Japanese indie developer Level-5 is the reigning champion of weird games. Between the Professor Layton series and the recently localized Inazuma Eleven, the Japanese developer’s attempts at genre crossovers and unorthodox ideas have paid off, both in artistic value and sales. Among the slew of 3DS eShop releases after this Feburary’s Nintendo Direct was a Level-5 release called Weapon Shop de Omasse, which was part of a collection of games released two years ago in Japan.
The game is a rhythm-based RPG weapon shop simulator. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. Alright. You play as a blacksmith’s apprentice, and the main gameplay mechanic is forging weapons to rent out to heroes, so they can complete their quests. When you forge weapons, you increase their stats by tapping the screen in rhythm to a song. Along with this, you can polish weapons, add materials to boost their stats, and manage which ones you rent to different customers.
With all the combinations of weapons, materials, and customers that you deal with in the game, it seems like there’d be a lot of strategy involved, but that’s somewhat of a facade in Omasse. At the end of the day, you really just have to choose the right weapon for the customer, since it’s pretty much impossible to mess up when forging weapons. The penalties are anything but harsh. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fun game, but those looking to optimize their shop and spend time analyzing numbers to do so will be a left out a bit. You’re standing in a shallow pool with this one.
Thematically, this game is wacky. Just think about the concept; why would someone make a game about this? Level-5 is completely aware that this idea is weird as heck, and it comes across in the game’s dialogue and cutscenes. Even the intro sequence parodies old DOS RPGs, and there’s even a sarcastic laughtrack that pops up at times. The customers that come in to rent weapons are always hilarious, and it’s very clear the team had a great time fleshing out this game. Omasse is a great example of how a game can be thematically expanded and not necessarily well-written. The dialogue is funny but some jokes just don’t work too well, and the rare character ends up being more annoying than memorable.
This was a tough one for me to review. There’s not a lot of content for players to enjoy, but what’s there is…decent, at the very least. But I can’t stop debating in my head if this game is really worth $7.99 for most people. If I’m debating whether or not a title deserves a measly price of 8 bucks (especially a game that’s made by a professional developer and has been available in another country for a while), I think I’ve answered my own question. Don’t stay away from Omasse–not if you think the gameplay mechanic sounds cool and you don’t mind the lack of a challenge. Just don’t look forward to it. You’ll probably end up with the tinge of disappointment I felt.
Weapon Shoppe de Omasse was reviewed on the 3DS platform, with a review code provided by the developer. For more information on how Indie Game Insider conducts reviews, check out our review policy.