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JPublic Will Play It - November 2010 - Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale

Posted 10-31-2010 at 05:32 PM by jpublic
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
Developer: EasyGameStation
Publisher: Carpe Fulgur LLC
Platform: PC (Steam/Impulse/Gamersgate)
Price: $20

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Demo available there and elsewhere

Back to Japan, this month. Sort of. Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is an Indie game developed by a Japanese group called EasyGameStation, which was translated and brought over to Western audiences by Carpe Fulgur. They kept the original Japanese voices, but an English voice patch may be created if the game sells enough.

What is Recettear, you ask? To quote Carpe Fulgur, it's an "item-shop-focused role-playing game". Basically the game revolves around Recette and her item shop, and anything else in the game is related to that.

A CoG Review of the game is was done by Lekon, here. Whereas he provides a traditional review, I've provided a true JPWPI log of my first few hours of play.

Before starting the game, I set my configuration. While I played the demo with keyboard, and it was fine, for the full game I'm going to try it with my Xbox 360 gamepad. Setup and config was smooth and easy with the given application, and the controller ended up working perfectly.

On new game, we're introduced to Tear, who swears in French. Tear is trying to wake up Recette, who loves her sleep and is a little silly. Today is the day for their new item store to open! Since we don't have any stock, Tear sends us to the Merchant's Guild, where we can suck up to the Guild Master and buy some stock at 'wholesale' prices (roughly 70% off item value).

While I'm at the Merchant's Guild, I run through a quick set of conversations about the Guild, what we can do there, merchant levels (higher levels mean we can improve my store), what we can do in the town, how to ID items (auto on leaving dungeons), and fusion (to happen later). Under Tear's direction, we buy a few cheap items to stock the store, and head back. Oh, points to the game for the Adam Smith reference, which made me spend some time on Wikipedia reading about him.

Back in the store, Tear gives us directions on how to put the items out for display, and a tip on using the display points by the front window for our best items. Once I put them out, Tear gives us a tutorial on selling items - sell high, but not too high, haggle carefully, and don't alienate the clientele.

And then we make our first sale.


Meet Recette Lemongrass(right) and Tear (left). 'Scuse me while I turn into a little girl and squee at the cute.

Following this, we get tossed into a flashback of the back-story. To sum it up, Recette's father decided he wanted to be an adventurer, borrowed a ton of money, took off and disappeared during one of said adventures. Tear, an employee of the Terme Finance Group, the 'organization' Recette's father borrowed from, came looking for repayment. As Recette doesn't have much money, and the loaners are actually nice enough to not want to throw her out of her home, Tear is assigned to help her gather the funds to pay back the loan, in steadily increasing installments. Recette, being the enthusiastic go-getter she is, embraces the opportunity, and calls her shop Recettear! (Recette+Tear, get it?) And now, minus points on the game for pointing out the Recettear/Racketeer pun.

So, we're back to the main game, at the start of Day 2. I decide we should open the store for the first period of the day (there's 4 in a day), and my first customer is a little girl. We try 125% on the item she wants, drop it to 120%, and... she walks out. This will be a theme for the game. Little girls are cheap jerks. Whereas old men, on the other hand, appear to be much more willing to pay large sums. The second customer bought the same item the first walked away from at 125%. Yay, money!

For the second period, we open the shop again, and a man buys another pricy item for the 130% asking price. Sweet. Young men are more or less the average experience - they'll often buy at the 130% 'recommended' starting price, or might ask for a bit of a discount. And my second customer of the period... a little girl, who walks out on an item at 115%. Damn it, I need to put up a 'No Cheap Little Girls' sign, especially since the next customer was also an identical little girl, who bought the item at 120%.

On the third period, we go to pick out a nice pricy Treeseed Necklace (700 pix) to sell in the last period of the day. We also pick up a couple Walnut Breads because I know some dungeon crawling is coming up, and they're handy healing.

In the last period of the day, We open the store again, after putting my new item in the window. Unfortunately, no one buys it, but I manage to sell another couple items for decent sums.

At the end of the day, we get a rating for our performance (I got Acceptable). Damned if I can figure out how it scores.

We start Day 3 with a walkabout, and decide to chat with Tear a bit about her background and a bit of world lore. Then, we head over to the Adventurer's Guild, and get an introduction on how dungeon-crawling works in this game. Recette can't go by herself. She's just a kid, after all, and besides, she's not a guild member. To go, she needs to convince an adventurer to let her come along - if Recette convinces an adventurer to give her a copy of their guild card, she can then hitch a ride with them on forays.

And conveniently, here's our first patsy, Louie. Louie's a rookie adventurer who needs Recette's help to even pass the Trial Dungeon for Guild Membership. Tear convinces him that if she and Recette help him complete the Trial, they'll get his card.

Off to pick up even more Walnut Breads from the store, and off we go into the dungeon.

In dungeons, we control the adventurer in a standard action RPG format. The adventurer can take/deal damage, but Recette and Tear won't, as they're magically insubstantial. They basically just manage inventory and the like. We're limited on the number of items we can pick up (20 to start), and if our slaveadventurer kicks the bucket, we can only take one, since the rest of our inventory is taken up with dragging their sorry carcass out of the dungeon. Before heading in, you can also load up the inventory with improved items for the adventurer, which they can then equip at the start. I decide to take three of the Walnut Breads, and leave Louie with his default equipment.


Louie, Recette, Tear, as they flee to a safe place from where to begin their foray into Slime-icide.

The dungeons are pretty basic randomly generated rooms, placed on a rectangular grid. I've seen random traps like falling rocks, treasure chests - some trapped, and of course, various critters. Each critter you kill will drop a plethora of gems to pick up - those increase your adventurer's experience. They may also drop items, which we can make Louie pick up at our discretion. Louie's pretty easy to control - he has a basic slash attack that hits in a forward arc, and his magic attack is a circular swing (good if surrounded). When fighting, you get a bonus for attacking from the side or back of a critter.

One thing to note is that Louie, even after he levels, is fairly fragile. You really have to be careful with him to get anywhere, especially after the third level of the trial dungeon, with those freaking kobold/goblin things and their charging punch or worse, throwing rocks. I hate those guys. Heavier armor helps this a lot, but even the best armor in the game won't let you take a low-level guy into a high-level dungeon without risk.

A momentary sidebar - I swear to Fnord that the dungeon music in the Trial Dungeon is the street music from Shadowrun SNES.

Anyway, it doesn't take us long to get to the fifth floor, where we get Louie's card, and are also introduced to the concept of "Doors of Return" which allow us to go back to town every five levels of a dungeon, and then restart from there. However, if you do, you have to get a new adventurer contract, as your current one expires.

Returning home, I take a look at the dozen mystery ingredients we found... and they're all slime fluids. Yay? Oh well, day's over - Exceeds Expectations!

On Day 4, I decide to sell some of our swag in the first period of the day, with disappointing results. For the second period, a quick walkabout, where we run into Louie, doing a great job of putting the 'idiot' into idiot hero. As we return, Tear gives us an intro to the time management portion of the game, where each day is divided into four parts. For the third period, we do some more selling, and am happy to sell some of the higher-priced items. This bumps us to Merchant Level 2, which prompts Tear to teach us how to buy items from the customers. It's much the same process as selling, but you haggle from a low price up, obviously.

We finish off the day with some more selling, with good results. End of day = Exceeds Expectations!

So, Day 5. I decide to try the next dungeon, Jade Way, and pick up Louie to be our minion again. As we enter the dungeon, we get a notice - double experience gain! Yay for Louie! Some new monsters this time - a little bee-type thing that slows Louie, a mushroom thing that looks like the stuffed critter in Recette's room, and a jumpy rabbit thing you have to corner to kill. Also my new most hated trap - the falling rocks were bad, the circle-o-slimes was worse, the boomerang fish was weird, but the snow turning the level into a skating rink sucks. At level 5, Louie gets to fight aomse big Slime with a crown, who dies quickly and leaves us a Slime Stone and the Door as a reward. We hightail it back to town to clear out the inventory, and end the day. Exceeds Expectations!

Day 6 dawns, we try a couple periods of mercantile endeavor, and then wander the town for stock, and then come back to sell some more. Slow day. Exceeds Expectations!

On Day 7, it's crunch time. We need to have 10,000 money by the end of Day 8, or Recette's on the street. We go to pick up some stock, and get to selling. After taking our cash reserves from 5,000 to 1,000, we built them back to over 8,000! Exceeds Expectations.

This is the Day - 8, that is. We have to have 10,000 by the end of the day, or Recette is out on the street. With the first sale, the point is reached, and I decide to spend the rest of the day in the dungeon. Luckily, I managed to keep a Longsword and Iron Armor for Louie so he's somewhat less pathetic. Where the first five levels of Jade Way were a sort of dry riverbed in a forest, the next five are a cave. We make it through, getting some fairly pricy ingredients as we go. After defeating the Rat at level 10, we head home, pay off the loan shark, and rest for the night.

At this point we're treated to a cutscene about a young blonde girl with a laugh who appears to be Recette's future rival. Okay. Next morning (Day 9), we have someone in a box - with what I would swear is the Amazon.com logo on it - creeping about the store. How Snake-ish of you, little girl. We discover her name is Alouette, and that her parents own the stupidly large Big Bash item shop chain. Oh, and she's going to crush us, and our little store too. Of course, loan sharks aren't enough, we have to have competition.

I'm going to touch on a couple other game play notes, as my play-by-play space is over. Eventually you'll see newsflashes, which will warn you when there's a shortage/surplus of an item, so you can sell/buy/stock accordingly. Also, once you hit Merchant Level 5, you can improve regular items (add +'s to them) to make them far more effective via Fusion, even if they're not always worth anything more. Oh, and the amount you have to pay every week? Goes WAY up - like 30,000 for week 2, 80,000 for week three.

If you do happen to miss out on a pay date, don't fear, you can restart the game with all the stuff you had, which makes progression a lot easier the subsequent times through.

Also, if you happen to want to, after you finish the main game (five weeks in the game), there's an Endless Mode (with yet more story bits, it appears) and even a Survival Mode to conquer, where the payments never stop. You can also play with New Game+ mode, where you get all your stuff again, although you *do* have to pay off Tear's bosses again.


Recettear, with its currently pathetic stock. One of those little cheap menaces is outside right now. Stay out, you.

Roundup

So, Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, is cute, sweet, and a really good game. The combination of a low-key item store sim with a low-key dungeon crawler, with a bunch of RPG thrown in for flavor makes for a excellent experience, well worth every penny. The graphics aren't anything to write home about, being something a PSP could do without much problem - heck a NDS could do them justice, I think. However, the game audio is top notch, with decent peppy music, wonderful in-game sounds, and excellent Japanese voice acting. The story - again, sweet, touching, and wonderful to experience, while the characters are really fun.

Probably my only complaint with the game is how damn tough it is to get your adventurer minions to buy appropriate equipment. Really, Louie, you're a swordsman, why are you buying a dagger that costs 50,000? And the little girls need to be banned from the store. Also, the game can get damnably frustrating, when no one seem to want to buy your high-priced items and you're up against the wire.

Addendum: Sober Second Thoughts

It's been a while since I last played this, and since I finished the game, I thought I'd add some more points here. I made it fairly far in the game, completing the last dugneon in the endless mode, and also running into a lot of the other characters. Looking back on my run-through, I have to agree with the popular sentiment that for the first 5 weeks, don't bother with dungeons. You can make carloads of cash by doing pure merchant work and leveling your Merchant Level up as high as possible.
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jpublic's Avatar
New Game+ seems essential for getting some of the more difficult character's True Cards (items that allow you to use them from game start and in Survival Mode), since with enough banked, you can ignore having to work on your shop and focus on talking to people and dungeon runs. Since you get the True Card for the character you've dungeon crawled the most with, being able to spend your last week with someone like say Griff - and not merchanting - is essential.

Also, I question the legs of the game. Once you play it for a while and complete the main story and see a lot of the cutscene content, the game loses a lot of its draw.

I also should put a fair warning here - get the demo before you buy. Some people do not click with this game. I personally think said people need to seek treatment, but hey, what can you do?


1) The JPublic Fun Rating: 4.5 out of 5

2) The JPublic Irritation Rating: 1.0 out of 5

3) The JPublic Value Point: $20





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Posted 10-31-2010 at 05:32 PM by jpublic jpublic is offline
 

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