Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale - (Alec Meer)

Or rather “Recettear plus Gish, And Yet It Moves, Jolly Rover and Puzzle Agent” for £4/€4.5/$5.”

An incredible price for the incredibly lovely Recettear alone. Go gets. Also discounted today are EVE Online, Defense Grid, Cities XL, Audio Surf, Kane & Lynch 2 and Arkham Asylum. Only ten hours left, as the RPS collective was too busy waging its vigilante war against street crime last night to post this when it first happened.

Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale

What is Recettear? There's a good chance you have no idea, so I've put together the following cheat sheet. Don't worry, I'll have you sounding like a pro before you know it.

(1) Recettear is a lovingly crafted Japanese PC indie game made by EasyGameStation. It was recently lovingly translated by independent American localisation squad Carpe Fulgur, and is available on Steam for £12.99.

(2) The game casts you as Recette, a bumbling girl in a JRPG world that's deeply aware of its own absurdity. Your father runs off to be an adventurer, leaving Recette saddled with nothing but a house and a monster debt. The debt collector, an erudite fairy called Tear, suggests to Recette that they open a traditional RPG item shop and pay off the debt in smaller (yet still monstrous) weekly instalments. The game's catchphrase crisply sums up the duo's attitude to their situation: "Capitalism, ho!"

(3) It is absolutely not as twee or anime-like as the character art might suggest. It's a pacy, addictive, surprising experience that takes pleasure in holding your head in a barrel of financial opportunity and forcing you to breathe pure risk-reward. Fail, and the game over screen shows a sad Recette living in a cardboard box.

(4) It's pronounced "Racketeer".

After you've tapped your way through a few unnecessarily long tutorials, here's how an in-game day in Recettear might go.

First of all, you open for business. Your stock's looking good and you're feeling lucky. This causes a collection of customers to file in, the size of the crowd depending on the shopping experience you've been able to provide the public with.

Here, the fun starts. One by one, customers will come up and ask to buy something, or if you would like to buy something, or if you could recommend a certain type of item. Here, you make use of the game's rattlesnake-mean bartering system. You get two shots at offering a price acceptable to the customer, and then they walk out, losing you a sale.

Let's say an old man comes wobbling up, asking to buy an inordinately expensive pair of magical boots that have been gathering dust on your shelves for weeks. Brilliant! Capitalism, ho! Now, the pensioners of this town tend not to baulk at prices. 130 per cent of the boots' asking price of 18,000 pix would be a good starting point. But when you're dealing with an item this expensive, every percentile matters. You could go higher, 135 per cent maybe, bringing your offer to 24,300 pix. You do that. Click.

The codger baulks at your price. Now you only have one shot left to sell those boots, and it's a sale you want. 130 per cent might have seemed like a safe bet before, but what if this guy's stingy? You could go down to 120 per cent, maybe. 21,600 pix. But then you could be losing out on 2,000 pix worth of profit. How much do you need this sale? How much do you need the money? How much do you care about the old man liking you?

While this bartering system is the beating heart of Recettear, these kind of calculations don't actually take long. While you'll routinely come across transactions so important that they'll have you whimpering softly and chewing your knuckles, the above example would flow across your subconscious and be done in five seconds, leaving you either giddy or raging. Never mind though, here's someone else with another exciting proposition. Or maybe it's that sodding pauper girl again, asking if you have any cheap bracelets. This is the slot machine school of entertainment.

With one quarter of the day's time gone, your shop automatically closes up again. You could open it again, but your cupboards are looking a little bare, and nothing hurts the budding inner capitalist more than having to tell customers you're sorry, but you don't have what they're looking for. You leave the shop and head out into the world.

You could hit up the market and merchant's guild to get the goods, but you decide to explore the other half of Recettear: dungeoneering.

While Recette's no kind of hero, the folk who shop in her establishment obviously are. Make friends with one of them, they'll offer you their official Hero business card, and then you can go questing with them. You can kit them out with the latest and greatest merchandise from your store (assuming you haven't sold it to them already, perhaps at a discount) and then everything you recover from the dungeons can be sold at, as Tear puts it, 100 per cent profit!

Perhaps the biggest surprise that Recettear keeps under the counter is that the top-down, dungeon-crawling action is more competent than any number of games I could mention. It's fairly bare-bones, but the way your chosen hero moves and attacks has an excellent weight to it, monsters all boast unique attack patterns and the experience gems that go spraying out of creatures with each hit are a great reward for your continued exploration. There's more grinding than I'd like, but it is at least a satisfying grind. You can't wait to get back to town with your new cache of goods and get them on the shelves.

At the end of your long day spent buying, selling and killing, you realise you haven't checked the calendar yet. You do so, and are politely informed that you only have 4 days to raise a preposterous 200,000 pix for the next repayment of that sodding loan. It's impossible. You'll never be able to make that much, that fast. Or will you? Capitalism, ho!

So that's the core of Recettear. It's inventive, addictive and a ton of fun. This game got me talking to myself, both snarling in displeasure and speaking nonsensical quips like "Aw yeah" and "That's how we do where I'm from" with each tiny victory, which is probably the single most obvious sign that a game's succeeded in getting under my skin.

There's just one more thing I want to add to this sales pitch of mine before we finish, and that's that Recettear isn't just a great idea, it's a labour of love. For the first 30 or so hours of your life that Recettear will happily absorb, it's constantly adding new features, new characters, new plot lines, new items and new dungeons. Rather than letting you get tired, Recettear just gets bigger and weirder, and then even bigger and even more weird. It never feels like a developer trying to entertain you, it feels like you and the developer are going for a ride together, and neither of you know where you're going to end up.

Similarly, the American translators did a fantastic job. While conversations have a habit of dragging on for a little too a long, they also have a habit of being laugh-out-loud funny. The game's cast is made entirely of solid characters, and Recette's incompetence is compensated for by her cute tic of inventing new words. The world charms you, which in my case was a problem because I wanted to undercharge people I liked.

But the characters could all be repulsive, squealing mutants and I'd still love Recettear because of its mechanics. Every in-game day is a tiny gambling session, where a confluence of factors can result in you having the best or worst day ever. Maybe there's a hike in sword prices, and your favourite hero comes and buys that legendary sword you have in the window. Perfection. Maybe the next day you go on an adventure with him and his new sword, he gets panned by some horrible new boss and you go home with nothing. Horror. But however your day goes, you want just one more.

Recettear is one of the best indie games to arrive this year. Buy it, and you won't regret it. You might even love it. But one thing's for sure – you'll never look at a JRPG item shop the same way again.


Oct 18, 2010
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale

Don’t you just hate trying to vanquish evil on a budget? Dragon bearing down on the town? Entire world facing apocalypse? Don’t expect so much as a discount. Shopkeepers? Bastards.

Well, perhaps not. Recettear puts you on the other side of the counter, where saving the world doesn’t mean much if you don’t have a roof over your head afterwards. You play Recette, a young girl whose adventurer father has saddled her with a debt so large, his loan shark won’t even tell her how much she owes. To save her house, she converts it into an item shop, where you have to buy low, sell high, and occasionally head into dungeons with a mercenary hero to stock up on supplies, all while struggling to make the impossible weekly payments.

That’s the theory. Really, that’s not quite what Recettear is about. Your main resource isn’t money, it’s experience, to the point that if you follow the tutorial’s advice to haggle a few extra coins per purchase, you’ll fail almost immediately.

Instead, you’re better off making only slight profits but plentiful sales, This earns you a combo-bonus to your merchant XP that unlocks far more valuable abilities and store upgrades, as well as making your customers like you enough to spend big when you get your hands on the good stuff. In short, you quickly learn to sell everything at 104/5% and buy at around 70%, with only occasional exceptions.
Small change
Much of the game also relies heavily on luck – or at least unexplained triggers. You can’t rely on getting the right item-crafting ingredients in the dungeons, or on certain important characters turning up during the story. If the lady thief Charme never comes a-shopping, for instance, you won’t get access to the crucial third dungeon. Equally, nothing good comes if con artist Euria pays a visit.

In traditional Japanese RPG style, there’ll be FAQs available online that explain the ins-and-outs, but avoid these: they’re killers of fun. Recettear is adorable, which makes just piecing together the rules a fun experience. If you do fail, (and you will, at least once), you’re booted back to the start of the game, but retain your character’s level and stocks, along with a fully kitted-out hero. After the (short) campaign come extended play modes with more content, but the story mode is the real hook.

The odd thing is that while every element of Recettear is dirt-simple and easy to pick holes in, the game as a whole is incredibly likeable. It’s funny, well translated, and while you do spend most of it doing the exact same simple things, doing so quickly becomes a frothy, capitalistic bubblewrap. It won’t make you long for Hawke, Shepard and your other favourite RPG heroes to put down their swords and laser rifles in favour of BOGOF deals and pricing guns, but it’s a fun weekend job.
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale - Valve
Updates to Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:
  • Fixed typographical errors
  • Fixed error regarding the naming of the "brick floor" and "ruins floor" options for the shop
  • The reputation level of the shop with 'normal' customers (such as old men) now increases properly in both Survival modes
  • Adventurers should now properly equip any upgrades sold to them.
  • Adventurers will no longer attempt to wear two hats at once.
  • The crashes some people have been getting when the game attempts to play sound are fixed
    • if you are not getting sound, please ensure your sound drivers are properly installed and ensure your user permissions allow all programs to access sound hardware properly
  • Fusion requirements have been extensively reworked
    • lower-level fusions in general should be easier now, and some of the highest requirements (such as 50 Fur Balls for the Panda Suit) have been drastically lowered. Note that level 4 and 5 fusions are still somewhat difficult, however, as these are premium and powerful items

Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale

Have you ever wondered what it's like to run an item shop in a Japanese role-playing game? EasyGameStation's Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the fast-paced world of RPG commerce. Capitalism, ho!

Ever since Recettear appeared on Steam last week, fans of the game have been bugging us to give the game a go. As Kotaku's resident Japanese role-playing game enthusiast, I figured it was my duty or something.

I'm rather impressed.

Released in Japan in 2007 and recently localized for the English-speaking audience, Recettear tells the tale of a young woman named Recette Lemongrass who finds herself up to her elbows in debt following the disappearance of her adventuring father. Aided by a collections fairy named Tear, Recette turns her home into an item shop, selling a wide variety of role-playing wares in order to pay off her debt in installments.

One portion of the game is all about buying low and selling high. You go to the market or the merchant's guild, stocking up on supplies to fill your displays. Customers come into the store to buy and sell weapons, food, books, armor, and such. Haggling while keeping up with market fluctuations on a daily basis is a simple yet entertaining way to spend time.

Those of you craving a little more action in their RPG will find some fun at the Adventurer's Guild. Recette and Tear adopt an adventurer, providing him with healing items and cash in order to finance his dungeon exploring. In simple action-RPG format you'll explore various dungeons, bringing home special items at 100% profit.

Your adventurer friend also becomes one of your customers, so keeping the latest powerful weapons and armor in stock for him to purchase and equip makes for an easier time delving into the dungeon depths.

Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is a rather entertaining little game that can easily begin to eat up the hours once you get into the whole buying and selling thing. It's available now on Steam for $19.99.

Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale - Valve
Never before have you had a better opportunity to understand the perils of a poor Item Shop owner. Now you can manage displays and inventory, haggle with customers and supplier, and exploit unsuspecting adventurers all in the name of profit.

Capitalism Ho!

Recettear is now available on Steam.

Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale - Valve
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Valve and Carpe Fulgur LLC today announced an agreement to distribute the PC game Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale by independent gaming group EasyGameStation on Valve's Steam service.

Recettear was first released in Japan in December 2007 by EasyGameStation at the 73th Comiket convention. Carpe Fulgur has provided a top-class localization of this shop-simulator-slash-RPG title, and has distribution rights for the game outside Japan.

Recettear is the story of an item shop, the girl who lives in it, and the fairy who turned her life upside down. Recette Lemongrass finds herself in charge of an item shop built into her house, in order to pay back a loan her father took and then skipped out on - and Tear, her newfound fairy "companion", won't take no for an answer! As Recette, you have to decide how you'll get your stock - either through playing the markets in town or going out into the wild with an adventuring friend and thrashing beasts until they give up the goodies - how much to sell things for, what the shop should look like, and how to best go about getting the money Tear needs to pay off the loan. If you can't come up with the money... well, hope you like living in a cardboard box.

"We are happy - almost to the point of delirium, really - to be on Steam," said Andrew Dice, Project Director for Recettear at Carpe Fulgur. "This is the first time an independently-made game from Japan has appeared on the Steam service. This will allow the game to reach an audience of millions that otherwise would've been closed to it, and we have high hopes that Steam users will enjoy the game for the unique gem that it is."

Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is currently available for pre-purchase on Steam with a 10% discount and will be available to play on September 10th, 2010.

ABOUT CARPE FULGUR LLC: Carpe Fulgur LLC was founded by Andrew Dice and Robin Light-Williams. They envisioned a localization group that could bring deserving works of interactive entertainment - independently-made or otherwise - from Japan to America while using the fruits of modern technology to collaborate as closely as possible with the original content creators, in order to create English-language versions of works that read naturally in English but were still as close as possible to the visions of the original creators. The two need not be mutually exclusive - that rests at the heart of Carpe Fulgur's philosophy.

ABOUT EASYGAMESTATION: EasyGameStation is an unincorporated independent game creation group founded in 2002. Beginning as a simple hobbyist group which created works derived from existing IP, "EGS" released their first completely original title, Chantelise, on the world in 2006. Ever since then, EGS has been known for the high quality of their releases in independent gaming circles in Japan.

ABOUT STEAM: The leading online platform for PC games and digital entertainment, Steam delivers new releases and online services to over 25 million users around the world. For more information, please visit

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