Recettear : An Item Shop’s Tale
Game Name: Recettear : An Item Shop’s Tale
Publisher: Cape Fulgar LLC
We’re doing a bit of a blast from the past today. I looked through my game library and decided there are plenty of older games that I haven’t played that deserve it. One in particular has had my attention for quite some time and I finally decided to set down for an hour or so and give it a try. About seven hours later I realized I was still playing and my girlfriend was wondering why I wasn’t answering my phone. My answer? Recettear : An Item Shop’s Tale.
Originally, Recettear was created and released in December of 2007 by Japanese indie developer EasyGameStation. The game grew such a large fan base in Japan that it was eventually picked up by freshly created Carpe Fulgar who used their talents to translate and re-release it through online vendors such as Steam and Gamersgate in September of 2010.
Recettear is a technically an RPG, but with an interesting twist. You play as a young girl named Recette Lemongrass whose father mysteriously vanishes on top of a volcano fighting a dragon (Naturally he is assumed alive and well). Mister Lemongrass leaves his daughter with his sizeable debt which she must somehow pay off (No, it’s not that type of game). Luckily for her, the fairy who comes to collect on the debt is the cool kind of fairy who, instead of metaphorically kicking her out to the literal cardboard box, instead decides to help Recette pay back her debt by turning her into a shopkeeper.
Playing the game is mainly about running your shop. You go out and procure items (Buying them from the market or crawling through dungeons) and then arrange them throughout your store. When people come in to buy them you can haggle to try and get the best prices. It sounds a bit dull, but the process is quite engaging and sometimes stressful (I have flipped off a little girl, but to be fair she is a stingy little brat). You’re constantly toe-ing the line between what price the customer is willing to pay and how much money you should be getting from this. If you don’t give them the price they want they will walk away, leaving you there holding your loot while your debt looms over you. Each sale also nails you a set amount of XP which contributes towards your Merchant Level. Leveling up gives you bonuses such as new items to buy from other merchants, special customer functions (Taking advanced orders, buying from customers, etc.), and increased customization of your shop
The game has a calendar which keeps track of the days. Each day you are only able to keep the shop open for so long before you have to go rest your weary head and dream of all the delicious food you can’t afford. You are expected to pay a portion of the debt each week and if you don’t make it then game over (There is no rage quite like the rage of being just one thousand short of hitting the mark). Thankfully, there is a bit of a net in place in case you do fail utterly. After Recette’s house is taken from her, you slip into sleep and wake back up and realize the clock has set back to Day 1. You still have all of your merchandise and retain your Merchant Level, but your money is set back to the 1,000 you started with. Don’t sweat too much if you get a game over and have to start from (Near) scratch. The second play-through is remarkably easier as you have a much firmer grasp on the concept of buying low and selling high.
After the first couple of days you’re given the News function. At certain times of the day the News banner will flash across the top of the screen and give you updates on what’s trending. Items with increased or decreased prices, what item is popular, and who left their change at the tavern (It’s a small town). These News Flashes are unspeakably (So let’s speak about it) critical to the game. A fact that took me until my second play-through to realize. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been barely halfway to my next debt payment with only a couple of days to go when suddenly the price of swords goes up and I sell the thirty worn swords I’d been hoarding. No, wait. That happened once. I can count to one. But similar instances are quite frequent.
Once you get out of the stuffy shop, you can venture around town a bit. Stopping by merchants to pick up new stock, visiting places to watch cut-scenes and learn more about your characters, or stopping by the Adventurer’s Guild and hiring yourself an adventurer. Once you pay their fee and select which dungeon area to explore, you gain control of the adventurer and fight your way through the horde of monsters to get rare (and most notably expensive) loot.
All the combat is in real-time.
Now I don’t know Japanese so I can’t tell you how the dialogue matches up to the original, but I will say that the dialogue of the English translation is incredibly entertaining. The characters are cute and funny. Recette constantly dreams and thinks about food while her helpful fairy tries her best to keep her in line. Though I will say it is a very anime type of humor (Over the top silly with very emotive characters). If this isn’t your cup of tea then feel free to skip the scenes involving this and focus on the regular gameplay, there’s more than enough there to keep you thoroughly entertained.
It’s not often that I remark on a game’s soundtrack, but Recettear has some truly fantastic music. The entire setting of the game is very cute. No, more than cute. It’s adorable. And the music compliments this wonderfully. When I first opened up shop I spent a solid minute just sitting and listening to the music, rocking my head slightly back and forth with a silly grin on my face.
No one could steal your cuteness Recette.
I honestly can’t think of anything bad to say about this game. Normally I can find something to nitpick about, but this game delivers on every point. I’ve read that others have talked about its “outdated graphics”, but I can’t see it. No, it doesn’t run on Crysis 2’s engine. But the artwork done for the cut scenes is beautiful and feels completely at home with the heart of the game. I will say that the game appears quite short as you look at the calendar and see how quickly the days pass by. But once the game is over you are given a few options: An Endless Mode where you keep going day after day, or New Game + where you start over from the beginning and build back up your empire. Then you have the item encyclopedia which houses the list of items that you can find and create. Even through two playthroughs I’ve barely gotten a quarter of them.
In the end, Recettear is fun, unique, addictive, and funny. I couldn’t ask for more from a game. Capitalism, ho!
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