so much of, and offer a more engrossing, long-lasting experience. A game of Supermodel Empire could, if you so desired, last for more than a few days' worth of bus rides and coffee breaks, so be prepared to get involved if you want to do it right.
Of course, it wouldn't be much of a fashion empire if it didn't ultimately focus on the clothes – and this aspect reigns supreme in a well played game. Once the research has been done and paid for, it's time to create your collection based on the trends observed at whichever chic venues you could afford to frequent.
Time is of the essence, so figuring out whether your collection matches the research is a matter of some skill, and if you fail to coordinate the outfits in time, it's up to your own sense of style to save the day.
Choosing the correct employees, executives, pattern makers and consultants is equally paramount (you need opinions you can both trust and afford) before finally putting on a fashion show to earn the recognition of your peers.
Spreading your brand name among the people in the street also helps this game add up to a quest for reputation. Your brand name means everything, so everything from choosing the right shoes to hiring the right model makes all the difference – just get ready to shell out for the big names.
While Supermodel Empire does remain fairly superficial (within the constraints of the peripheral industry it represents), this isn't a game of dressing up and strutting – it's a tycoon system for women (not girls) who want to look behind the scenes and get a little more depth from their mobile games.