Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale (PC) Review

The Short


Pros

– A fun hybrid of shop management and action RPG questing

– The translation is surprisingly entertaining and appropriately silly

– Taking heroes on quests only to sell the best stuff they find back to them at 300% markup is pretty great

– A surprisingly long RPG quest campaign with multiple adventurers, dungeons, and secrets to find

– I sold month-old egg on toast for a thousand bucks. Take that, economy!

Cons

– Selling items becomes a bit formulaic; most new shop-related stuff (custom orders, etc.) show up early and don’t introduce anything new later on

– Dungeons can be a grind for XP and items, and the limited bag space (which is upgradable) is a chore

– Music is fun at first, intolerable in large quantities

– Recette’s Japanese exclamations when she does anything are incredibly obnoxious

– I pressed “Esc –> Skip Scene” more in this game than maybe any to date

– Made me feel like the Wal-Mart of the fantasy world when I would only sell severely marked up junk to housewives just before the market crashed and everybody was poor

– I hate little girls

Capitalism, ho, indeed.

The Long

Let me play a scenario out for you. Let’s say you go to a store with intent to buy something, like a hat. You’ve gone to this store lots of times, and seen the hat in the window, so you know the exact price or at least an estimate of the price. So when you prepare to leave, you bring the amount of money you’d expect to buy the item with, right? No? You’d just bring like fifty cents and then complain when they didn’t mark down a five-hundred dollar item down to match your level?

Congratulations, you are now the little girl from Recettear. I should put a sign on the door that says “No little girls, ever.” We sell weapons in here, for crying out loud! One little girl wanted to roll out with a freaking Crystal Sword +6! I’m gonna get fined out the ass if that happens!

And that, in a nutshell, is Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale on PC. Little girls showing up, demanding low prices, and whining. Same with old grandpas. Recettear: Screw the young and the elderly.

I wish you were dead.

Recette has a problem. Her dad just up and decided one day to become an adventurer, and since this is a JRPG Recette only has one parent. Next thing she knows he’s just left her at home with his massive amount of debt, and then got killed by a dragon or something. I dunno, I couldn’t be bothered to read all the text.

Anyway, Tear, some jerk-bag fairy, is with the collections agency and needs this absurd quantity of money paid off. Why she didn’t bother to come earlier rather than like two months before the deadline is beyond me, but I guess it make the game more stressful that way. So you have to meet weekly increments to pay off this outstanding loan your jerk dad accrued, while having a shizzy job, getting trash talked by the elderly, other store owners, and basically everybody in town, and just trying to sell the damn toast back so you can make a minimal profit on it.

Basically, Recette is a generational trying to pay off the debt they accrued by going to college because their parents told them it would be ok, and now gets blamed for being lazy and useless because she sits around the house all day selling candy instead of “getting a real job.” So, in all honesty, it’s a parable for our times.

Where was I going with this? I dunno. I sit at home playing video games because I want to, dang it! Now leave me alone, mom! When my YouTube channel gets big, you’ll see who is laughing then!

I even marked it down to 50% what I paid for it, and the little twit couldn’t afford it. BOOKS BE PRICEY, YO. GET A KINDLE.

Recettear is a fusion between two genres. In that sense, it kind of reminds me of Persona 3 and 4. The first portion of the game is in the title: selling stuff. It’s pretty easy to make money in the game, as every store in town sells stuff for under it’s base value, and you can usually get at least at 10-30% markup on that junk by just turning around and selling it. It’s like that jerk at the flea markets who goes and buys all the good stuff from the other vendors really early, then slaps labels on them and makes a mint throughout the day. You are that person. Or rather, Recette is. She’s a soulless creature driven only by capitalistic urges.

But the real bucks come in market fluctuations. Remember that Sword of Pure Pwnage +239 that you bought for a fat price yesterday? Well too bad, idiot, because the market here bounces more than an ADHD kid in a bounce house, and now it’s worth nothing. But don’t worry, all those almond breads you’ve been hording are now worth triple value! Slap them on the shelves and giggle with glee as starving mothers have to pay absurd amounts of money for a candied apple!

The market fluctuations are pretty much guesswork, but a simple strategy also works well: buy low, sell high. Or buy medium, sell high. Just always sell high. If stuff isn’t high, then go do something else, or just be sure to stock up on massive amounts of inventory. Or just stock your store with only books and see who shows up. You’ll be out of business faster than you can say “Borders Books.”

SOMEONE PLEASE BUY THESE FREAKING WANDS.

The other half of the game is the adventuring. See, you’re in a JRPG world, which means dungeon crawling for items with a limited bag to carry them in. There’s a wide assortment of heroes you have to unlock via traditional or untraditional means. You have your generic swordsman guy, a thief girl, an elf archer girl, a punching monk, some airheaded spear lancer chick, a demon mage, an obnoxious whiny boy child, and a robot. Pretty much all they needed was a dog and they’d have covered all the JRPG basics. Maybe in future DLC.

Questing is simple and is done in the Secret of Mana style of action RPGing. You run around and stab/shoot/kill stuff on each floor, picking up precious XP and loot before going to the next one. Every five floors is a boss, and after you kill it you can either bail on the dungeon or keep going deeper. If you die, however, you can only take one item back rather than your full bag, so be careful! Luckily you can bring all that super-expensive junk you bought for your store that is now worth nothing because of the market crash, and the heroes can borrow them so they don’t suck. Don’t worry, you get it back after, and can sell it to them directly at massively inflated prices to save you time. Friends exist to be abused, people!

I’ll take a hundred.

The other Persona similarity is the time management. You have four blocks of time in a day. During these you can either open shop, go scour the town for hot deals, or go adventuring. You only have a week to meet Tear’s rapidly increasing demands, so being certain you don’t screw around during your day is essential.

I will say this: there is something exhilarating about making absurd amounts of money. I discovered pretty quickly that I’m da bomb at this game. Most of the time when debt collection came around I had more than double what was asked, the later ones having me have not just enough for that debt, but the debt after as well. I guess I was really good at taking advantage of the sudden metal shortage, selling that junk sword I bought when swords were more common than toothpicks like it was freaking Excalibur.

The main issue I have with Recettear is no one point is particularly…well, fun. Is it engaging? Absolutely. Addicting? No doubt. But like grinding around in the dungeons in Persona, nothing was every quite good enough for me to be in love with it. When I was adventuring I wished I was back at the shop. When I was selling stuff at massively engorged prices…well, I was having a good time, but at the back of my mind I kept thinking about my inventory and when I’d need to go adventuring again. Not to mention if you miss custom orders because the bozos didn’t bother to show up during the one block of time you were open, they’ll come chew you out as if it is your fault and they couldn’t just pick up the damn thing now since it’s just the next day and if you really wanted your freaking three foodstuffs you would have showed up in the morning when we were open.

Pictured: A huge mooch.

At least there’s lots of dungeons to keep you sated, even if their mileage may vary depending on how much you like repetition. Expect enemy pallet swaps a-plenty, with bees and bouncing mushrooms being the worst enemies to try and hit ever. Mixing up heroes keeps things a bit fresh, but since they start low leveled it’s much easier to just commit to one person (read: the fast thief girl) and just take her the whole way. They’re randomized, which is also a good thing, but tedium can set in once you get in a groove. Still, it’s just as good as any other game where the whole game is dedicated to the crawling, and Recettear comes with a bonus Wal-Mart simulator, so I suppose I can’t fault it too heavily.

Point being: it’s fun, yes, but also a bit of a grind. Like many Japanese games, they’re addictive by nature, but rely heavily on your tolerance for repetition in order for them to be fun. You could argue it’s an analogy for the repetitive nature of Capitalism, where we just keep working and working, making more and more money to make more and  more money, all in some fruitless attempt to meet some society-created goal that will never, ever tell us when we are finished, leaving us an an endless loop of dissatisfaction until we’re all dead.

Recetetear has that too. It’s called “Endless Mode.”

It’s just not the same without Recette screaming “AYEEE?!” because she swapped out a bread roll with a beef bowl on her display.

Graphically the game is dated, but you probably won’t notice it. Honestly, this would be a great PSP (or now Vita or 3DS game), because it’s low-graphics and perfectly suited for quick bursts of play. As a PC game it’s a bit grainy, the sprites repeating and generally looking a little old (but it’s an old game, so that’s ok). The enemies have a massive graphical inconstancy, with hand-drawn pixel sprites alongside awful polygonally rendered knight creatures. It’s like they just looted a bunch of other games and tossed them all in for their enemies. Alright.

The music is whimsical and generally unoffensive, but it will drive you insane due to the repetition. I found myself putting on some sort of metal soundtrack when I went through the dungeons (Nightwish works pretty good) and some Bob Marley when I was opening up the shop.

Oh yeah, there’s voice clips, and they’re all in Japanese. Again: cute at first, annoying after repetition.

Welcome to Applestop, would you like to pre-order a Granny Smith?

I might have sounded a bit harsh on Recettear, so let me end by saying this: it’s a cute little game with a funny premise and great, addicting gameplay. Those looking for more depth in their RPGs (or shop keeping games) might want to look elsewhere, but if you’re a fan of JRPGs, the Persona series, or Wal-Mart’s power scooters, Recettear is a game for you. The story is silly (and text heavy…), the game whimsical, and loaded with enough to do to last you several dozen hours at least. Considering this game’s usually on sale for like $5 on Steam, you could do a lot worse. Like, a lot worse. Have you seen the indie games on there? Get this instead.

Now port it to a portable device, where it belongs. Capitalism, ho!

Four out of five stars. 

So…is his porn collection in the soup, or…?

Author: Nathan Major

Spirit Shark: Hammerhead. Retro game collector, true ginger, and SNES fanatic. Goal in life is to become Karnov from the NES game Karnov.

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1 Comment

  1. Buy low, sell high, kill monsters for their egg toast. What’s not to love?

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