Circle Entertainment is perhaps best known for releasing copious amounts of inexpensive, bite-sized games on the Nintendo eShop. Sometimes the games are really great and can suck you in for a week or so, and sometimes they’re shallow and a little lackluster and don’t hold your attention for long. Either way, their games are nearly always $5 or less, so it’s no big loss at all.
Kingdom’s Item Shop is definitely one of the best games Circle Ent. has localized.
If you’ve played Recettear from Carpe Fulgur and EasyGameStation you already have a basic handle on the mechanics of KIS. While it’s definitely a concentrated experience compared to the more full and humorous Recettear, Kingdom’s Item Shop is no slouch. Your character begins to run a shop with the end goal of earning the titular title of being the “Kingdom’s Item Shop.” By selling products to a varied bunch of customers as well as completing orders for specific items, you will gain reputation and capital and climb through the capitalistic hierarchy of the kingdom.
There are two primary ways to obtain more items. The first involves selecting an area to explore, then hiring a set number of adventurers. Since you’re just a weak shop owner, you can’t fight on your own. As you gain more renown you unlock the ability to hire more adventurers at once as well as select from the three basic fantasy archetypes of warrior, mage, archer. Upon entering an area, monsters show up on the screen. As your hired hands fight the monster following your commands to either automatically attack or defend, you must run around the screen collecting as many of the items that fly from the wounds of the beast as possible. Each hero archetype also has a special move that builds up over time that deals a decent amount of damage to a monster but more importantly causes a lot more times to drop during the battle. Once the monster is defeated, it erupts in a great flash of items, prompting you to run around frantically to collect them before they disappear. Luckily, there is a boost meter that greatly increases your speed, but it runs out quickly.
Upon completion of an area, you return to your small shop where items that were left out have continued to be sold. From here you can restock your counters, expand or redecorate the shop, or head into town to synthesize. The synthesis system in KIS is great. Each of the eventual four shops in the game specializes in a specific type of item, those being Food, Equipment, Clothing, and Spells. With your spoils from the dungeon you can head into these shops and fuse items together to create new items that not only fetch higher prices but offer better selling bonuses than non-synthesized items. Each shop only starts with a couple recipes, but the shopkeepers periodically give you new hints that you must decipher in order to discover new recipes to synthesize. While it is generally easy to figure out what a recipe is calling for, some of them can be quite challenging.
Perhaps my favorite small detail of the game is the bonus granted for selling a specified number of an item. For example, selling 25 individual Aqua Lances will grant your hired hands a permanent bonus of 4 attack. Rad! Bonuses are available to increase your dash meter or the defense of your minions as well. While they can level up through battle, this is an excellent additional way to increase your strength.
Your shop is always running, even when the game is in sleep more or your 3DS is turned off. Once you turn the game back on or unpause the menu, you will be notified of all the sales you made as well as any bonuses you earned for the sales. Then you have to run around to grab up all the money that was unceremoniously tossed your way by the product-hungry customers.
The music in the game is generally cutesy and may occasionally get stuck in your head. I actually enjoyed the shop theme, but due to the nature of the tunes and the game itself many of the songs do get repetitive over time which is why I eventually started playing it with the sound off except in new areas to see if new songs were played there.
Visually, KIS is cute and effective. Nice, varied spritework results in a fun kingdom as you can easily see a variety of shoppers walk into or past your store. Enemies and items, on the other hand, are blown up in resolution. Pixel art really looks best when it is very small so blowing it up, especially when normal resolution sprites are on the same screen, is jarring and can make the otherwise good sprite work look ugly.
Kingdom's Item Shop Final Verdict
Kingdom's Item shop is a great way to spend a weekend. If you're looking for something quick and thoroughly entertaining on the eShop, it's hard to beat this game since it's only $5. I doubt I'll remember much about it in a couple years, but nonetheless I enjoyed my time with Kingdom's Item Shop.