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This is a game that I’ve been looking at since before it came out on Steam. It’s always looked like something that is right up my alley gameplay wise, but I haven’t been able to get behind the anime aspect, not for the price tag at least. So when it went on sale on the first day of the recent Steam Summer Sale for five bucks, I felt I had to give it a fair shot.
And I was right about almost everything regarding my initial assessment of the game. Yes, it is very over the top in how anime it is. Japanese voice-acting is completely in tact in this localization, with no English option, only the game’s text has been translated. The translation is in a style, which is again very anime. Something I find incredibly annoying as I play through as it tries ridiculously hard to be cute, but I’m sure the target audience for this game (lonely hermit Japanese men and their North American counterparts) really appreciates it.
Unfortunately, my taste in gameplay must be similar to those lonely hermits, because I feel like I can completely overlook all the anime stylings of this game, and there are a lot, and really dig into the meat of it.
At it’s heart, it’s a market game. Your goal is to make the most money (with goals each week which you have to meet) and make it in the most efficient way possible. There is only one way to do this, and that is by running your item shop (which you will lose if you fail to pay your debts back on time each week). However, in order to run your item shop, you need to first procure items to sell. This is the real meat of the game for me.
There are a dozen ways to get things to sell in your shop, from straight out buying them (at a reduced cost) from a few different marketplaces (depending on the type of item you want to sell) or you can hire adventurers to delve in to an expanse of various dungeons and bring you back the loot. Naturally, the latter option tends to be more lucrative, and perhaps the most fun.
When you hire an adventurer and select a dungeon to visit you are transported instantly to it and you assume control of the adventurer during your time there. You start only being able to hire one, but as you play you can unlock others who each have different playstyles (though they are the general archetypes which you would expect, a warrior, mage, archer, thief, etc.). There are, apparently, a surprising array of dungeons. At this point I’ve only unlocked a handful and am nearing completion of the main storyline. Mind you I also have yet to unlock all the characters, so I know I still have a lot of content left and I’ve already put in more than twenty hours into the game.
The thing about the game is, it just clicks with me. It has all these gameplay elements that I just really dig even though I could easily see how other gamers might find it downright boring. The market system is a lot of fun to me, and so is dungeon crawling. The dungeon crawling gives me a sort of Secret of Mana feel (it’s not like Secret of Mana) and it is well documented that Secret of Mana is my favourite video game of all time. This obviously makes the dungeon crawl a huge plus for me. Furthermore, the range of characters, and the fact that I can interact with them in a very original way just absolutely blows me away. It’s honestly quite innovative, and unlike anything you’re likely to find elsewhere.
For example, do you want to upgrade your favourite adventurer’s equipment? Entice them to come to your shop, either by random chance, or set up your shop’s atmosphere in a way that attracts them. Then, hope that they want to buy a new weapon or armour, THEN you better hope they can or want to pay for it, because you definitely don’t want to pull out of a transaction with a high level weapon on the line without selling it, chances are you spent thousands of pix (the in-game currency) on that weapon. It’s very interesting in a sort of micro-management kind of way. There’s a lot of things to keep track of, and I love that for some reason.
Furthermore, there is the difficulty. Now I certainly wouldn’t call the game relentless, it’s quite easy at first glance even. However, you can screw up, and the game is not shy about punishing you for it. Fail to pay your debt on time? There’s no second chances, game over. You restart on Day 2 and all your progress is treated as if it was a dream by the main character. On the bright side, you get to keep your Merchant Level, items, and a certain degree of progress throughout. Did you die in a dungeon? Yeah, you can take one item back with you (though you can upgrade that number to a whopping 3 items with higher Merchant Levels), so all your sweet loot is gone. This can be especially harsh if you were letting your adventurer use one of your prized weapons for the duration because it can come down to a choice between your expensive weapon, or a piece of nice loot.
So, that’s it. That’s Recettear. There’s a whole lot of meat and potatoes to the game, and it’s unfortunately all hidden underneath a thick topping of anime. It’s very fun though, if anything here sounds like it might be up your alley, I highly recommend checking out the demo on steam, or just picking it up (as I don’t know how much the demo covers.) And unfortunately, skipping the cutscenes at the beginning is not recommended the first time you play as you’re given a lot of information about how to run your shop (though it’s not the least intuitive thing ever.) It’s a surprisingly good game, but it’s not the first time an overly anime styled game has been great, after all, there’s Disgaea.
Everyone begins a sentence like this at one point. If you haven’t yet, your time is coming, don’t worry. You might not believe me now, but you will one day, friend. Some examples of this trend:
“I don’t like reality TV, but… I always watch the American Idol auditions.”
“…I find myself watching Survivor every season.”
“…I love America’s Got Talent.”
That last one is mine. I don’t really watch go out of my way to watch the show, as I don’t really go out of my way to watch television when it’s actually on and I don’t have my PVR set up to record it, but if it’s on there is a good chance I’ll have it on in the background somewhere and I’ll stop to watch a couple acts here and there. I am always entertained by it almost always.
I’m having a hard time coming up with good reasons as to why it’s any different from American Idol, or any other similarly structured reality show, but it’s somewhat inexplicable, and perhaps that is the nature of reality TV. We find ourselves watching it and just can’t really help being a little attracted to the idea of regular people putting themselves in these sorts of weird situations. It’s interesting.
America’s Got Talent though is an interesting beast. Instead of narrowing it down to one sort of performance, you get a lot of really interesting performers and performances up on stage. You’re almost guaranteed to see something you like if you watch an entire episode of the show, and I like that concept of it.
Furthermore, the judges. I don’t have a particular affinity for any of them, but I’m familiar with all three judges, and the only one who tends to grate on me at times is Howie Mandel, but even he has his moments. It’s not like American Idol where (until recently) you had Simon Cowell who was enjoyable and then Randy and Paula just said the same things over and over again. I find all three judges on America’s Got Talent tend to hit a bit more than they whiff with both their judgements and their jokes. They’re entertaining the way judges on other shows tend not to be. That helps a fair bit I think.
So what makes the show good compared to other reality TV in my eyes? Nothing really, it just happens to be that one exception to the rule that I rather enjoy when I see it. It has a lot of variety compared to a lot of other stuff out there, and that keeps me checking in with it when I see it on. It’s just simple mindless fun, really.
By now if you haven’t watched HBO’s Game of Thrones, you should have. Not that you have spoilers or anything to worry about from this post, but it is just such a fantastically well done series that there’s no excuse not to have seen it at this point. And yes, this is going to be a post about how fantastic it is.
I’ve made it a point to get all caught up on the A Song of Ice and Fire novels (which Game of Thrones is based on) by George R. R. Martin before the second season starts in Spring of 2012. This is a slower process for me as I only tend to find time to read before I go to sleep so I only end up knocking out two or three chapters at a time. So I’m not even half way through the first novel (also titled Game of Thrones).
However, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it especially having seen the television adaptation already. Reading through the book actually gives me a greater appreciation for just how well done the series actually is. I was reading last night and thinking reading the novel after watching the series, the novel actually almost feels like a highly accurate novelization of the series.
This is a really neat idea to me. You normally don’t see adaptations that are so incredibly faithful to the source work that you can go back and forth between them and really not miss much. Sure, the book gives insight into character thought processes that you don’t get with any television show, but Game of Thrones was done in such a way that it isn’t really necessary, the thought processes should either be fairly obvious already, or reveal very little that the viewer-turned-reader really missed out on. Certainly there are a few extra little side characters, a few somewhat extended scenes in the book, but again nothing of any real importance. The television series does such a good job of leaving in scenes which hold even a modicum of significance.
Even Daenerys, a character who, both in the novel and adaptation, seems like a very internal character is pulled off magnificently by Emilia Clarke and in a way that does not require a lot of her internal thought processes. Though of all the characters, I have found her to be one of the more gratifying POVs to read due to the fact that it fleshes out her character a bit more beyond what we could tell from the show, precisely because she is a very internalized character. (For those unaccustomed, the novels are divided up in to Points of View, which act as the chapters, each chapter follows one of several character’s points of view (Eddard, Dany, Bran, Jon, Cat, Tyrion). The format works very well in the novels, and the same format is used similarly in the series.)
Adaptation is perhaps a more learned interest of mine (thanks to several semesters of talking about adaptation under a favourite professor in university) and things are almost always changed in such a way that they take on a sort of life of their own. I’ve argued several times that it is difficult to directly compare the original and an adaptation (in specific cases) because of the fact that the format makes them very different creatures. Game of Thrones on the other hand, is almost the exact same creature given a very refreshing new life and it’s absolutely wonderfully executed. I can only hope that the coming seasons will follow suit (and I imagine they will!)
(As a sidenote, does having ‘R.R.’ in your name give you fantasty-writing superpowers? I’m not, and never have been a big fan of fantasy stuff as it’s prone to a lot of bad writing habits but I’ve always had a big soft spot for Lord of the Rings and now Game of Thrones is really impressing me. Should I change my name to Rylee R. R. Otway and try to become a fantasy writer? Is that a sound business strategy?)