Weapon Shop de Omasse is the fourth game in the Guild 01 compilation which also includes Liberation Maiden, Aero Porter and Crimson Shroud. “But wait!” you exclaim. “Didn’t they already come out with Guild 02?” Yes, they did. But Weapon Shop de Omasse was glossed over due to the niche nature of the title and how much text would have to be translated in order for it to be released internationally. Having now experienced it, I can definitely see where the hesitation comes in.
As you may have guessed from the title, Weapon Shop de Omasse is about a shop that sells weapons. More specifically, one that sells weapons to heroes and NPC’s. The game opens with an amusing sequence that mimics the older Dragon Quest games for the NES. The hero finally defeats the final boss and brings peace to the land, only to realize that as time passes, evil will rise again. This game is not about those heroes though. It’s about the simple folks that craft their weapons. And that’s where you come in.
A young man and his mentor are trying to earn business in an already crowded weapon shop market supplying goods to would be heroes. They surmise that in order to stand out, they would need to offer a new business model: weapon rental. A customer comes in, is given a weapon, and they pay nothing until it is returned. Doesn’t seem like a formula for success, especially when nothing is paid up front. But the reasoning is that if the weapon breaks or the hero doesn’t succeed in their quest, then they didn’t do their job properly. And Omasse is a store that stands behind their work.
The basic flow of the game works like this: A customer walks into the store and demands a specific kind of weapon. As the clerk, you have to give them a weapon that matches their needs. The character has a level, a preference in weapon affinity, and also the level of the quest they would like to embark on. The idea is to give them a weapon that closely matches their level and/or the level of the quest they are going on, while accounting for the weaknesses of the monsters they’ll be fighting. If you don’t match them up right, not only will you lose the weapon, but you won’t get paid.
If this all sounds very much like Recettear to you, then you had the same idea that I did. However, unlike Recettear, you won’t be doing any dungeon crawling of your own. When you’re not helping customers, you’ll be crafting weapons, polishing weapons, ordering materials or listening in on the progress of your clients. And you only have until the return of the Evil Lord to perfect your craft enough to design a weapon strong enough to best him, tracked with an onscreen meter.
As odd as it sounds, the actual weapon crafting functions like that of a rhythm game. Once you’ve decided on a weapon that you plan to make, you can apply any additional materials to it to further boost its innate abilities, or add some sort of element to it (fire, ice, etc). Then the game will show you what the finished product needs to look like and gives you a big hunk of molten metal to work with. The music will start to play and it’s up to you to tap along with the rhythm. In doing so, you must make sure that you tap in the right places to shape the metal, otherwise you’ll get a big black X and screw up your combo. The song continues until the weapon has fully taken shape and then you can dunk it in water to end the round.
Some of the later weapons will take longer to construct and thus will likely cool down before you are finished. If this happens, you have to use your coal supply to heat the weapon back up (the music doesn’t stop, mind you) and continue crafting. When you’re completely done, you’re awarded scores based on your performance, which in turn determines the overall effectiveness of the weapon.
After you get done crafting a weapon, or when one is returned to you, you can polish it to raise its effectiveness further. This involves wiping it down with the touchscreen until it sparkles, flipping it over, and then doing it again. Each time this is done it adds a +1 to the item name and enhances its statistics.
You’ll get two flavors of customers in your shop. Regulars are actually unique and have some sort of backstory to them that requires them to come to your shop on a regular basis. They will gain levels as the game goes on and will require stronger and stronger weapons each time they visit (though they’ll tell you ahead of time what they need so you have time to make it for them). They’ll also reveal more about themselves as time goes on too, which becomes the primary vehicle for the game’s exposition. There’s an assortment of random NPC’s that stop in too and will take any old weapon you have sitting on the shelf. They also have a selection of missions they can take on that are assigned by the player, which may lead to them bringing back materials for further construction. These will be a large source of your income.
Each weapon you sell has a device installed in it that allows you to track their progress via the Grindcast. These progression updates come in the form of Twitter-like posts complete with hash tags that communicate the thoughts of the character as well as the battle logs for their fights. This feature alone is probably the best aspect of the game as well as the reason I completely understood why Level 5 almost skipped this game entirely. The Grindcast has A LOT of text, and very little of it seems to repeat itself (save for some of the random NPC’s). It’s also very humorous and I found myself distracted by it more often than not when I should have been crafting weapons. Updates will continuously appear on the upper screen, even when you are doing something else, so very rarely will you actual miss an event as it happens.
While not a graphically intensive game by any means (the models are late PS1/early PS2 levels of basic), they certainly aren’t without their charm. Aside from constructing weapons, all that really goes on onscreen is your character walking around the shop and occasionally interacting with patrons. Completing quests will decorate the inside of the store with little trinkets, though it’s a shame there’s no actual customization to be had on the part of the player.
There are a few voiceovers in their native Japanese tongue, but most conversations are going to be of the text variety. That said, much of what you’ll hear aside from the clanking of metal on metal is going to be the songs you play along with, which are rather catchy. The game could have used a few more of them, as they tend to go on repeat more often than not, but most sessions end quickly enough that you don’t get tired of them.
Weapon Shop de Omasse is a really hard game to place in terms of who would really get a kick out of it. The rhythm based gameplay is indeed fun, but is only one aspect of the entire package. It’s also not as challenging as something like a Rock Band Blitz would be, nor does if have the sort of longevity required for repeat playthroughs. Still, if you like weird Japanese games full of humor that likes to poke fun at common JRPG tropes, it’s definitely worth a look.
Short Attention Span Summary
If you were in the market for a goofy, rhythm-based, weapon shop owning simulator from Japan, you are in the right place. Weapon Shop de Omasse takes a page out of the book of Recettear and puts you in charge of supplying the world’s heroes with the weapons they’ll need to defeat the Evil Lord. You must tap along to the beat of the music as you shape your weaponry and hopefully do a good enough job at it that it doesn’t break in battle, causing you to lose out on both the weapon and money. While repetition does set in rather early in the game, the humor that comes from the character interactions and the Grindcast will keep you engaged until you reach the conclusion. It’s not the best game in the Guild 01 collection, though it’s certainly one of the most unique.