By: Matthew Striplen
Ever wonder where the multitudes of weapons come from in medieval-style RPGs? Neither had I until I came across Weapon Shop de Omasse, a unique, genre-bending game. In a war-torn world, weapon materials have become scarce, so the necessity for weapon rental shops arose. Play as the apprentice Yuhan as he struggles to please his customers and create the ultimate weapon to defeat the Evil Lord!
As a blacksmith apprentice, Yuhan’s primary duties involve creating and maintaining weapons. Weapons are forged by selecting the weapon type and special ingredients, whereupon the player will be transported to the anvil. A template of the weapon is briefly flashed before a huge hunk of molten metal lands on the anvil.
To shape the amorphous mass, the player must tap it on the touchscreen in the specific rhythms provided by his master, Oyaji. More on the rhythmic portion later, but I never felt I had a firm handle on how to create a good weapon. The stats seemed more contingent on the special ingredients, unless I messed up really badly. Although the controls did not necessarily provide the results I sought, they were very intuitive.
Weapon Shop isn’t particularly interesting to look at. While the graphics are far from bad, the game’s environment is limited to the shop itself. For spending the entire duration in one location, I would have liked something more detailed. Various decorations can be unlocked, but they do not drastically alter the feel.
I enjoyed the character design, especially the intentionally generic NPCs, until I came to the infamous Mr. Grape Kiss. This man towers over every other character and is a horribly clichéd and borderline offensive transvestite. The back of his outfit is open, so the player will get a spectacular view of ass crack in the final scene of the game. Why? Just why?
The soundtrack and effects are fun and cute but are limited in quantity. Since one of Weapon Shop‘s most important elements is the rhythm portion, I hoped for a more extensive library, but songs started getting recycled after only a few minutes of gameplay. Weapon Shop also has a “live studio audience” that, depending on the situation, reacts with applause, booing or cheering. One silly touch I enjoyed is the fact that nearly every time Oyaji appears, the audience will applaud sitcom-style.
Weapon Shop de Omasse is a game jam packed with numerous genre elements. If I had to sum it up, I would call it a cross between a parodied JRPG, cleaning, Twitter, and a rhythm game. Let’s work through each aspect.
As with most RPGs, Weapon Shop features a multitude of characters and a leveling system. Each character prefers a specific weapon type; i.e. a sword, spear or axe. The character gains a level with every successful mission, which is completely dependent on the weapon quality. Every weapon has a base level and unique stats. Despite that, a weapon gains power with each return, leveling up a weapon takes a very long time and simply forging a new, higher base level one is faster and less likely to result in failed missions. That being said, I rarely failed missions, which is not to say I was particularly good at this game. I would often accidentally give people crappy weapons, only to have them happily return from battle.
Returned weapons, as well as freshly fired ones, need to be polished to obtain the experience points and improved stats. This is done by simply rubbing the blade on the touchscreen until it’s shiny. While totally void of challenge, polishing appealed to my inherent OCD tendencies, making the process addictive and oddly fulfilling.
All characters, excluding NPCs, have their own over-the-top story. Yuhan becomes acquainted with his customers via good ol’ fashioned talking and through the use of the Grindcast, a device embedded in each weapon that records everything. The Grindcast, however, is exactly like reading Twitter, complete with hashtags. Call me technophobic, but I can’t stand hashtags, especially when they’re #nonfunctional.
In order to enjoy Weapon Shop, the player must love reading since the game is insanely text heavy. I spent much more time scrolling through dialogue than anything else. The Grindcast throws an immense amount of information at the player, making it difficult to follow any one story. Unfortunately, the game offers no story-related interactive elements, making gameplay less like a game and more like reading a bizarre kid’s book, 140 characters at a time.
One element that was definitely not child friendly was the inclusion of someone I mentioned earlier: Mr. Grape Kiss. I was disappointed to discover that Mr. Grape’s character followed nearly every gay stereotype, including particularly negative ones. He’s provocatively dressed, sassy and obviously attracted to the underage Yuhan, which is evidenced by his statement that Yuhan should “wait five years” before drinking the immortality elixir. There’s nothing quite like advancing LGBT individuals in gaming like portraying one as a total creeper. Sigh…
As I noted earlier, weapons are created in an awkward, rhythm-game style. Oyaji will make a beat to go along with the soundtrack for Yuhan to copy. Several other elements other than timing are important in forging as well. Placement of strikes and temperature also play a large role, though placement was much more of an issue than the latter. Strikes yield a certain number of stat points, though the numbers seemed random and inconsistent.
Additionally, the stats affected by the forging process are not in the player’s control, though some control is achieved through the material choice. Every weapon has a set of required ingredients, plus at least one additive of the player’s discretion. Any number of stats boosts or special effects can be bestowed this way.
As far as the story goes, sometimes it’s funny, like the NPCs wishing they were more memorable, but more often it is not very compelling. Without giving any spoilers away, I was thoroughly disappointed in the ending, even with the conspicuous inclusion of multiple endings. Few characters made me actually care about them, and it’s possible to play through the entire game without reading a single line of dialogue from the customers.
Weapon Shop de Omasse, while not a great game, is far from the worst I’ve seen. Several currently imperfect elements have tons of potential. A revamped and more detailed forging system along with additional interactive aspects would do it wonders. Although one of the most original games I’ve played in a while, Weapon Shop de Omasse falls short of greatness.