Weapon Shop de Omasse Review: A wonderfully meta experience
You have to give credit to the folks behind the wonderful Guild games on the 3DS. Each of them are wildly different from one another, offering glimpses at various gameplay styles, and all at a very affordable price. The only one absent from the full set was Weapon Shop de Omasse, a game so wonderfully meta and so full of character, it's almost not surprising that it took this long for the game to make it over here. Still, I'm glad it finally did.
There have been a few cases where RPGs and JRPGs took you out of hero's shoes, and instead made you a secondary character. You're not saving the world directly per se, but instead you're contributing to the hero that is. Games like Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale or the more recent Kickstarter You Are Not The Hero are shining examples of this type of gameplay. Now if you took out the adventuring parts of Recettear and instead added a rhythm game and a laugh track, you would more or less have Weapon Shop de Omasse.
Weapon Shop has you running a family owned smithy where heroes and adventure seekers come to rent out expertly forged weapons. That's right, rent. Unlike the weapon shops we've come to know from other RPGs, here heroes rent weapons essentially for free, and only pay the fee once the weapon is returned. If that sounds like a bad deal, that's because it is, but therein lies Weapon Shop's terrific formula.
You're given the option to make a slew of weapons, from daggers and shortswords to spears, clubs and more. Every person who comes in and requests a weapon has a proficiency with a weapon type as well as a certain level. It's important to match each person with the right weapon and weapon level, because their success in quests relies heavily on them using it effectively. Once they return from their quest (hopefully) you get the rental fee as well as EXP points to the weapon, which will level up through continued use.
Here is an example scenario. A panicked NPC will run in and ask to rent a weapon that can help him complete a quest. You see the NPC is only level 1 and has a proficiency in daggers. If you don't have one on hand, you will most likely have to turn him down in hopes that he'll return later (though sometimes they'll give you time to create it until they return). Once you give them the weapon, you also might be able to choose one of three quests for them that differ in level requirement. You could go one of two routes here. Take the safest option, and have him do a level 1 quest, and have a high chance of reaping smaller rewards. However, if you send him on a tougher quest, the rewards and EXP gained will be even higher, and your weapon get better even faster.
Of course, you're constantly working against a timer. At some point, the Final Boss will be unleashed, and by that time, you have to have made a bunch of weapons, and hopefully leveled them up enough for the heroes to take him down.
When it comes to actually making the weapons, it's a relatively simple yet fun rhythm game. A slab of hot steel is laid down before you and you must beat it to the shape of the weapon to the specified beat. You'll occasionally have to heat the metal back up and then cool it down by the end, but it's all extremely easy, and won't even require you to be rhythm game proficient to get a hang of it.
Weapon Shop is meta down to its core. It's extremely self referential, down to making fun of many JRPG tropes. Aside from a ton of non-important NPCs stopping by your store actually named NPC A, NPC B, etc., the bulk of the game's hilarity and progression stems from the important hero characters. Their quests always come with slightly deeper storylines and will incite more than just a chuckle from you. Whether it's the clumsy twin performers who just want their family heirloom back, or the dashing hero who gets far more credit for deeds he's done than he deserves, or the elderly grandma who searches for her husband while fighting off packs of angry monsters, they're all hilarious.
And how do you follow these stories while you're in the Shop? Why Grindcast, of course. Think of Grindcast as that universe's Twitter, except Grindcast is crafted into each weapon, allowing its user to broadcast their adventures for others. Through Grindcast, you can see each NPC's interaction with monsters and other NPCs as well as overhear their conversations, which often results in very hilarious situations.
All of these elements combined make Weapon Shop de Omasse one of the funniest games on the 3DS. Sure it might not have the emotional impact of Attack of the Friday Monsters or the twitch gameplay of Liberation Maiden, but it will make you smile and maybe have a deeper appreciation of all those Weapon Shop owners we passed along in our gaming careers, who made us a better hero on our adventure.