Weapon Shop de Omasse Review
When Level-5 first brought their Guild-01 games to the West, the publisher did not bring all four the the bize-sized games to the eShop. While many gamers were happy to recieve the anime-equse Liberation Maiden, the heavily Dungeons and Dragons inspired Crimson Shroud, and the frantic Aero Porter, another group lamented over the fact that the seemingly most interesting of the titles did not make the trip. Now, over a year later, Weapon Shop de Omasse has finally graced our 3DSes, completing the Guild collection. Does this title strike the red-hot steel in our hearts, or does Weapon Shop de Omasse douse it in icy cold water?
Weapon Shop Omasse stars two blacksmiths, Yuhan and Oyaji, that rents their weapons to heroes in need. Why not sell them, you ask? Well, the price of the materials needed to make weapons has skyrocketed over the years since the Dark Lord was defeated, and the enterprising young blacksmith comes up with the idea to simply rent the weapons out to lower the cost. It's a humorous premise, and one that really sets the stage for the entire game. Weapon Shop de Omasse is a jab at RPGs, with characters that are exagerated tropes and with absurb personal quests that will make even the most stern player chuckle. This game is oozing with charm, and its clever lines and larger than life characters are easily the best part of the downloadable title.
It's also plain to see why Weapon Shop may have taken so long to reach Western audiences: There is a lot of text in this game, and it is expertly translated. For a game to rely on humor so, it is important to not only a coherent, but witty translation, and thankfully took the time and effort to make it happen. The heroes the player will meet still have their unique quirks and accents, and the jokes and jabs are still very much there, and relevant to RPG fans regardless of the differences between Japanese and Western cultures.
Since the focus of the Weapon Shop de Omasse is in fact working as a blacksmith, you'll spend a good part of the game making weapons to lend to customers. Making the weapons is a rhythm based affair; tap the metal along to the tune that's playing and at the same time your master does, and you'll eventually create a new weapon to rent out. Just tapping the big block of hot metal won't be very effective, however. You also have to hit the metal in the right place; starting on the outside and working in gives shape to the weapons faster, and hitting the metal in the same location over and over will eventually do nothing. You also must flip and rotate the metal as needed to get to the edges of particulary long weapons, and also have the ability to heat up the metal (making it easier to mold into a weapon, but lowers its overall durability) and cool it down with water once the weapon is complete.
All of these small quirks must be taken into account when making a weapon; if not, the weapon will have decreased stats and will not do as well as it should in battle. It's important to try to make a "Master" class weapon, but unfortunately the precision needed to make such a weapon is remarkably hard to even figure out, let alone actually do. Making the best weapons requires knowing exactly what the weapon looks like and where to hit the metal, as well as being completely aligned with the music. It makes for a somewhat frustrating task, even if "Sharp" weapons are enough to get the heroes through their quests; the mere fact that you aren't doing well enough at making weapons is enough to irk any rhythm or RPG fan's nerves.
When you rent one of these weapons out to the various heroes of Weapon Shop, you can watch their progress along their quests via the Grindcast. The Grindcast is very similar to Twitter, really; the heroes spout out their thoughts throughout their journies, complete with the random, uncensored nature a social network like Twitter tends to bring out in people. It's also here that the characters' personalities really get to shine, as we learn about their individual stories and quirks, and watch them battle fearsome (and some rather unfearsome) foes. The Grindcast may not be the meat of the gameplay itself, but it's certainly what makes creating all those weapons worthwhile.
Given the focus on the Grindcast, however, main heroes' quests are awkwardly spread out, and tend to leave a lot of downtime on the service, or times when you're struggling with keeping up with three main quests going at the same time. It's rather boring when you're trying to speed up time, wishing for one of the many "Pending" orders to come in and begin their quests, or trying to see the resolution of a quest in between other stories and NPCs coming in to bug you to rent more weapons. It's understandable that you are given some time to craft a good weapon for the quests ahead, but it's sometimes a but too much time, leaving you to try to speed up the clock while watching Yuhan looking just about as bored as you are.
You can also lend weapons out to NPCs, which will go on more generic quests (of your choosing). Having the NPCs go on these quests allow you to give your weapons more experience, as well as gain special items to add to your weapons before creating them. You can also watch these quests on the Grindcast, but as you would expect from an NPC, their dialogue is rather generic and will start to repeat itself after a while. However, the items and experience tend to be worth it until near the end of the game, so it's worth sitting through the boring Grindcast dialogue in order to make current and subsequent weapons stronger.
If a hero or NPC happens to fail a quest, they lose the the rented weapon and the shop does not get the rental fee. It's a pretty steep punishment, considering that you can lose a weapon due to an unlucky hit, but for the most part if you give a hero matching their quest and level, they won't fail. NPCs tend to fail semi-randomly, though for the most part giving them the appropriate weapon at the right level will get the generic characters home as well. There are times when you can only give a character a lower leveled weapon; in those cases, you have to give them the best weapon you can and hope for the best.
Weapon Shop de Omasse ultimately has a fun, interesting promise, but the game's flaws really bring the title down. What's supposed to be a light-hearted title becomes just a bit monotonous and grind-y, and the reward for making all of these weapons isn't readily apparent. Weapon Shop has a lot of charm, but charm only gets so far when the actual gameplay doesn't stack up.