Published March 14, 2014
What if you were the blacksmith who created the heroes’ weapons? This Molydeux-esque question is the idea behind the new Level-5 RPG rhythm game, Weapon Shop de Omasse. And, after playing, you’ll soon find being a fantasy blacksmith is sometimes gold; but other times, dull as lead.
In Weapon Shop de Omasse, you begin your metallurgical adventure in a ramshackle blacksmithy run by the stoic master blacksmith, Oyaji. However, you – being an untested smithy – play as Yuhan, Oyaji’s plucky assistant, who dreams of becoming an exceptional blacksmith to provide exceptional heroes with weapons. But, all is not right in the land. Business isn’t what it used to be and, what’s more, the Dark Lord’s return is imminent. This motivates Oyaji and Yuhan to reopen the shop and rent weapons to potential up-and-coming heroes.
Since the forging of weapons naturally centres around the blacksmithy, it is the only seen location where the narrative plays out. You begin your apprenticeship by serving NPCs – some order and come back later to collect their shiny new weapon, others ask for a weapon then and there. If the NPC is happy to return later you have some time to forge them a new weapon, and it’s a simple matter of picking a suitable weapon. For each hero you’re given information on their preferred weapon and stats in slash, pierce and blunt damage; you’re also provided with monster information, such as damage-type weakness and elemental weakness. Overall, these limited interactions of NPC orders are the meat of the game; you alternate between sending adventurers out with a suiting weapon and forging ever more powerful weapons for the next hero.
This brings us to the weapon forging system, which is the fractured keystone of the game. The mini-game commences once you’ve selected additional item bonuses and hit start. Then, Oyaji pounds out a beat with his hammer and you copy the beat whilst hitting the roaring hot metal around the edges to reveal the weapons shape. There are things to keep in mind while forging though, hitting the same spot will break your bonus chain, and the metal getting too hot or too cold will negatively affect the finished weapon; which, ultimately, makes it harder for heroes to win their fights. This forging system, while interesting, does eventually get repetitive after you’ve done it for the first few hundred prospective heroes.
However, it is not all ho-hum. The unquestionable highlights of the game are the comical characters. Oyaji and Yuhan meet a motley cast of characters – from a depressed samurai who can’t catch a break, to a pair of rambunctious Chinese twins who can’t help but get into mischief. These conversations are punctuated by Japanese sitcom-style sound effects, including plenty of canned laughter. Additionally, you get to follow these humorous characters’ adventures by watching the grindcast, a social network tracker built into your weapons.
Unfortunately, in the end Weapon Shop de Omasse is a game where the game-play does not live up to the premise. Its crazy characters slightly make up for its shortcomings in gameplay, and add occasionally amusing moments to an otherwise unexciting experience. Hopefully, if there is a Weapon Shop de Omasse 2, Level-5 will keep it a bit longer in the furnace to forge a better RPG.