Kayarath’s Adventures in Capitalism!

Posted on Feb 23 2012

Yayifications! I get to do a review of Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale! So you have an item shop! And stuff! And it’s all cool and awesome! What do you do now? Well there’s plenty of options so use your judgment and deal with what comes. I think a good first step is to explain what the game is. Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale follows the story of Recette, a young girl who must pay off a large debt to avoid foreclosure on her house (I’m sure many of you can already strongly relate to her)! Guided by the fairy Tear, she must open and run an item shop to generate the required funds.

The game was developed by Japanese Doujin studio Easy Game Station and brought over to America by Carpe Fulgur. What makes Recettear intriguing is that it’s two different games in the same package. One half is running an item shop and the other half is a dungeon crawling action RPG. Somehow the two different games synergize, fusing together to make an unique experience.

It IS cool and awesome!

Let’s start with the part that the title implies, running an item shop. I never though that running an item shop could be made into a compelling game, but it works; really well. There’s all sorts of things you’ll need to manage. The most important one is the haggling. Each customer will bring you an item, and then you’ll name a price. The customer will either accept it, walk away, or ask for a lower price. If they ask for a lower price, you provide a new price and the process repeats itself until you sell it or the customer walks away. Give a price that is too high and you’ll lose the sale, but if you’re too low your profit margins will suffer. Everyone has different prices that they’ll accept too. Some will always try to lowball you while others are fine with paying more. Every sale is a high stakes negotiation, without the memory loss and giant robots in the end.

Every time you successfully sell something, you’ll gain experience and eventually levels, which unlock new abilities. The most decorative power is to customize your shop with various wallpapers, counters, tables, and carpets. You’ll also get access to new merchandise and game features, like buying from your customers, fusing items together, and recommending items to customers that have general requests. Random events appear, which can be a boon or a bust, depending on your ability to capitalize on them. You’ll also need to manage your inventory, deciding on what to sell, hold on to, and how to get stuff to sell in the first place. You can buy things from various shops or your customers, but the best stuff is in the dungeons.

Tell me, do you feel lucky?

Naturally, you may want to to enter them in search of phat loot. That means it’s time to dungeon crawl! Generally, it’s similar to Diablo in that you go through randomly generated dungeons, fighting randomly generated monsters in search of randomly generated treasure in real time. You can have your way with the dungeons with mad skills and a gamepad, but anyone should be able to brute force their way through with enough leveling, equipment, and healing items. The dungeons are divided up into floors, with a boss and potential exit at every fifth floor. It’s straight forward ordeal that does all the basic things a dungeon crawl should do.

What makes it interesting is why you’re in the dungeons in the first place. You’re there to get stuff to sell in your shop! Since you have a limit to how many items you can carry, you must select what to keep and what to skip. You’ll also have to decide if you leave early with the stuff you got or press on further in the name of phatter loot. If your adventurer friend gets defeated though, you’ll only be able to take a few items back with you, rending the trip a huge waste of time. Did you think you would go into a dungeon alone now, would you? Recette is super cute, but cute doesn’t defeat monsters and open treasure chest; that’s what adventurers are for! Over the course of the game, you’ll be able to recruit up to eight different adventurers to escort you in your dungeon delving. Each one has their own abilities and special move set, meaning that you’ll have to pick the right adventuring friend to match your own play style as well as the challenges in the dungeon. They all bring something different to the table, adding a bit of variety to the whole affair.

What really makes the game unique is how the item shop running and the dungeon crawling really fuse together. Doing well in the dungeons means getting really good items to sell in your store, and doing well in the store means you have more resources to spend in dungeon running. Neither side of the game has to completely encapsulate you since you can always do the other thing when you want a change of pace. It’s like how Negima! works as being both an action series and a harem comedy.

Metal Gear Solid, this is not...

Rounding out the experience is a pleasant if basic instrumental soundtrack, highlighted by the theme song “Recettear” sung by Sora Yuizuki. You wouldn’t expect a sung theme song in what’s basically an indie game, but Recettear has it! Graphically, the game is simple but practical. If you want something nice to look that, there are plenty of beautiful character portraits to stare at. The writing, script, and story are all top notch! Carpe Fulgur does localization like Sekirei does fanservice! The screen shots should be proof enough of that!

In the midst of cracking the various game system, fighting through the dungeons, and enjoying the hilarity, the clock is always ticking. Mange your time well because every week Tear the fairy will demand ever increasing amounts of pix (the game’s name for money). Seriously, those bills gets real big, real fast! Failure to pay those bills means game over! To the box with you! However, you can start again on day one with all of your accumulated items, experience, etc.

This is how I feel about the game...

I think a good deal of people won’t beat the game on their first try. It’s difficult to grok! I played it a while, came to the conclusion I wasn’t doing it right, started over again, and still got a game over. It’s not that the mechanics aren’t well thought out. Once you understand how everything works, you’ll be truff-kay. The thing is it’ll take a while to get the hang of it. Running an item shop is a unique game experience, and you really can’t apply what you learned elsewhere to master it. It’s not like a FPS where good aiming skills and reflexes will always be useful. You’re in new territory, and the signs telling you how to not get lost aren’t as obvious as I would like them to be.

You’re in a good place though. Recettear is a great game and there’s nothing else like it on the market! I’ve played this game for over one hundred and fifty hours and I’m not even done yet! If that’s not a sign of liking it, I don’t know what is! Worse case scenario, you’ll be like Kana and bored of it after beating it twice. This is a type of game that will make you yell “yayerations” at the top of your lungs! Capitalism, HO!

Thank you so much for reading this!

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  • Voidstar40 April 30, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    This is a really great game! I’ve only got the demo, but it seemed really fun and cute.

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