Weapon Shop de Omasse (3DS) Review
Kalvin Martinez / Mar 11th, 2014 No Comments
Weapon Shop de Omasse is a rhythm-RPG for the Nintendo 3DS via 3DS eShop. Level-5 and Nex Entertainment developed the game with comedian Yoshiyuki Hirai writing. Weapon Shop de Omasse is the final game from Level-5’s Guild01 series. The game was noticeably absent from the initial Western release of the Guild01 games. Its release in North America was dubious due to the high amount of translation required in localizing the product and questionable market. However, after successful releases of the initial Guild01 games and the recent Guild02 games (The Starship Damrey and Attack of the Friday Night Monsters), Level-5 released the game along with the US release of Inazuma Eleven recently on the 3DS eShop. Created as a love letter to the RPG genre, the game focuses on the unsung hero of RPGs, the weapon merchant, who must smith and rent weapons to intrepid heroes determined to vanquish evil. If there is one common thread among Level-5’s Guild games, it has been great ideas with varying levels of execution. However, Weapon Shop de Omasse is the most realized and polished Guild game. It succeeds thanks to the funny, engrossing and smart writing with some interesting mechanics and excellent music.
Many years have passed since heroes defeated the Evil Lord and now he is returning. The fear caused by the Evil Lord’s return caused a scarcity of materials, skyrocketing the cost of weapons. Heroes still needed weapons to protect themselves on quests and to defeat the Evil Lord, Yuhan (a young weapon shop apprentice), came up with the solution: rent weapons to heroes. Yuhan and his master, Oyaji re-open their weapon shop with the mission of renting weapons to heroes and payment is only taken when a hero successfully returns from a quest. Thus, Yuhan and Oyaji have a huge incentive to craft high quality weapons that fit customers’ quests and strengths because they need that paper. Word spreads quickly about this innovative new weapon shop and shortly thereafter many heroes start patronizing the shop. The heroes run the spectrum from a pompous Frenchman, to a spineless samurai, to a lovesick swash buckler, to a burly and fabulous drag queen and many more. These heroes have their own troubles that only Yuhan’s weapons can solve. As Yuhan continues to rent weapons to these heroes, he begins to understand and learn what makes each hero tick. He must evaluate each of these heroes to determine which one is capable of wielding the ultimate weapon and stopping the Evil Lord once more.
The writing in Weapon Shop de Omasse is fantastic. While the overall plot plays it straight as an RPG tale of good versus evil, the dialogue and interactions between Yuhan, Oyaji and the multiple heroes are hilarious. The game splits plot between weapon shop interactions before and after a quest and the quest itself, which happens through the grindcast. The quests often have a good number of jokes that make checking them out when not crafting weapons worthwhile. Weapon Shop de Omasse is full of clever RPG references that will cause RPG fans to grin. The game milks so much charm out of these great in-references. While the writing is funny, the multiple story lines work on their own too. One in particular that involves Yuhan, Oyaji and Grandma Snow is excellent and adds some depth to those characters. The best part of the multiple story lines is when it becomes obvious that each one is fitting together with the others to tell the larger tale of how the Evil Lord intends to resurrect himself.
Your main job in Weapon Shop de Omasse is crafting weapons to rent out to questing heroes. To accomplish this task, players have access to a number of different weapon types, weapon levels and materials to craft weapons. As heroes embark on tougher quests, you are able to craft stronger weapons. The actual act of crafting a weapon involves hammering a giant piece of metal into the final weapon’s shape. When in crafting mode, players need to wait for perfect heat to get the most out of hammering the metal, which is indicated when the bar at the bottom of the screen is red. Perfect heat nets the most bonuses for rhythmic strikes. Once the perfect heat occurs, players will get a beat and a number of symbols at the top of the screen. Hitting the metal in time with the beat and clearing symbols gives the weapon extra strength and chaining hits makes the weapon even stronger. One huge caveat to striking a weapon, reaching the final shape and gaining bonuses through chains is you cannot strike the same space twice. Hitting the same spot again results in a miss and wastes chains and heat. This is an issue since the 3DS touch screen is not hugely precise, often you’ll hit the same spot without meaning to hit it. Crafting weapons is an exercise in precision, rhythm and speed as the heat rapidly cools while you craft.
Once a weapon is crafted, it gains bonuses in a number of areas based on performance. Crafting good weapons results from superb performances. It is important to craft the best weapons possible because the other gameplay aspect is pairing weapons to a NPC or heroes quest. Whether a hero or NPC succeeds is the direct result of what weapon you rent them for their quest. Heroes and NPCs all have a level and weapon type they excel in using. Further, each weapon has three stats: slice, pierce and club. Any given enemy is weak to one of those aspects when undertaking quests. So matching the right weapon type, weapon level and weapon strengths for a quests factors into if a hero is successful. You want them to succeed because weapons gain experience and level up for victories and failing a quests results in a lost weapon. Losing weapons is bad because it negatively affects the end of day shop score and if a powerful weapon is lost then it is unable to be rented to future customers. There is a good deal of interesting mechanics at play in Weapon Shop de Omasse. Many of them have to do with the business sim-y aspects because the rhythm based gameplay is a bit loose to be fully satisfying.
Graphics and Sound
Visually there is a good amount of polish to Weapon Shop de Omasse. When looking at games on the 3DS, it is easy to tell when a game will look good or not. It comes down to the scope of a game. Weapon Shop de Omasse is not a short or minor game by any means, but everything remains self contained. The only environment that characters exist in or travel to is the Weapon Shop. So it allowed the developers to focus on making the weapon shop look distinctive and have a personality. Since character’s quests are reported back to the weapon shop in text format via the grindcast, crafting good looking character models for weapon shop interactions is easy. Each character has a distinctive look, personality and style. The look of the character feeds into the writing and the writing in turns makes the character feel dynamic. The game’s structure allows for some great looking visual elements.
The game has some great music. It matches the tone and style of the game extremely well in many spots. In other spots, it feels like it should belong in an AAA JRPG out of the late 90s. There is plenty of attention on every level of the game to make it feel like a tried and true RPG. The issue with sound comes with the game’s use of audience ad-libs. It makes the game feel like a bad multi-camera sitcom from ABC’s TGIF line-up replete with canned laughing, boos and hisses, etc. The game’s humor works on its own. The sound effects are trying to hard to sell something that works on face value. The other issue is that while the music is great, the integration with the rhythm gameplay never congeals in a coherent manner. It seems like the music is inconsequential to anything specific when crafting weapons.
Weapon Shop de Omasse is a great 3DS eShop game and the best of Level-5’s Guild series. The writing is funny and tells a clever story through multiple weaving story lines, while also serving as a great love letter to the RPG genre. The gameplay has some highlights, but crafting weapons, the bulk of gameplay is a bit gummy and not as satisfying as the business sim aspects. Weapon Shop de Omasse is a good looking game full of colorful and eccentric characters. The music is great yet doesn’t integrate as well to the rhythm gameplay aspects and the sound effects are distracting. Weapon Shop de Omasse is well worth the price and is an eShop game RPG aficionados should definitely check out.
tags: 3ds , eShop , Guild , Guild01 , Level-5 , Nintendo 3DS , review , Weapon Shop de Omasse