Monday, January 5, 2015

First Impressions (Of Sorts): Weapon Shop de Omasse (3DS)

"In the world of RPGs, many heroes arise, but someone's got to make their weapons."  That's the tagline and hook for the 3DS eShop game, Weapon Shop de Omasse from developers, Level-5 (Professor Layton series).  The premise is a pretty simple one and is stated in the tagline: you are a blacksmith (actually the apprentice to the blacksmith) and are making weapons in a village during a typical JRPG setting: in that the Dark Lord has returned after being defeated 50 years prior.  It's your job to create the weapons (which vary among daggers, swords, spears, axes, katanas and the like).

I credit in large part my history with "traditional" JRPGs such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior/Quest and Paladin's Quest for easily falling into this game, similar to how I was able to buy into the gameplay and aesthetic of Witch and Hero. If you aren't immediately okay with the idea that there is an absolute evil and that there are people out questing AND that the game makes light of this common convention, then this probably won't be the game for you.

Gameplay is a mix between overly simplified blacksmith simulation crossbred with a rhythm game with a bit of multitasking (keeping the temperature of the metal between the correct temperature) thrown in for good measure.  You also have to keep track of your blacksmithing materials, which weapons you have already created and who has which weapon out on a quest.

There are also some rather divergent elements to this game that are not a part of most RPGs.You are in charge of selecting the proper weapon for your customers which means looking at the weakness of the monster they are going after along with their personal preference for a certain type of weapon.  You are also in charge of polishing the weapons after they are made and when they return in order, I think, to help level up the weapons.  The most "different" thing is that weapons are rented as opposed to sold.  It sounds very odd, and even the characters in-game comment on how odd this is for a village blacksmith in an RPG game to be doing, but that's one of the game mechanics and it works pretty well.

There have been times between customers coming into the store that I wish I had time to craft some of the newly available weapons (due to new materials coming into the shop), but the store is just too busy.  Then there's downtime, which is something that exists in nearly every job.  I have created all the weapons that I needed to, all the weapons have been polished, the store is stocked with enough materials for additional smithing if need be. . . there's just nothing to do.  So your character just hangs around the store while you, the player, reads from the Grindcast (a twitterfeed-type device that lets you read about what the heros/NPCs are doing while they're out with one of the weapons they've rented from your store.

Presently, I've put almost four hours into this game and while entertained, there hadn't been that moment that often happens in games where you just sit back and are like, "Wow. . . huh."  That happened last night for me.  I had finished crafting a handful of new weapons, some of which came out dull (and I'm still trying to figure out why) and I knew that my (in-game) Grandma was coming by to pick up a weapon for a specific type of enemy.  Well, she showed up a lot sooner than I had thought, but I had just crafted a new type of axe that would give her a 60% chance of success so I rented it to her.  It wasn't until after she left that I went back to polishing some weapons when I realized that I had rented my Grandmother an unpolished weapon.  I felt shame.  That I had let my Grandmother leave a store that her grandchild worked at with an axe that I had failed to make as presentable as possible (I am just a little bit afraid that she's going to bring this fact up when she returns the weapon).  That was when I knew for sure that this game had it's proverbial hooks in me.

There is still a lot that I have not covered (artwork, music, spoken dialogue, written script, more in depth of the Grindcast, et cetera) and that will have to wait for the Full Review to come whenever I finish the game, which will definitely happen.  The game, unfortunately, is no longer on sale through the eShop, but I would have been happy if I had paid full price, even though the fact that it was on sale is what made me purchase the game, but if you're still on the fence, the demo is available and gives a great example of what the rest of the game would play like.  I highly recommend it.


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