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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution

Published By: Carpe Fulgur LLC
Developed By: EasyGameStation
Genre: RPG, Indie
Players: 1
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: September 10, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Steam: Buy Now!
Written By: Anthony Cara

October 3, 2010 - Pardon me shop keep, but how much is that giant ball of adorableness in the window? 24.99? Awww, are you sure you can’t make it just a little cheaper…pretty please? What’s that- $19.99 USD if I buy it now from Steam you say? Why that’s downright delightful. I’ll take it!

And that, dear friends, is the gist of Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tail. While the game may lack the polish or budget of the Atelier series, it more than makes up for it in charm and style.

Recettear begins with a rude wakeup call. Her blundering adventurer father has racked up an incredible debt and then vanished of the face of the earth. His vicious loan shark of a fairy has now come to collect. Involuntary servitude is the name of the game, but our oh-so-cute little ditz turned shopkeeper doesn’t see it that way! To her, this is a great opportunity to grow and experience the exciting world of retail- as she always says “Capitalism ho!” She sees Tear more as a partner than a cruel unforgiving lender, but I doubt players will think the same after missing that first payment…

The game takes on the typical time management style of an RPG/Dating simulation. Everything you do takes up blocks of time and days begin to progress. Recettear gives you 4 blocks a day, but exploring dungeons costs 2 and returning home takes 1. Because of this, the days can go by unusually fast and send you straight to the poor house if you aren’t careful. The main goal of the game is to pay off your debts, but along the way you expand the size and prestige of your shop, meet and recruit various adventurers, and follow cute little side stories along the way. It actually reminds me of the higher end, flash-based, adult dating sim games found on Newgrounds – without the graphic nature of course!

The shopkeeper mechanics are simple but easy to mix up. You begin by stepping behind the counter and opening your shop for one block of time. Shoppers will peruse the items you have placed (with particular attention to the ones in the window) and eventually come up to you for a purchase. At this point you have to haggle with them to get your hard earned cash. The Loanshark Fairy Tear recommends you shoot for 130% percent of market price, but in my several hours of game play, I’ve been forced to go as low as 108 just to make absolute certain something sells. Just like real life, some people just don’t have the cash but love to window shop (especially those contemptible little girls!). Every so often, a person will approach you with an item they wish to sell you. 30% of market value is a good buying price…but if you weren’t paying close enough attention (like me) you may accidentally buy the item for 130% thinking you were selling it…ouch. As you make transactions, you gain merchant levels. This helps you become more successful at haggling, unlocks new shop mechanics, and eventually will let you redecorate!

The dungeon and adventurer mechanics take some getting used to, but they can be pretty fun. Controls are simple, and it feels more like a mini game than an actual polished adventure RPG. You just move about the dungeon looking for the next floor and snag any treasure you spot along the way. Various traps and enemies attempt to hinder your progress, and the final bosses of each map usually have some sort of trick to defeat them. You get to hack/slash/special skill, and strategize all the way! The most inconvenient aspect of this is the way you have to manage your adventurer.

First, you must meet them and complete various story situations to recruit them. For the first few hours of the game, you are pretty much stuck with the all around hero Louie, but later on there is a thief, mage, and mysterious android. This part isn’t so bad and the dialogue in the game is absolutely wonderful. The editor was clearly not afraid to inject some style into what could have been an otherwise bland script of JRPG dubtitled goodness. No, the real problem is the equipment management. You can’t just tell your adventurer what to wear and offer the gear up as a present. You have to either use up valuable bag space to make sure your adventurer is properly guarded, or stock the items in the shop and pray they come buy them.

That deadbeat Louis couldn’t even afford 115% of market value, and I would get incredibly frustrated waiting for him to come back and try to buy some armor again. A word of advice for players, I don’t care how broke you are, you need to be practically GIVING away items to your heroes or they will insist on taking up your bag space with their lame gear on every dungeon run. Well, it’s either that or you can let them wear their own junk and die painfully in a horrible flying-fish related accident…

Back at the shop you can sell goods you either picked up for a steal from the market, or literally stole from the dungeons. The main goal is to hit your quota for each week, or face the wrath of Tear and her ruthless repossessinating! The minute you fail that one payment, you are out on your ass… no apologies, no mercy. GAME OVER… or is it? No, it really is. Oh, but you do get a nice little new game plus as the game begins another cycle. Unfortunately you have to watch the story events again, but at least you can use the almighty ESC key to skip those re-run scenes. In the new cycle you maintain your inventory, merchant level, and hero levels/equipment. You may be back at square one, but you are the best damn square one shopkeeper in town!

Recettear: An Item Shop’s tale is an excellent start for the up and coming game localization team of Carpe Fulgar, and I can’t wait to see their next project. NISA, XSEED, and what used to be Atlus can only localize so much. Most game companies like these won’t even consider a title if they don’t see the chance for immediate returns on their considerable investment. Given the economic climate, I can hardly blame them… but I bitterly mourn the amazing titles that will never see the light of day. There are many who think Japanese games are in a decline, but hopefully these classy niche developers will boldly grab up these plucky little titles and give them a fighting chance stateside.


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