Yes, I play Love Nikki: Dress Up Queen.
As with most things, I started playing Love Nikki after copious amount of ad exposure on Instagram. Before I hit the download button, all I knew about it was that it was an anime-style dress up game and that it was free and I was bored.
I also started the game around the time when I was trying to refresh my wardrobe and was bemoaning my lack of funds. Part of my reasoning, outside of curiosity and boredom, was that through this little app, I could dress up in fun outfits without having to spend any money. (To no one’s surprise, I still ended up spending money.)
Love Nikki is a hugely successful mobile dress-up game published by Chinese company Elex. It appeals to and profits off weebs the world over, including, apparently, me.
I won’t get into the plot too much. It barely makes sense and the crappy English translation really doesn’t help (though it is kind of hilarious in its terribleness). It’s filled with clumsy nods to anime and drama tropes.
Essentially, Love Nikki is about Nikki’s journey in Miraland. She’s a young girl living on Earth with her talking pet cat, but soon after her introduction, we learn that some rando called Queen Nanari of the Lilith Kingdom has summoned her (without much explanation) to the world of Miraland, where fashion reigns supreme. Before departing, Queen Nanari insinuates that Nikki has a role to play in this new world’s major prophecy.
Miraland is all about clothes and how you style them. Meet a stranger on the street? They want to see if they can beat you in a styling contest. Run into a famous designer? They want to test their designs against your styling skills. Meet an assassin bent on stealing precious clothing from their masters’ enemies? Don’t worry, they won’t resort to violence—all you have to do is dress better than them to send them running.
Eventually, the plot gets a bit darker and Nikki finds herself caught up in political turmoil that’s threatening the tenuous peace between the seven nations of Miraland. With her friends, Nikki is determined to help prevent disaster.
So yes, a Love Nikki plot exists. But it’s riddled with holes and feels only a degree or two away from being an autocomplete word story. The English translation feels like it’s been put through a Google Translate shredder.
And yet I still play it. Like, every day. I’m a sucker for collectibles and anime-style dress-up. It brings me a lot of joy, even if I’m now at a point in the main storyline where it can take several days to complete one quest. Thankfully, there’s always a little something for me to do, and always a little something for me to collect. You can get free items at the Mystery House, compete one on one with other Love Nikki players in the Stylist’s Arena, enter the Competition building and participate in days-long popularity contests, go to the Recipe Workshop to craft new clothes and accessories, decorate your Miraland home, join an association and complete additional quests, check into Starry Corridor and see what outfits other players have been dreaming up, go shopping, and now you can even enter the Dream Weaver suite, where you have access to new tasks and new stories featuring major side characters in the original storyline.
There’s a lot. And it’s never overwhelming; it’s kind of relaxing.
I’m not sure if you enjoy dress-up mobile games, but you can probably enjoy a few more screen grabs of some of the weird clothing flavour text I have here.
Where Love Nikki really excels is its vast collection of wearables and constant stream of enticing events through which to collect limited-edition outfits. Admittedly, some of them require that you spend money to acquire “diamonds,” a form of in-game currency, but not always; and sometimes, events will allow enough free play to let you acquire one full set instead of, say, all three that are available. It’s all about what you’re willing to forgo, and honestly it’s not that bad forgoing many of them. Better to miss out than fall into a never-ending vortex of spending.
Which, I should mention—I have spent real money on the game. Enough that I feel bad about it? No. Enough that I’ve cut myself off from the rest of the year? Yes. (It’s December.)
Like with many mobile games, Love Nikki encourages you to spend, and I honestly think it’s fine to spend a little if it makes you happy. But i also think it’s not a great idea to spend a lot of money. After all, it’s just a game, and unlike most games, it’s important to recognize that although there is no cap to how much you can spend (like when you buy, say, a Nintendo Switch game that doesn’t have any DLC), you should probably give yourself a cap! It would be scary to see an entire paycheque go towards a mobile game when it could have gone towards groceries or something.
Maybe I’m just so cautious about it because I don’t like spending money on mobile games. I know there are people out there who have spent thousands on Pokemon Go—but they must be rich, right?
Anyway, if you like dress-up games, I would recommend Love Nikki: Dress Up Queen. It’s horrendously bad, but it’s also aesthetically pleasing and a lot of fun!