Genre: Japanese Role-Playing Game, business simulation, management, dungeon crawler

Release Date: 2007 (Japan), 2010 (Rest of the World) 

Developer: Easy Game Station

Publisher: Carpe Fulgur (English Release)


A young girl named Recette Lemongrass opens an item shop to pay back a loan her adventuring father took before mysteriously disappearing. With the help of a fairy named Tear, she embarks on a life of capitalism, buying items and selling them at a profit. Recette can also recruit local adventurers to go dungeon crawling for items that she can sell in her store. Recettear, the name of the item shop, is a combination of Recette and Tear’s names. Recettear is a dojin game (a form of video game usually created by Japanese hobbyists and fans). While popular in Japan, dojin games, unlike games from established Japanese developers, are rarely translated for worldwide audiences. Since my knowledge of Kanji and Hiragana is somewhat limited, the English version of Rusettia (Recettear) is a great opportunity to enjoy dojin soft.

Playability: Comprehensive tutorials and simple recipes

Recettear’s tutorials are disarmingly crystal clear and can be accessed anytime during the game. As your merchant level increases, Tear will introduce new concepts and options, repeat them patiently, and have you proceed through a few dry runs to make sure you have understood her lecture. The mechanics of the item shop are initially simple: buy low, sell high. The mark-up is usually around 130%. There is only a handful of customers and they each have specific willingness to pay a certain price. The dungeon crawls are similarly straightforward: move around with the arrow keys and hit anything that also moves.

Annoyance: Loan shark coming for debt collection

Recettear starts slowly and builds difficulty on repetition. Recette must regularly pay back her father’s loan. From the very beginning, the instalment amounts are relatively high. Failure to make a payment soon results in bankruptcy. This item shop is under severe pressure! Recette has busy days prepping up the store, buying items at the market and crawling dungeons to steal from gradually more aggressive critters and bosses. After a day’s work trying to make deadlines in real life, Recettear might not be appropriate for an evening of laid back casual gaming.

Beauty: Cute big eyes

Recettear has Japanese speaking characters with silly laughter and big teary eyes, typical of shonen and shojo manga (boys and girls audience). The drawings are depictions of standard manga characters and archetypes: tsundere (arrogant outside but loving inside), kuudere (cool), dandere (quiet). Recettear has been fully translated, with the exception of the original voice acting, which makes for a nice immersion into Japanese role playing. The animation and gameplay graphics are low resolution and reminiscent of Japanese 1990s video gaming classics.

The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: A hugely intricate role playing game disguised in children’s manga 7/10

Recettear is a firsthand Japanese gaming experience: intricate, sophisticated, expansive, repetitive, fastidious and cute. The Item Shop’s Tale follows its own logic (reminiscent of taking the Tokyo subway for the first time) but the comprehensive tutorials will ease gamers into play. Recettear is a tough slime to wipe as it mixes traditional adventuring and role playing (with wacky tough bosses) with a cutthroat go for broke shop running simulation.