In the land of Cliche, there are countless adventurers on epic quests to become heroes, save the princess, slay dragons, banish evil and protect the city. You are not one of those people. You just supply them with weapons. Sounds exciting, right? In a rather strange game of role reversal, it’s Weapon Shop de Omasse for the Nintendo 3DS!
Weapon Shop de Omasse originally released in Japan back in 2012 as part of Level-5’s Guild series, in which single Japanese developers were tasked with creating new game ideas and then releasing them on to the 3DS eShop. The Guild series was then broken down in to two waves, Guild 01 and Guild 02, the first of which releasing Weapon Shop de Omasse (designed by Japanese comedian Yoshiyuki Hirai) alongside Aero Porter (Sega’s Yoot Saito), Crimson Shroud (Yasumi Matsuno – Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre) and Liberation Maiden (SUDA 51 – No More Heroes, Killer is Dead).
While the other three Guild 01 titles were localized for North America in 2012, Weapon Shop de Omasse almost didn’t make it here with publisher Level-5 feeling its audience size in North America was “debatable” and would require too much translation. It took Level-5 almost two years to localize the game and we were finally able to play it for ourselves in late February 2014.
In Weapon Shop de Omasse, you play as Yuhan, the son and apprentice of the local blacksmith Oyaji. Times are tough in the land of Cliche and in order for the family of blacksmiths to turn a profit, Yuhan comes up with the brilliant idea of renting weapons rather than selling them. Oyaji is initially hesitant but gives Yuhan the freedom to run with the idea, crafting weapons for local adventurers and then charging them a rental fee upon their return — pending they actually survive the quest and return at all, of course.
Your customers range from a cast of colorful characters that are rife with personality, down to the blatantly forgettable NPC adventurers looking to rent weapons just to impress a lady or to “club something”. The standout characters, such as your senile grandmother or the 8 foot tall transvestite Mr. Grape Kiss, will act as repeat customers to advance the story along. They’ll usually enter your shop, spit witty banter with the blacksmiths and place an order for a new weapon to pick up later that day.
Placing orders plays out like a live television program, with the audience providing a laugh track during funny moments, gasping in terror or giving a round of applause when reoccurring characters enter the scene. Each scene had that classic 80’s sitcom feel where you’d hear your doorbell ring and those familiar characters would waltz in to your shop, give their absurd justification for accepting a quest and over-dramatically place their orders before storming out. It all adds to the charm of Omasse while playing to its strength of pure insanity.
Yuhan can craft a wide range of weapons, from daggers and blades to spears and clubs, by chiseling them out of different metals and applying upgrade stones to increase the probability of using special attacks, or adding poison and other status ailments. Crafting a weapon is done by tapping the bottom screen with your stylus in a rhythm that plays along with the background music. During the mini-game, you’ll not only have to tap around the chunks of metal to form the weapon’s shape, but you’ll also have to control its heat and then dunk it water once it’s finished.
When an adventurer places their order, the order shows which type of weapon they prefer and which of the three different attack types (slash, pierce or blunt) they’re more likely to use. You can also view the details of the quest they’re on to see if certain monsters are weak to specific elements or attack types so you can try to craft them the perfect weapon. Well, this is how it’s supposed to play out in theory, but crafting weapons in Weapon Shop de Omasse is about as random as the dialogue.
Choosing a weapon from your crafting list shows you the starting stats for the weapon if crafted correctly, but there is really no wrong way to go about crafting anything. As you chisel away chunks of metal, you’re awarded a bonus to one of the three attack types at random. Sure, if you choose a spear that has a higher piercing attack than slashing or blunt, chances are that your finished product will still fall somewhere around the suggested outcome, but you may just end up with nothing but blunt attack bonuses for a completely opposite end result.
To keep weapon statistics going in your favor, you can add different materials that increase the probability of earning specific attack type bonuses during the smithing mini-game, but I didn’t notice much of a change at all. From a technical standpoint, I didn’t quite understand having the option to change the outcome of my weapons when it didn’t actually work as intended, but more often than not I’d end up with something close to what I was hoping for based on the raw stats shown on the crafting screen. If it didn’t work out, I’d craft another and hope for the best. Yuhan is an apprentice blacksmith after all.
Between filling weapon orders, random NPC’s will show up to rent whatever you have in stock. You can choose which quests to send them off on and which weapon to rent out, but although they may not seem as important as the delicious Mr. Grape Kiss, their success will not only bring in money and materials for your shop but each time a weapon is returned its statistics are increased for its next rental.
With this in mind, it always seemed like a good idea to use new materials and craft a wife variety of weapons to avoid being surprised by NPC rentals. Nothing sucked more than getting an NPC up to level 8 and then not having a weapon in stock that caters to their strengths. Watching them head out the door to impending doom not only means certain death, but the loss of the crafted weapon and whatever materials and money they would have returned with.
As it’s written by a comedian, Weapon Shop de Omasse is jam-packed with jokes ranging from JRPG cliches, often poking fun at other video games and purposefully overusing internet slang, such as hashtag jokes, typing in ALL CAPS or LOLOLOLOLOL-type stuff. The game features a live social network feed called Grindcast (basically Twitter) that you can follow in-game while waiting around for customers or polishing returned weapons.
As boring as reading a fake Twitter feed sounds, Grindcast often had me laughing so hard to the point of being in tears and is where a large portion of the game’s dialogue took place. Their updates act as a play-by-play to combat, showing how much damage they’re dealing and their own remaining health pool, but they were all just technicalities that got in the way of witty banter and ongoing jokes between other characters. I was much more interested in what was going on at Larper Lake or cracking up at the use of hashtag jokes (#stillneedthatcure) than I was following along with the scrolling combat text.
Overall your enjoyment with Weapon Shop de Omasse is going to depend on whether or not you enjoy slapstick comedy and your familiarity with common JRPG tropes that are often made fun of. My playthrough took me almost 8 hours, which may sound like a lot of time spent tapping along with my stylus to catchy theme songs or reading the Grindcast feed, but there was never a dull moment. I loved all of the different characters and their ridiculous motives for wanting to rid the world of the Evil Lord (or Lord Dudebro, as the acrobat sisters call him), and felt that Weapon Shop de Omasse was not only one of the most unique titles I’ve ever played but successfully fused gaming and comedy in a way that didn’t feel like it was being forced upon me because the jokes were always funny.
Recommended for fans of: JRPGs, quirky Japanese games, rhythm games, something different.
Bradley Keene is an avid gamer & freelance blogger from Baltimore, MD who typically handles news and reviews here at What’s Your Tag?. If he’s not knee-deep in an RPG or some form of Nintendo game, he’s usually watching terrible horror films or listening to Gwar. Follow him on Twitter @amgfail_WYT, or contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.