Merchant Madness

Have you ever rolled into an item store while playing an RPG and wished there was a way to run your own? Other games like Fable and World of Warcraft allow you to purchase existing shops or open your own corner store selling off the loot you’ve crafted or found. Recettear is a unique indie game coming out of Japan that has built an entire experience out of owning and running your own item shop. It’s been out a while overseas but thanks to the group of Carpe Fulgur, English speaking players will get to play this unique game soon.

The game starts with your character waking up and being told she needs to open the item shop soon. After a quick tutorial about the town you’re off to purchase stock for the opening day. Make sure to pick wisely as you’re very limited in funds and will want to carry a wide range of inventory to draw in more customers. Once the items are bought you’ll head back to the store and place the items around the shop, making sure to put stuff that will attract close to the window. Once the store is open customers will wander in and purchase items through a haggle mini-game. It’s best to try selling items at either a 30 or 40 percent increase because most people like to ask you to lower it. Each day is broken down into four sections of time; you can open the store four times or use one of those slices to buy merchandise.

Buying merchandise will only get you a limited number of weapons and armor to sell at your shop and will cost you investment money. The best way to gather items is by going down into the many dungeons and collecting loot yourself. Since you’re playing as a cute merchant girl that would be eaten alive or have her “Cuteness stolen,” as she would say you’ll need to hire adventurers from the Adventure’s Guild. Only one adventurer was available in the demo, a new recruit whom you must help pass his exam to receive his Adventurer card. You’ll use those as a recruiting tool for the dungeons later in the game. There are a couple of things to keep in mind while fighting your way through the dungeon. The first is if you die you’ll lose everything except one item from the inventory. The next is the inventory is very limited so passing on items that are not worth a lot of money early in the dungeon will mean you can carry some of the more expensive items the higher up you go. The fighting is very simplistic but has enough strategy to make the fights feel challenging without feeling too cheap. Every five levels there’s a door way back to the world which you’ll take to sale the items you’ve accumulated.

There is plenty of story and meaning behind each of the mechanics in Recettear. You’ll learn early on that the girl’s father as ran the store into the ground and is in debt that would make your character faint. Every week 10,000 dollars of the dept must be paid or else the loan company will take the shop and you’ll be living in a cardboard box out on the streets. Helping you along the way is a very money hungry fairy who acts on behalf of the loan company, giving you tutorials on how to open shops and fight in the dungeons. There was also a hint of a rivalry at the end of the demo when a girl and her loan fairy arrive in town talking about Recettear Item Shop.

Artistically, Recettear is very much a Japanese doujin game with heavy anime influences. The characters are cute and express themselves in wild animations, the sound effects will make you laugh even if you can’t understand the language and the world feels like it’s straight out of a RPG. Events are played out with hand drawn character art talking with each other, but the rest of the game is completely 3D. This is probably one of the best looking indie games I’ve seen come out of Japan since Ragnarok Battle Offline.

Although no concrete information has been set, the translators hope to have a version ready for digital distribution sites in early August with no pricing announced. After my fifth play through of the demo I can say without a doubt I’ll be one of the first to put my money down and spread the word as much as possible.







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