Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! (PS4) Review

I imagine a lot of you out there have played games such as Game Dev Tycoon and Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale – two classic sleeper hits which have you managing a company/store as you satisfy the needs of your staff/customers. If you could add one thing to these to make them infinitely better, what would it be? That’s right – Potatoes! Daylight Studios have created one of the most addictive, funny, quirky, unique experiences you’ll have on the PS4 this year in the form of Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! As the title implies, you’ll be looking after a weapon shop whilst micro(chips)-managing your spuds as you aim to resist bankruptcy. 

Tl;DR – Buy this game now on either PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS, or Android!

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Oh yeah, you also get a dog to help you out, a potato dog?!

As stated above, Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! is a micro-management simulation game in which you must hire, create, sell, and comfort. The story is simple, you play as the player-named protagonist who has inherited his grandfather’s weapon shop in the wake of his disappearance. You must either keep the shop afloat by catering to the local spuds requests and needs or face bankruptcy and the wraith of Agent 46. Agent 46 is a 99.9% partner in the business and he demands you run everything for him as he only wishes to reap the benefits (financially) when he feels like it.

You’ll be tasked with employing the best ‘taters for the job as you manage four workstations, each with their own speciality, as you create weapons with certain skill sets to suit the local citizens. This is easier than it sounds though as you need to also take into consideration your employees moral as you send them on holiday every once in a while. Not to mention resources – you must cease creating items in order to buy goods or go searching for random items via excursions. Eventually, the whole game becomes a race against time as your frantically trying to earn enough money to both pay your staff wages as well as your share to Agent 46 without putting yourself in the red.

Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! is super addictive and for fans of the micro-management, simulation, shop running/building and resource management genres – like me – you won’t be able to put the game down. I have basically played it for about 12 hours straight so far and I’m still not near the end! I kind of think I’m addicted…

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You must manage your rag-tag team as you create the weapons of legends!

A mash of mechanics
Let’s begin at the beginning as Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! does actually get quite deep the further you get but the overall premise is the same. You start off in a small shop with only three workstations available for you, Accuracy, Strength and Speed. Instantly I was given my first pun-named spud in the form of Bulk Bogan – you’ll see a lot of pun names in this game. You can simply create weapons willy-nilly, but there is no point as nobody will pay top prices for them. What you actually do is hold down L2 whilst choosing a weapon to create and you will see what the local spuds actually want – they may want a knife that’s main priority is Speed or a bow which is high in Accuracy etc… Later on, in the game you’ll also come across people who want an item that’s main priority is one thing and it’s second is another – so you need to manage it so those two things come out on top in the right order.

For now, we’ll keep it simple – say it is a knife and it has to have its main priority in speed. Once you’ve selected the weapon your employees will begin to bash away as they create it – just like in Game Dev Tycoon. However, hit the touchpad and you can ‘boost’ an area – this lets you pay for a much better 3rd party, or assign one of your team to focus on one aspect for a few seconds. This is crucial as it can give you a massive boost in a particular area. You can constantly see all the various aspects as they go up – the rate of which depends on the level of your employee and the desk they are working on. Once finished, you can make more or go and sell the item – I recommend making three items before selling them as you can carry three with you when you go to town.

One final thing is the ability to use items you find to boost your weapon. So, once you have finished a weapon you are given the chance to apply a boost – if you own any. These are found when out exploring, you can’t buy them. These can be anything from a small 40 point boost to a certain stat all the way up to a 520 point boost to a stat! You can really use these to help mould a created item into the one you need for a customer. What I tend to do is start making a weapon and then use the touchpad boost for the secondary ability the customer wants. Then at the end, I’ll use a 520 point boost on the one which should be the main priority to push it out in front. It seems to work most of the time. 

That’s basically the gist of the ‘creation’ phase – later on, you unlock the ‘magic’ stat and a new employee and you get the option to hire more people to help you, but overall, the process remains the same. Only it gets a lot more stressful as you enter new shop locations.

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Make sure you cater for the buyers needs if you want the best prices.

Paint the town red, with Ketchup
Okay, so you have your weapons now, what do you do? Time to visit the town! You have access to a map which gives you various commands, here is a breakdown of what you can do at any time:

Sell your weapons: Simple – pick this option, pick your weapons and which spud you wish to take them to sell. The more items they sell, the higher their merchant level increases. The higher the level, the more bonus money you get for each sale – simple. Once you get to the town, you’ll run an auction-like event where you will see four people bidding on the item. You can opt to sell or keep the weapon and move on – once you’ve sold a weapon to someone though, they vanish until you next enter the town. So don’t sell a bad weapon to someone who you know will like the next one you have! Each character you sell to also has their own level – this increases as you sell the items and each time it goes up your shop gets more reputation and fans.

Go searching for items: This is one of the best things to do whilst your other spuds are on holiday or selling an item. You can send up to three ‘taters out to various locations on the map and command them to do a salvage mission. They will come back with various items, some will be boosts (as mentioned above) and some will be raw materials for you to create with. Just like selling, each time you send out a spud, they will get experience and increase their skill in this ability with a higher level character being able to find better items and more of them. 

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The rather pretty hand-drawn map screens are a welcomed change from the in-game bold graphics.

Go Shopping: This is another easy one – you can send a spud here to buy some items which you chose to pay for. They won’t sell every item you need, as most will be via searching only, but you can buy core materials so you can at least make a few things in your shop.

Go on vacation: This option is annoying – why would I want to let my silly employees have a break and go on holiday? Basically, you have too. If they become really upset and angry, then their work performance drops, they constantly moan and they will threaten to quit – I’m not sure if they do quit but that is a possibility! The issue with this is it’s quite pricey with some resorts charging 1.5k per spud to go away for a few minutes to relax. However, if you don’t do it then the outcome will be much worse than losing a bit of money. 

Train your spuds: This option lets you send your employees off on a training course. Again, this is quite expensive and sometimes it’s better to just get the guys to learn on the job as you gain quite a lot of experience as you begin to create higher value items.

Expand your business: Okay, this one is quite important. As you become more famous and you begin to gain more followers and complete missions given to you by Agent 46, you’ll be given unlock tickets. You can use these on the mini-map in order to unlock new towns, shops and places to go and salvage for items. You’ll be able to unlock all of these quite easily and naturally as you play through the game. Just remember to unlock every place you see as there is a trophy assign to doing so!

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As you progress, you can move shop and buy items with make you more efficient.

In-Store pur-chips’
Okay, so that’s all the things you can do via the map screen, but what about in your store? I did tell you Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! got pretty deep, didn’t I? There are three things you can do in-store other than creating weapons, these are;

Research: After you’ve been salvaging for items, you can combine various things and go off in a mystical portal to a faraway land and create the blueprint for a new and wonderous weapon! Okay, so it’s a rabbit hole (in Sims talk), which means you pick an item you wish to research and the spud you like and off they pop into a portal. You won’t see anything until they re-emerge about five minutes later with the blueprint. I find it’s best doing this and setting everyone else to got and salvage for two turns as the portal takes a while to complete its process.

Contracts: Just like in Game Dev Tycoon, you can take on contracts from random people and aim to complete them. Such as getting X amount of A ability and Y amount of B ability with Z amount of time. I’ve completed 19 out of 49 of these – the amount you have to buff an item shoots up pretty rapidly and it makes them really hard to complete.

Shop upgrades!: What’s that? Do you have money ($tarch) that’s burning a hole in your pocket? Don’t sweat it – there is plenty for you to buy in the shop!  From upgrading your workstations to buying a coffee machine to keep people happy, an air-con machine to keep the spuds chilled in summer and a fire for winter, rugs and ornaments to boost certain abilities, and even items to boost the amount of experience your spuds get. Nothing is cheap but the benefits you get are worth it – especially upgrading your workstations. Just a simple 3k can take you from putting out 1-3 ability points a second to 10-15!

Pun-tatoes!
One of the things I absolutely love about Holy Potatoes! is it’s use of puns and the clever writing – as you’ve probably seen from the images I have posted above (Slideshow). Not only are a lot of the employees you hire simply puns of famous people, such as Bulk Bogan, Batato (Batman) and Heisenberger (Heisenberg from Breaking Bad), but you will also meet ‘special’ characters who will have unique interactions with you and ask you to create certain ‘familiar’ weapons. For example, the first we have is Claude who needs a ‘Busted Sword’ so he can find his flower girl. Next up we had POTaDOS who promised us some cake in exchange for creating her a ‘Phase Gun’. Finally, as I don’t want to ruin all of them, we have the PlayStation exclusive Kratatoes who requested ‘Powerlift Chains’ whilst obsessed with calling us ‘Bro’!

The overall writing is so delightful and well thought out though – it really holds Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! together and gives it a brilliant atmosphere and tonnes of charm. Every time I played it I was eager to get to the next special character so I could see what the writers had come up with next! However, if you aren’t a fan of puns then this probably wouldn’t amuse you as much as it did me. Holy Potatoes! also kind of reminds me of Cat Quest in both it’s aesthetic and the ‘punny’ nature – just not the gameplay. 

That’s pretty much it for the in-game options on what you do. You also have graphs showing how well you’re doing, your weapon chest and inventory – oh, and you have WhetsApp. Yup, it’s a pun of WhatsApp and it’s how all the employees and customers tell you how their feeling and how much they hate you when you don’t make them a weapon in time!

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You can even enter competitions based on the most powerful weapon created all year – I won!

Please sir, I want some more, Potatoes?!
Other than the main Holy Potatoes! game, you are also given the Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! – Spud Tales: Journey To Olympus DLC as well. This is a separate, more difficult, set of missions which tasks you with helping Herclueless forge a weapon worthy of a God, and thus, return back to Olympus. It’s recommended you don’t play this first as the difficulty is instantly a lot tougher, but you will get access to five new legendary heroes, six new mythical heroes, three legendary weapons and three new areas to explore. There are also parts of the DLC which bleed over into the main Holy Potatoes! game such as two legendary heroes, two new smiths, and four new weapons. 

Technical:
Graphically, Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! is awesome. From the various expressions on the little spuds to the overall aesthetic of each of the environments and shops – it’s all very cartoony and cute yet also highly detailed and the puns are so obvious that you don’t even need to see the name of the character they are pulling off! Sure, some parts are pretty simple, but who cares? It looks amazing and works really well on a big screen TV. The UI takes a little to get used to and it does seem a little cluttered – but it works well on the TV. You can even use the Left stick as a mouse if you don’t want to use the D-Pad. Soundwise, the music is perfect and comes from Masahiko Kimura (Castlevania, Suikoden). It’s very jolly and happy in order to keep you calm under pressure and all the sound effects sound are spot on.

Overall:
I love Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! – it’s everything I could want in a micro-management simulation game. You can manage your employees, custom-create each weapon, go exploring for items, uncover new weapons to create, expand to new locations, and even fully upgrade all the gear in your shop! What’s not to like? I’ve become obsessed with it since the developer kindly gave me a copy of the game the other day, the only issue I have is – why no Vita port 🙁 – I know it’s out on the Switch but I believe Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! would be awesome on the Vita as it’s lacking games like this. Sure we have Big Fest – which is awesome by the way – where you create and manage a massive outdoors festival, but that’s all I can think of. Either way, everyone should pick this up right now. I’ve heard the iOS and Android ones are fine but it can get a little clustered on the small screen – which I can see – but on the TV everything looks perfect. I literally can’t think of a reason not to buy it.

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! is pure heaven! It’s a management sim you can really get absorbed into and stay there for many hours at a time or just drop in every now and again for short bursts – particularly if you’re on the Switch. From the micro-management of your employees to satisfying all of your customers, everything can be adjusted and tweaked in order to become the greatest arms supplier in the land! One thing to be aware of though, the pun is strong in this one with almost every character being a pun of someone/something famous. If you like hilarious storytelling along with frantic and rather stressful gameplay, then this is the game for you! With the addition of the Herclueless DLC you gain even more content and many, many hours of gameplay. Everyone spud buy this game right now! Bad pun? Okay, I’ll get my jacket(potato)… 

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?!

£11.99
9.5

Final Score

9.5/10

The Good:

  • Really addictive gameplay
  • The puns are so good! From the characters to the overall narrative - it's pure genius
  • Graphically the game looks great on a big TV with everything being super clear and well drawn out
  • The music is very jolly and happy, even when in stressful situations with Agent 46
  • You get a load of content with the DLC included - it's not an easy game but you'll be playing for hours

The Bad:

  • No Vita version
  • Agent 46 is annoying - he swoops in and takes all your money just before paying the wages sometimes, thus making you bankrupt if you do it three times
  • The controls are fine but it's a bit fiddly sometimes as it was clearly initially created with a mouse and touch-screen in mind (although the mouse on Left stick works pretty well but it is a bit slow)
  • If you progress too fast then you can get yourself stuck. It's best to take your time as there is no time limit in the game.

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