Level 5's Weapon Shop de Omasse shines a spotlight on fantasy gaming's most important character: The blacksmith. After all, without blacksmiths, there would be no sword with which to pierce the dragon's scales, no arrow with which to strike the griffin's heart, no axe with which to hew the zombie's head.
While merchants and blacksmiths are certainly capable of holding their own in battle (Dragon Quest's muumuu-wearing Torneko Taloon is a champion adventurer), the weaponsmiths in Weapon Shop de Omasse are content to stay in the walls of their humble weapon rental shop. Building weapons and listening to other adventurers' tales is good enough for them. The question is, will it be good enough for you?
Weapon Shop de Omasse is a rhythm game/RPG hybrid fronted by a young blacksmith's apprentice named Yuhan. Yuhan aims to be a forger of great weapons like his master, Oyaji. He gets his chance to practice his craft when rumors of the Evil Lord's resurrection begin stirring. Suddenly, every hero and nobody wants a sword, and demand quickly outstrips supply.
Yuhan comes up with an idea: Instead of selling weapons, why not rent them? The idea catches on, and desperate adventurers start pouring into the shop again.
Of course, Yuhan and Oyaji need to forge weapons before they can rent them. There are several weapon types that can be made, several material types to make them with, and even accessories for augmenting the weapons' abilities.
Regardless of what you're making, the creation process is largely the same: Tap on a slab of heated metal to the beat of the background music. You're given a quick impression of the blade you're supposed to be making out of the slab, and to forge the best weapon possible, you should carve away the chunks of metal without hitting the gestating blade. If you work carefully (preferably not so carefully that the metal has time to cool), you may forge a sword fit for a king.
Despite this simple method, there's a lot about forging that Weapon Shop de Omasse doesn't explain. As a result, weapon bonuses for slashing, stabbing, and blunt attacks almost seem to be distributed randomly.
Not that the clients seem to mind. Typically, as long as you match them up with a weapon type they favor, they'll get the job done. If they do fail at their quests (which costs you the weapon and the rental fee), making another simple weapon out of a stronger material usually does the trick. For a game that's supposed to celebrate weapons, the blacksmithing process in Weapon Shop de Omasse is pretty lightweight.
But the game doesn't just pay tribute to clubs, swords, and axes. It tips its +1 cap at everything we've come to love and hate about RPGs, especially Japanese RPGs. The dialogue exchanges between Yuhan, Oyaji, and their customer base is often laugh-out-loud funny and references nearly every genre cliché you can think of. There are plenty of subtle jokes too, like a samurai-type character that speaks in old English. A nod to a certain "Mr. Thou" from Final Fantasy VI, perhaps?
Even better is the "Grindcast," a Twitter-like feed that plays as your clientele goes adventuring and comes up against monsters. While these encounters are likewise funny, they can be a bit touching, too. Of particular note is an old lady looking for her lost husband, both of whom stood up to the Evil Lord during his first go-around.
Needless to say, the more you love RPGs – and the longer you've loved them – the more you'll get out of Weapon Shop de Omasse. Even so, its basic gameplay makes it a tricky recommendation.
If you relish the thought of idly polishing a sword while reading through a stack of cleverly-written in-jokes based around RPGs, then don't hesitate to open shop.