Shop ’til you Drop: Stores in Games

Have you finished your holiday shopping? Or are you just getting started?? Since I’ve been browsing for the perfect gifts, I’ve been thinking back to all the times I’ve spent gold, rupees, or gil during all my virtual travels. Which shops were the most interesting to visit? Below are the Top Ten choices for notable stores in video games!

10. Shops – Dragon Warrior (NES 1986)

Don’t want to buy anything? But thou must!

While there’s nothing overly impressive about the shops in Dragon Warrior, I have to include them because they were my first ever experience with commerce in a video game. Sure, Mario collected coins – but he never spent them! Here, our hero can buy such fine commodities as herbs, torches, and dragon’s scales in addition to your standard weapons and armor. Later on, there are shops for magic keys that will let you access all the doors you’ve been seeing locked up throughout the game. Want to buy lots of something? I hope you love reading!! You can only buy one item at a time, and there is a ton of text accompanied with each purchase. Yes, it was cumbersome – but I’ll never forget my first time!

9. Merchants – Diablo 2 (Windows/Mac OS 2000)

You have quite a treasure there in that Horadric Cube (because it can store a few more things).

There are a plethora of merchants scattered throughout the world of Sanctuary, and all of their shops look like an episode of Hoarders. Just look at this screen! There is stuff everywhere. What I appreciated about the Diablo games was their D&D-like approach to holding items. If you can’t fit something into your predetermined grid of squares, then you’ve clearly run out of pocket space! Another interesting aspect about Diablo merchants is how every one of them wants to give you their entire life story. Just listen to what the first merchant in the game has to say to you:

“I am Akara, High Priestess of the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye. I welcome you, traveler, to our camp, but I’m afraid I can offer you but poor shelter within these rickety walls.

You see, our ancient Sisterhood has fallen under a strange curse. The mighty Citadel from which we have guarded the gates to the East for generations, has been corrupted by the evil Demoness, Andariel.

I still can’t believe it… but she turned many of our sister Rogues against us and drove us from our ancestral home. Now the last defenders of the Sisterhood are either dead or scattered throughout the wilderness.

I implore you, stranger. Please help us. Find a way to lift this terrible curse and we will pledge our loyalty to you for all time.”


Okay, um, that’s cool. But, can I just buy some potions?

8. Beedle The Legend of Zelda series
(first appeared in The Wind Waker; Gamecube 2002)

Fun Fact: Beedle is accidentally listed as “Terry” in UK/Irish instruction manuals.

Appearing in SIX mainline Zelda games, Beedle always has a healthy supply of unique items for our silent protagonist. While he is generally accessible by boat (Windwaker, The Phantom Hourglass) or by land (The Minish Cap, Breath of the Wild), traversing to his Airshop in Skyward Sword can be somewhat of a nightmare (Spirit Tracks is just barely better).

Skyward Sword already ranks as my least favorite Zelda game (yes, I like Zelda 2 better!). In order to get to Beedle, you first have to slingshot a projectile into a bell at the bottom of his flying house. Then, he’ll lower a rope that you can climb. However, if his house is in a weird spot, then it’s very likely that you won’t even be able to reach the rope. If this happens, then you have to reset the screen in order to get him flying around again. To make matters even more annoying, if you should choose not to buy anything from the shop, Beedle will drop you out of the building via a trap door in the floor. How’s that for customer service? I’m sending this to corporate.

7. Store – Kid Icarus (NES 1986)

It looks like you actually only have three things.

I don’t know why my mind went there, but every time I went into a shop in Kid Icarus, I always read the shopkeeper’s text in the voice of Bobcat Goldthwait – making extra sure to give emphasis on “EV’rything.”

How do you pay for your desired items? With the bloody hearts of your fallen enemies! I would really like to know the story behind how hearts became standard currency in games like this. Furthermore, Pit’s white tunic is awfully clean for carrying around so many organs.

I love how all shops are also equipped with a pit of flames that can actually hurt you should you decide to bathe yourself. Maybe we should be adding this feature to Target or Walmart for those rowdy customer interactions.

Speaking of rowdy customer interactions, it’s a little-known fact that Pit can actually “intimidate” the shopkeeper by pressing A and B on the second controller. If you meet a certain criteria, the owner may reduce his prices. However, if you’re not “intimidating” enough, the prices will skyrocket! Again, we should definitely be applying these concepts to the real world. Piss me off? Now you’re paying double!

6. Arms Mart – Jump Raven (Mac OS 1994)

Welcome to Arms Mart!
Butthead on our ass!

I’ve been waiting to talk about this game for a long time and am so excited to finally get it on a list! Jump Raven came out in 1994, and young me thought it was the most BA of all the games. Taking place in a futuristic New York and sporting a heavy metal soundtrack, you control a bounty hunter driving a souped-up hovercraft who has been tasked with retrieving the DNA of endangered species by blowing up the criminals who stole it. Alongside you is your trusty, hand-picked, foul-mouthed co-pilot who can help with navigation or artillery. A highlight of the game for me was being able to interview each candidate in order to select the best one for your style of playing (I always went with Dogstar because he swore the most).

When it was time to shop, a woman would appear on your hub and ask you to “standby for rendezvous” (at the time, I didn’t know what rendezvous meant). Then, a giant ship would appear above you, and you’d have to avoid enemy fire as you tried to dock your hovercraft into the bay of the floating vehicle. “Welcome to Arms Mart!” greeted the woman in her eccentric, English accent.

Here, you could purchase lasers, bombs, rockets, and other weapons for your hovercraft. The selection screen always reminded me of games like Fantasy Zone, Super Off Road, or Rock and Roll Racing, and many games have since used this same type of layout for their shop screens. While there’s nothing terribly exciting beyond that, I always enjoyed the few minutes of reprieve from the ensuing chaos that awaited below when you finally exited the shop.

If you haven’t before heard of Jump Raven, then you should definitely “standby for” a “rendezvous” with this game!

5. Long Library Shop – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1 1997)

Oh, it’s you, Master Alucard. What do you need?

I don’t typically think of a library as my go-to place to purchase my essentials. I imagine that the Master Librarian has been around so long, though, that he just happens to have gathered an insurmountable amount of items – making him a perfect candidate to be on an episode of Romanian Pickers.

Upon encountering him for the first time, he says, “I cannot aid one who opposes the Master.” Leonardo da Vinci, I mean, the Librarian quickly changes his tune when Alucard tells him that he “won’t go unrewarded.” Money talks – and I guess Dracula’s followers aren’t that faithful after all. I hope the Count doesn’t find out about this!

Also, the music here is a total bop:

4. The Fourside Department Store – Earthbound (SNES 1994)

Fear and respect that escalator!

Four floors of shopping extravaganza! Just be sure to double check that there aren’t any Department Store Spooks that are haunting the building before you get started. When Ness and company first enter the Fourside Department Store, they are warned by a mouse that the lights will get turned off. What? That’s crazy! Business seems normal, and the party is free to explore the full variety of shops. There’s a toy store, sports store, burger shop…heck, there’s even a sketchy arms dealer who sells bombs in a back room.

Upon trying to leave, however, the lights do indeed turn off and Paula is kidnapped by a green blobby-looking creature. Forced to fight an onslaught of electric guitars, albums, and cups of scalding coffee, Ness and Jeff must now make their way back to the top floor in order to rescue their companion. This sounds like the grounds for a future lawsuit.

After everything is said and done, the spook is defeated, Paula is safe, and business is back to normal. What was the cause of this strange incident? Well, in true corporate fashion, the media reports that this was all caused by the mouse who predicted the blackout. Always blame the little guy!

3. The Merchant – Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube 2005)

What are ya buyin’?

Okay, so I’ve never played Resident Evil 4, but after seeing clips of this guy, I now need to add it to my wishlist. Paul Mercier, who also voices Leon in the game, does such a fantastic job bringing this character to life. He grew up in Maryland but eventually went on to study at the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. It’s evident that this training has paid off, and he now has an extensive list of other games for which he has contributed his talents.

Anyway, I’ll let you equally revel in the glory that is the Resident Evil 4 merchant. Check out the clip below to hear all his best quotes.

2. Williamette Parkview Mall – Dead Rising
(Xbox 360 2006)

Do they have a Starbucks?
Throwback to when I worked in a mall and people would ask me where stores were instead of consulting the map.

Move over Mall Madness! The Williamette Shopping Mall truly has everything you could ever want. Jewerly? Try Josh’s Diamonds. Books? Hop over to Contemporary Reading. Film? Find it at Cam’s Cameras. There’s just one problem, though. The entire building has been taken over by a hoard of zombies!

My time with this game was limited to a couple play sessions over at my cousin’s house, but oh my gosh I was blown away. Nearly any item that you pick up in the stores can be a weapon against the undead. Toy light sabers, baseball bats, golf clubs – it’s all par for the course. My personal favorite is grabbing the lawn mower and plowing over large groups of white walkers.

Certainly, if it weren’t for the plague, this place would be a great place to shop. I love, too, that all the while you’re hacking off the heads of the walking dead, the mall’s delicate muzak is tinkling lightly throughout the loudspeakers. Thank you for shopping!

Honorable Mentions:

The Super Shop – Clash At Demonhead (NES 1989)

Always welcome!

Neko – Secret of Mana (SNES 1993)

Cute – but overpriced.

Shop – Fantasy Zone (Arcade 1986)

Highway to the Fantasy Zone. Ride into the Fantasy Zone.
Big wings keep on turnin’.
Just don’t get caught stealing, THIEF!

Nook’s Cranny – Animal Crossing Series
(Nintendo 2001-2020)

Dr. Seuss would be proud of the rhymes.

1. Tem’s Shop – Undertale (Steam 2015)

tem go to colleg and make u prouds!!!

That’s temmie and dis is their friend temmie!!! The residents of Temmie village are bursting with cuddly cuteness that will challenge every cat video on the internet.

It is Tem’s absolute dream to go to college so they can “pursu higher education.” But, they will never get there without your help! You can contribute by buying tem flakes, or you can buy tem flakes that are on sale, or you could also buy tem flakes that are “expensiv.” If tem flakes aren’t your thing, you could simply place one order of “tem pay 4 colleg” for 1000G. Lucky for Tem, “cool leg” only lasts for 10 seconds and doesn’t include any student loans.

Having returned with a shiny new degree in TEM STUDIES, you can now buy the Temmie Armor which is “so goods” that you have to “promise to only buy if you really needs it.” Whether you do or not, I’ll leave that choice to you.

In the meantime, Tem now wants to go to “gradskool” and has to choose between funding her education or buying your DogResidus. I don’t know, Tem. If it were me, maybe wait a few years before you do the grad school thing. Go for the DogResidus. You’ve earned it!

Thanks for stopping by to read my article! What are some iconic stores or shops that you remember in your favorite games? Let me know in the comments! Also, be sure to subscribe via e-mail to have content delivered directly to your inbox!

Published by erichagmann

Arranger / Pianist / Vocalist / Educator / Gamer

3 thoughts on “Shop ’til you Drop: Stores in Games

  1. I love this list! She’s not a shop per se, but if we’re including Beedle, I gotta hand it to two important parts of my in-game purchasing experiences! First is my girl Tressa from Octopath Traveler. She new how to get a bargain and unlike the stereotypical shopkeeps, she stayed ethical to the end. Second is O’aka the traveling merchant from FFX. When it felt like all of Spira had turned against me, O’aka was still there for me, ready to take my money!

    Amazing list though, I can’t argue with first place!

    Liked by 1 person

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