Archive for 2011

GotM – Recettear

Shop sims have always interested me. A long, long time ago (I was… well, let’s just say this was around ’92), I was fascinated by an edutainment store simulator I remember only as “Bentley Bear’s Store”. I would play this game nonstop when I would get a chance, at a computer learning camp I attended through early elementary school. (Googling does not bring up the game, although it does indicate Bentley Bear was the main character in Crystal Castles – no help).

In this ancient shop simulation, you would buy various items (clothes, appliances, and so on) at a base price, and sell these items at a markup, arranging them in your store to draw in customers. You could even visit the nearby department huge store to view their prices, and undercut them slightly to draw in more people. I think there was even an initial debt to repay.

After I stopped going to that computer camp, I simply stopped playing the game. It was sort of interesting, but back then the internet was a mere fledgling of what it is now, and I doubt that the halls of AOL or Compuserve would have had any information on it regardless.

Recettear is the modern Bentley Bear’s Store. Known long-form as “An Item Shop’s Tale”, Recettear is the poster child for translation of Japanese indie (often called “doujin”) games. Much like the store-sim game of my youth, in Recettear you purchase items from either a Guild Shop or the global Marketplace, and sell them at a negotiated markup (that markup often depending upon the willingness of the customer in question to haggle). You arrange them in the store in such a way as to draw in customers, and later you can even design the walls, floor, and counters of your store to attract specific kinds.

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In Which I Dwell on PAX East

I had the opportunity and motivation to go to PAX East this year – one I think I took full advantage of, more so than either attendance of Prime thus far – and it was a blast. Took first place in an Earth Defense Force tourney (thereafter referred to as “The Blue Guy” due to my stylish DQ9 shirt and Junpei hat), my team took 3rd in a 64-team League of Legends tourney (my main account is lv 24/30, indicating I don’t play enough to deserve it) and overall had a great time.

I’d apologize for not covering it yet (after all, it’s been three whole weeks!), but honestly I doubt enough people read it who care.  Might sound a little crazy, but this is more an outlet for myself – writing on my own interests – than out of a particular desire to share, which is a nice enough side effect.

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9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors

I know, I know – two posts in rapid succession.  Separate topics.

We don’t get visual novels much over here.  In fact, even one of the most popular ones to come out of Japan, Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, is fan translated but still has only a niche following.  Granted – it’s too large for me to get very far into even the second chapter of four – and that doesn’t count the “Chiru” chapters.  Many VNs have been translated, but the genre just hasn’t caught on in “official” channels.

Aksys, however, has (in their wisdom) granted us the chance to experience a fantastic sample of the genre on DS.  It has some great artwork, a thrilling plot, and some pretty cool puzzles to solve.  It deserves support, and you deserve to play it.

Unlike Umineko, 9/9/9 is very easy to get into.  After all – there are only nine characters and nine doors.  How complicated could it be?  The game certainly took me longer than nine hours, but I went through it five separate times.  Yes, I went through it five separate times and I just complained about not having enough time to play RPGs.  That’s because the writing in this game puts RPGs – or at least, the ones I’ve been playing recently – to shame.

Final Fantasy XIII, for example – for all the effort they put into deliberately wrenching around the player emotionally and intertwining the backgrounds of every single character – has awful characters.  9/9/9 is how all plot-centered games should be written; gradually getting to know the characters bit by bit.  This doesn’t mean finding out their life story, or even their hidden eccentricities – it means getting a feel for how they react to situations, how they start plotting against the other “players”, and so on.

I only have two complaints about this game.  The first is that text is incredibly slow the first time through, so I think my DS’s A button has nearly worn out.  Second, the requirements for getting the “intended” endings are not hinted at.  I accidentally got the least conclusive ending the first time through, and I was initially convinced all of them were that bland.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

To conclude my meandering proto-review: play this game.


RPGs for those on a time budget

More than two years ago, I put together a post for videolamer about short RPGs.  It’s a constant problem: my favorite genre is totally dominated by games that are built to take weeks or months at the pace I play.

So what’s the solution?  I could continually start up RPGs and quit halfway through, like I have been doing with MS Saga and Arc Rise Fantasia… or I could find games of a more accommodating size.

I’ve found (or rediscovered) a few more that can rightfully join the list:

All of these come highly recommended.  Anyone who’s been reading this blog knows that TSE2 was one of my favorite indie games before it went freeware.  Space Funeral’s seen high rankings (but perhaps not enough actual traffic – seriously, the game can be finished in an afternoon), although it’s not *terribly* RPGish.  Finally, SaGa2 DS is a great remake of the best Game Boy RPG.  Can’t speak for the translation, but given that the original game had a good official translation (bananas and adultery aside), it should be solid.  I’m still hoping for official localization of SaGa3 DS, since it was just released – but if Squenix isn’t going to bring over the better one, why bring it over?