Home
Twitter
RSS
Newsletter
Bev Chen
28 Jan, 2011

Recettear: An item Shop's Tale Review

PC Review | Capitalism, ho!
Business simulators have come a long way. The phrase ‘business simulator’ will immediately conjure up memories of Rollercoaster Tycoon and SimGolf for many. Whatever the game though, chances are that they all lack in one major element – a compelling story. Hence why Recettear is such an unusual title. Never mind that it’s a business simulator from Japan of all places, but it has a narrative that has far more depth than “You are a tycoon out to make a buck (or a billion)”.

No, under its humour, the cut-throat mercantile gameplay and the unusual but welcome element of dungeon adventuring is a story that is surprisingly touching. It follows the story of Recette Lemongrass, a young girl whose father has disappeared. She is paid an unexpected visit by a fairy named Tear, who tells her that her father had a huge debt before he disappeared and that as the next of kin, she must now work to pay it off. How does a young girl make an enormous amount of money? By running a store, of course!

Players who have worked in the retail industry will find the elements of Recettear to be very familiar. Almost every aspect of working in such an environment you can think of is covered, save for crazy customers complaining about crazy things. The basics are, of course, selling and buying to and from customers. Each ‘type’ of customer, (or are they all the same person?!) although there aren’t too many of them, will buy up to a particular markup. For example, the little girl can only afford to buy items with a markup of up to 112% or so, whereas the young man will buy up to 130%. Just like in real life, offering customers good deals will eventually get them to like you more and they will gradually ask for more expensive items as well as accept higher prices. Annoyingly however, there isn’t any way to gauge how a customer feels about you, so most of the time you will be working to remember the price point they are comfortable with and the kinds of products they are most willing to throw money down on.

Whoa, whoa, whoa...

Whoa, whoa, whoa...
Close
But why else would you offer customers good prices, other than gaining their loyalty? Recettear throws in a role-playing game element in the form of an experience bar, which upon filling will raise your merchant level. While each sale will net you some experience points, the only way to really rack them up is to consistently sell at good prices, which each subsequent successful sale acting as a multiplier. In addition to that, the game gives you a hefty bonus if you manage to sell at a markup close to or on their ideal price. The higher your merchant level, the more features of the game are opened up to you, such as taking orders from customers or being able to expand your shop to accommodate for more display shelves. In terms of the retail basics however, there aren’t too many to learn and some may find that the game will quickly become very repetitive.

There are other neat things you have to deal with in your retail adventures that are out of your control, such as fashion trends and food shortages. In these cases, the prices of such objects go up, meaning that it’s definitely the right time to break them out if you have them in your inventory. Likewise, certain conditions make the prices of objects decrease, which is a good time for you to buy but a lousy time to sell them to your customers. It’s things like these that give the impression that the world of Recettear is a living, breathing, dynamic one – just like in real life. This also applies to your customers; although their spending habits are usually routine, they can occasionally be rather unpredictable in terms of what they are willing to spend or receive for their items. Naturally, this leads to a lot of screaming and shouting, especially when you see that a customer won’t want to spend the same amount of money on an item they bought just a few days ago, instead expecting the price to be much lower.

Don't let this little girl fool you - she's probably the one who will make you swear uncontrollably.

Don't let this little girl fool you - she's probably the one who will make you swear uncontrollably.
Close
As for obtaining products, the game gives you several options. The first, mentioned previously, is when customers offer to sell you various items of theirs. The second way is to visit the two other retailers you have access to: the Merchant’s Guild and the Marketplace. These stores have fixed prices which are less than the base selling price, which most of the time makes purchasing from them a good idea but selling to them a bad one. They are a good way of finding items that might be a bit hard to come across, such as books. The third and most involved way is to go dungeon crawling.

Of course, dungeons are full of nasty creatures and all sorts of dangers that poor Recette can’t handle on her own. So she hires adventurers, which you take control of, to go through the dungeons and collect loot for her. There are several different adventurers to choose from, each with their own playstyles and skills. Your store inventory comes in handy when dealing with them as well; you can lend adventurers some of your products in order to boost their statistics before heading out into the field. Keep note though, that each item you equip on your adventurers fills up their inventory space, which in turn means that you will be able to hold less items that you find. If you die however, you will only be able to take one piece of treasure back with you (much to your angered cries). Still want more treasure after a successful run? Recettear does allow you to return to previously cleared dungeons, but the layout is randomised each time.

A giant rat with a crowbar? Sign me up for that boss battle.

A giant rat with a crowbar? Sign me up for that boss battle.
Close
The problem with dungeons is that they do not unlock automatically. Often there will be a certain number of things you have to do, such as talking to the right person, in order to get the dungeon to show up on your map. This is especially annoying, and even harmful to your store operations if you sit back and twiddle your thumbs while you wait for news of a dungeon appearing. Less irritating (but a trial in time management) is the fact that visiting dungeons take up a large chunk of your day. Each day is divided up into four portions and dungeons take up two. That being said, the other two fractions of your day can still be used to make an adequate number of sales, especially if you return with some great loot.

Musically, Recettear does the trick nicely, although the tunes do get a little tiresome after a while, especially in the dungeons. The voice acting is comprised of sound clips that are played at various intervals. While decent, it’s not hard to see why some people will be muting the voices very quickly; all the Japanese voice acting from the original has been preserved and Recette’s squeaky voice blaring from the speakers every two seconds can get grating at times. The graphics are colourful, with the backgrounds looking remarkable, but the character sprites do look a little ragged around the edges at times, especially if you are playing on a high-end monitor.

Recettear is perhaps one of the most unusual examples of a simulation game yet; with its engaging storyline, large ensemble of characters and action-RPG sequences, this is a game that really stands out from the crowd. Highly recommended for any PC gamer looking for something beyond MMOs and FPS games.
The Score
Recettear is perhaps one of the most unusual examples of a simulation game yet; with its engaging storyline, large ensemble of characters and action-RPG sequences, this is a game that really stands out from the crowd. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Content

Amnesia: The Dark Descent Review
26 Sep, 2010 Don't sleep with your lights off.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Review
10 Sep, 2010 Guard this light well, dear adventurers.
Jambo Safari Ranger Adventure Review
03 Jan, 2010 A safari gone wrong.
12 Comments
3 years ago
I still remember this line from one of the screenshots...

"A hoodlum is gonna steal my cuuuuuttteeeeneesss"
3 years ago
Wow...this game seriously oozes cuteness all over the place.

I can definitely see myself buying it just for that cuteness factor icon_biggrin.gif
3 years ago
A couple of extra screenshots I took when I was playing through it:


Dunegon1 by light487, on Flickr


Cuteness by light487, on Flickr

One other thing, regarding the boss fights: Each have their own particular weakness and strength and you will not be able to win unless you work them out.. makes it a little bit more interesting than just whacking away at the boss till it dies..
3 years ago
Ha ha! thanks Light!! that's the screenshot I was referring to icon_biggrin.gif
3 years ago
I was looking at playing this but it seemed so tedious. I'm still fence sitting though, is it worth it?
3 years ago
Yes, it's worth it! I'm usually not a huge fan of dungeon crawling but I decided to give this game a go because some of my friends loved it, and I'm really glad I did. I think it has a nice balance between the crawling and simulation. The main issue I have is that it's not always obvious to me how to unlock new dungeons (and you really need them to get the big-ticket items to win in the last week), although that could be because I haven't played games like this much.

I'd wait until there's a sale on one of the distribution services though, rather than paying full price.
3 years ago
Any idea when/if there will be a sale though? Probably won't get one anytime soon as it had a huge sell last Christmas.
3 years ago
Cyph wrote
I was looking at playing this but it seemed so tedious. I'm still fence sitting though, is it worth it?
There is a demo available on Steam, lets you try everything out.
3 years ago
Bev wrote
Musically, Recettear does the trick nicely, although the tunes do get a little tiresome after a while, especially in the dungeons.
Which is why I replaced it with Ocarina of Time music.

MODDING IS FUN
3 years ago
Tried the demo last year; bought it during Steam Christmas sale along with 4 other indie games (as a pack of course).

Love this game; the demo doesn't do it justice because you only get a few days and usually as a first-time player you won't get far enough to experience other chars, high merchant level 'abilities/features' and stuff like fusion/etc.

It actually starts getting rather tricky (the dungeons) as you progress, with exploding monsters who also track you down with walls of flame/etc/etc. Rather nice.
3 years ago
Capitalism Ho!

Picked this up in the insanely cheap $5 for 5 indie game bundle which was astounding value for money, it also went on sale around Christmas for $5 but it is certainly worth full price. Carpe Fulgur admitted they should have waited for a better sale price than $1 but they have made enough to port over some more EasyGameStation games to Steam which is great news.
3 years ago
Just for the record.. I pre-ordered this one through steam.. hehe.. I knew it was good before it was even released (outside of Japan). icon_smile.gif
Add Comment
Like this review?
Share it with this tiny url: http://palg.nu/4wi

N4G : News for Gamers         Twitter This!

Digg!     Stumble This!

| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  11/09/2010
Publisher:
  Carpe Fulgur LLC
Genre:
  RPG

Read more...
Currently Popular on PALGN
Australian Gaming Bargains - 08/12/11
'Tis the season to be bargaining.
R18+ Legislation
R18+ Legislation
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview
Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2007
24 titles to keep an eye on during 2007.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2008
And you thought 2007 was populated.