Two years ago, Weapon Shop de Omasse of S.S. Guild 01 was lost at sea. Suspected to be marooned somewhere near the deserted isle known as “Localization,” it was feared lost by the Western world. Fortunately, a Level-5 International America craft found the missing game and delivered it to the waiting hands of fans half a globe away.
Written by Japanese Comedian Yoshiyuki Hirai, of America Zarigani fame, Weapon Shop de Omasse subverts stereotypical RPG elements with fourth-wall-breaking shenanigans and a cast of truly, truly, truly outrageous characters. Due to its culturally infused comedy, Weapon Shop de Omasse faced many translation challenges, which clouded chances of localization. But due to demand and a talented team of translators, Weapon Shop de Omasse has made the voyage and opened up shop. Let’s get smithing!
Step 1: Resurrect an Evil Lord
The world has changed. The NPCs can taste it in the water. They feel it in the earth. They smell it in the air. They can also see a handy little meter that serves as a personal raid boss timer. The return of the Evil Lord is nigh.
In comes our crafting hero, Yuhan, a descendant of the original vanquishers of the Evil Lord and apprentice to master blacksmith, Oyaji. With rumors of a villainous return, NPCs and would-be heroes alike start amassing weapons. Supply definitely drives demand in this world and with a dwindling source of armaments Yuhan comes up with a revolutionary idea -- why not rent them instead?
With this new business model, Weapon Shop de Omasse attracts a multitude of people through its doors. Yuhan backs up each rental with a satisfaction guarantee. The weapon will see its wielder through any situation or their money back. Seems like a losing proposition in the monster-fighting field, but it certainly draws in the customers -- each with his or her own fighting style and specialty. Weapons are split by weapon type and further segmented by level and three statistics: slashing, piercing, and blunt damage. When considering which sword or axe to rent out, Yuhan must take into account the proficiency of the renter, the kind of quest they're undertaking, and an appropriately leveled weapon.
Speaking of quests, there are two types found within the game: those from NPCs and those from reoccuring customers. The former have a choice of jobs to choose. Think this guy can't handle killing a fire-breathing dragon?Just have him slay a glittery, pink unicorn instead. As for the second set of adventurers, their quests push along the main storyline, furthering their personal character arcs and often revealing tidbits of the Evil Lord's resurrection. Don't worry if you don't have the perfect weapon on hand, these characters can wait. But just what goes into crafting these perfect weapons?
Step 2: Make Some Weapons
The primary form of gameplay comes through forging new and exotic arms for your clients. In a Parappa the Rapper-esque throwback, your master hammers out the appropriate rhythm that you must follow. Perfectly mimicking the beat grants more points, which are used as a bonus to slash, piercing, or blunt damage. For each successful measure, points are added to one of these stats. Hitting the same spot over and over again causes black "X's" to appear, telling you to try striking somewhere else. Upon completion of a weapon, these points are measured out with your master telling you how well the weapon will perform in each category. These range from "Lame" to "Great!" as you fill up each stat's grey bar.
Part of successfully forging a weapon is ensuring that it stays at a perfect temperature. A colorful meter at the bottom shows the current temperature of your molten globule. The blue area indicates the metal is too cool, while the yellow denotes it's too hot. A red median indicates the perfect tinkering heat. As the weapons get more complex, the red bar shrinks accordingly until you're using precious coal to help keep the metal warm while Oyaji clinks away.
And don't forget the secret ingredient. No, it's not love, but a range of additives that can make forging just a bit easier or others that add special properties to your weapons such as paralysis, poison, or even the blade color. Anyone like pink swords? Some of these items can even aide crafting a specialized weapon. These extra materials tend to be expensive, so you'll want to use them sparingly. Luckily, NPCs sent on quests do have a chance to gift you some of these items, rewarding you for renting out more weapons and challenging your clients to take on harder quests.
Unfortunately, while initially fun and captivating, the gameplay presents a true weak point to this eShop title. Each weapon type follows a singular music track that matches its primary user, which made for fun the first few times it's heard, but becomes grating after hearing the same tune time and time again. Bonus points earned while pounding to the beat are seemingly applied arbitrarily to the three stats, often in unintended ways. For instance, a dagger proficient in slashing can have a majority of bonus points added to blunt damage instead of slash damage.
Chains of perfect tapping don't seem to add any appreciable values to your weapon bonuses. I've had multiple weapons with near perfect chains end up dull, while missing multiple beats has gotten me masterworks. Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of forging are those black X's. A problem I had in later weapons was over-tapping areas I thought needed more taps; while other parts looked perfect, but oftentimes needed another love tap or two. Coupled with the same track playing and the mostly arbitrary weapon bonuses, crafting that one masterwork katana made me assume the fetal position.
Step 3: ????
The saving grace of Weapon Shop de Omasse is the level of detail that went into the world. While the NPCs have "Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny" syndrome, the cast of supporting, reoccurring characters have their own quirks and designs. Some of these unforgettable misfits are twin, Asian acrobats searching for their heirloom sword, a swashbuckling femme fatale who fell for the wrong guy, and, most fabulous of all, a muscular divo obsessed with beauty and makeup. The greatest part is reading their thoughts and actions as they quest about, courtesy of a small gizmo called the Grindcast.
The Grindcast acts like a medieval Twitter, giving various updates about your clients and also the general mood of the world. Don't ask me how they work -- it's magic. These messages range from anonymous speculations to public service announcements. At first the messages stay rather lighthearted, but as the return of the Evil Lord nears the messages get a bit more frantic, though still with a humorous touch. One fan-girl grindcasts, "Evil Lord x Prince . . . Tee hee hee . . . I can't stop fantasizing." I think I found my kindred spirit in-game.
Another entertaining feat of the game is how it breaks the fourth wall. Like older television programs, this game comes with its own soundboard. Unpopular choices, such as refusing to rent out a weapon, are met with a chorus of boos. When Oyaji appears, he's met with a cascade of applause. Further amusement is derived from the inner monologues of NPCs, who often wonder about receiving achievements for their deeds or marvel at beating the pixels out of monsters. In an ironic twist, Yoshiyuki Hirai pokes fun at the typical RPG through a stereotypical cast of characters. Perhaps some of the humor and subtlety was lost in translation, but it didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying Yuhan and his misfit clientele.
Step 4: Profit!
As Yoshiyuki Hirai puts, "If you created a weapon, wouldn't you want to know what happened to it?" To that end, Weapon Shop de Omasse is a success. With the grindcast, we are able to see the fruits of our labor in action, saving the kingdom from the forces of evil and in some cases against nefarious stuffed animals.
Unfortunately the heart of the game, forging weapons, is often a lackluster experience. I found myself wanting to skip weapon crafting and return to the colorful cast of characters. While Weapon Shop de Omasse shows an appreciably high attention to detail, I felt the gameplay offered little to keep my attention. Despite its shortcomings, I hope this isn't the last we see of Yuhan's successful weapon renting business.
P.S. That grindcast fangirl doesn't know anything. Anyone who knows anything knows that Mr. Grape Kiss belongs with Yuhan (after another +5 to his age stat, that is).