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

Recettear merchants Carpe Fulgur recently released their second translated Japanese indie title, Chantelise, to the English-speaking world. The all-action dungeon-runner has been a little more divisive than its shopkeeping-centric predecessor, but it’s definitely picked up fans. Seems like a good time to chat to Carpe Fulgur’s Andrew Dice about the reception to the game, the debate over its difficulty, the argument around whether old Japanese gaming traditions such as painful low-health noises and repetition should be revisited, what the Japanese indie scene is like compared to its mainstream, and what to expect from project number 3, Fortune Summoners…>

Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale - Valve
Chantelise: A Tale of Two Sisters is now available on Steam! To commemorate its release, the game will be available at 10% off now through August 4th.

Chantelise is a whimsical Action-RPG brought to you from the creators of the renowned Recettear ~ An Item Shop's Tale. Search for treasures, fight challenging bosses, and delve deep into dungeons for loot and hours after hours of gameplay. There is fishing! Yes - fishing with collectible fish!

Five years ago, a witch's curse beneath the red moon turned Chante into a fairy. Now she and her sister Elise search for a way to transform her back into a human, and in their travels they come across a particular town, which is home to a number of nearby ruins, as well as a peculiar shopkeeper named Aira, and a strange, mercurial fortune-teller who calls herself Elma. Could this place hold the key to returning Chante to normal? Or will it lead to more answers than our two sisters ever wanted to know?...

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

I’ve spent a few hours nuzzling up to Chantelise, the next Westernised translation/do-over of a Japanese indie title from noble Recettear chaps Carpe Fulgur. Because I appear to be pretty terrible at the game, a full Wot I Think is probably some days off. Meantime though, here’s some early impressions ahead of the release on Friday.>

It strongly evokes Recettear while being absolutely nothing like it. Obviously much of that has to do with the love it/hate it/be a grown up and not be too fussed either way art style, but even beyond that a confluence of tone (via Carpe Fulgur’s extensive and breezily charismatic rewrite of the dialogue), references (many items bear similar if not the same names) and interface design paints this as a clear companion piece.

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

All of a sudden, we’re just days away from the next release from the merchants of Recettear. Chantelise: A Tale Of Two Sisters is, as is Carpe Fulgur’s M.O., a diligently-translated Western do-over of a Japanese indie title – in this case a dungeon crawler. Which means ACTION rather than COMMERCE.

Chantelise will finally be released later this week- the 29th, specifically. You can warm yourself up with a demo right now, however.

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

They’ve not even got out their second game Chantelise yet, but already Recettear‘s translator/Western publisher Carpe Fulgur have lifted the lid on project the third. It’s another translation of a Japanese indie game – this time being side-scrolling RPG/platformer Fortune Summoners: Secret of the Elemental Stone, which apparently has been something of a pet project for CF boss Andrew Dice. Have you heard of it? I haven’t. But then I haven’t heard of most things, like dinosaurs, cheese and the offside rule.

Jan 17, 2011
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale - (Alec Meer)

Recettear, o Recettear. The out-of-nowhere translation of EasyGameStation’s Japanese indie shopkeeping/dungeoneering hybrid has done pretty well for itself, recently passing 100,000 sales with barely a whiff of marketing or promotion. While that’s just 10% of Minecraft’s paying userbase, it does proves that you don’t need to go mega-viral to make the creation and selling of indie games a plausible career choice. Given that milestone and given the recent announcement that Chantelise will be US translat-o-developers Carpe Fulgur’s next project, it seemed like a good time to chat to the team’s Andrew Dice about what happened, what he expected to happen, more about Chantelise’s when and why, and what game(s) they’re hoping to turn their attention to next. Go words!> (more…)

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

Joyous tidings from Carpe Fulgur, translators/Western distributors of the ever-lovely indie shopkeeping game Recettear: they’ve only gone and sold 100,000 copies of the bally thing, without promotion or publisher and solely via digital distribution on PC. Oh, and they’ve cheekily revealed what the next Japanese indie title to pass through their Westernisotron will be…


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.

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