I suppose everyone has gotta make a living and, while I can be a cheapskate at times, we all have to rely on how capitalism works in order to survive in this world. The same applies within the context of video-games, as I am always happy to be able to use my money for something worthwhile, be it upgrades, items, or other services. So who made the biggest impression on me within this line of work?
Before we get to this list, I would like to establish a couple of rules. First, I must be able to actually buy from these merchants, so you won’t see Prince Fleaswallow from Parappa the Rapper here as he only offers a dope rap for free and nothing else. Second: these merchants must help the playable character, not be controlled by the player him-/herself. So sadly, the adorable Recette from Recettear, and the jolly Torneko from Dragon Quest 4, won’t be on this list. With that said, here are my favorite merchants that left a strong impression on me. For better or worse.
#12 Shabunga – Starfox Adventures
I might not be a huge fan of this title, which is not because of the shift of genre, but rather due to its less-than-stellar quality, besides the visuals. Regardless, I do love Starfox Adventures’ concept and the risks it took, despite that it was originally supposed to be a totally different game. One of the most intriguing and bizarre characters within this title, though, is the shopkeeper. He seems to be the only Sharpclaw who speaks English and might be a ghost due to his lack of legs.
This strange creature raises so many questions, that I am actually fascinated by him. A neat aspect to him as a shopkeeper is that you can actually haggle with him and see if you can get items for cheaper. However, push him too far and he will ask you to get out of his store. He is low on this list due to being more memorable for his voice and being just a bizarre inclusion, rather than for being a good salesman. However, his voice is iconic and unsettling, yet humorous, and being memorable will at least pique one’s curiosity for a visit.
#11 The Merchant – Resident Evil 4
Of course, this creep had to be on this list. He is probably the most iconic merchant on here, due to his uncanny look, carrying tons of important merchandises within his coat, and his quotable lines and delivery, such as the tagline of this list. Interestingly, it is also believed that he is one of the villagers, and you are never sure if he is infected, how he can move within the blink of an eye to the next location, or even where he gets the weapons from?
This is something I would love to speculate more on, but sadly, while he is a reliable and important salesman, that is all he is. He basically does his job and while it is impressive to do so within a village of infected inhabitants that are reminiscent of zombies (despite not being zombies), it does not seem to affect him one bit. Maybe he has a thing for Leon and is thus so determined to sell him stuff? I honestly do not know. I only know that I am more curious about who he is than what he sells. Despite that, I am always in for purchasing the weapons he offers, so I am no stranger to this guy in general. Why he does not sell his ammo to you though, I have no sodding clue.
#10 Dr. Zed – Borderlands
While Borderlands is a hit and miss series, it is hard to not admire some of its aspects, be it its attempt at combining two genres, or for going more and more insane with its style and concept. One staple that has always been entertaining for me, is the medic Dr. Zed. While there are certainly other entertaining salesmen within this series, Zed is simply terrifying due to not having a license, yet being the only medic in this world, except for the classes. Luckily, he is kind enough to remind you of this fact, experiments in the most psychotic ways to make sure he will be a more proficient doctor, and in a wasteland with insanity being the norm, he is probably one of the few you can trust simply because he wants to keep you alive. Whether it is for experimenting or wealth I am not sure of, but at least it’s better than nothing. And would you really dare to say no to his face?
#9 Auto – Megaman 7
Despite that it might be odd to have a robot as a mechanic, I suppose it is no different than the doctor above, but this is at least one I want to visit on more than one occasion. Auto is not just helpful to Mega Man in order to provide him with useful upgrades such as the Rush-adaptor, faster climbing, or items like E-tanks, but is a genuinely nice guy who is a bit on the silly side. He is always supportive and joyful, doing whatever he can to help his family, be it working as a good assistant for Dr. Light, or taking on the role of a big brother to Mega Man and Roll. Also, you do need screws to fix stuff, so why not help your older brother out by providing him with the tools to do so?
#8 The Singing Shopkeeper – Crypt of the Necrodancer
Sometimes, it is just the idea that you are close to salvation that drives you to go on. Crypt of the Necrodancer is an intense roguelike dungeon crawler where you must act to the beat of the music in order to gain the best outcome. This is a challenging game, but whenever you hear the shopkeeper’s song, it is like the angels’ singing itself. He always sings with the beat to the music and whatever items he has are enough to make your day, be they small or big. He comes in different shapes and forms, and while he has no clear backstory (as of now), it is just his presence that is simply wonderful with an awesome voice, tucked deep within these dangerous dungeons. Hearing him sing is like reaching the store before closing time and being able to buy whatever you crave one Saturday-night: You don’t care who runs the store, you just wanna kiss him/her for existing and letting you buy their products.
#7 Drebin 893 – Metal Gear Solid 4
This is probably the most intriguing merchant on this list, which is not hard to imagine when he is from a Kojima-title. The weapons-dealer Drebin 893 comes with a strong backstory which I will only say has to do with his numbered name, to avoid spoilers, and doesn’t take sides in the war that MGS4 centers around. Despite this, he at least has some ethical standards, such as not endangering his own customers, so he is definitely a salesman you can trust, right? Actually, his inclusion is both immersive and approachable in the game-mechanics, due to him always purchasing equipment that is useless to you when you pick them up, and how the actual weekdays can affect what items can be purchased from him. He is probably the most convenient and supportive salesman on this list, and one who is literally a click on the start-button away. How can you not love him?
#6 Neko – Secret of Mana
It is impressive when you can get away with shady deals and still be met with at least half a smile, and if anyone could show what kind of lovable pricks cats can be, Neko is probably the poster-boy for it. This furball always meets you out in the open and, while it is nice to meet a merchant outside of a town, he sells everything from healing-items to appropriate equipment at double of the normal price. The worst part is that it is more convenient to purchase from him than going all the way back to towns. It is also hard to not be purrsuaded by him in order to actually buy stuff, especially due to the challenge the game can offer early on. He is a sly, but charming salesman with his purrsonality and puns in the remake. Besides, he saves your game and despite how much it can hurt your wallet, it is not unreasonable to actually buy something from him when you need the items or equipment. When someone can sell you stuff for double the price on more than one occasion, you know someone is brilliant at their work. Or perhaps, you are just desperate to save the world.
#5 The Weapons Dealer – Zeliard
This is a childhood favorite of mine. Zeliard is an old school action-platformer with some RPG-elements added in for good measure, including one single weapon-dealer. He, as well as other NPCs who sell you stuff, is essential for getting through this game, as enemies can be fierce and dangerous. While I could talk about the psychic who only heals your health literally bit by bit, the weapons-dealer simply terrified me as a child. If you go into his store and browse without buying anything, he will be pissed, smash the table so hard every weapon and armor falls down, and ask you to not waste his time. Because of this, I always waited until I knew I could buy a new weapon from him before confronting him. Not that making him smile is much less creepy. And that is why he is on the list: despite how terrified I got, I still needed his service and advice on weapons.
#4 Mabe Village Shopkeeper – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
While I was originally thinking of Beedle from Wind Waker as he is just a random merchant out on the open sea or perhaps one of the many iconic merchants from Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask, this one stood out to me due to actually enforcing consequences. You see, in Link’s Awakening you can actually steal from the shopkeeper in order to save up some rupees. However, should you ever return, the shopkeeper will outright kill you for doing so, and if you keep up with your bad behavior, your name will forever be changed to THIEF. Accompanied with terrifying music and no possibility to run away once you reenter the store, this one I remembered not just for the visuals, but for how much he can have an effect on the player, and you bet I was always thoughtful on being fair and honest from that day on. My childhood was kinda scary.
#3 Rodin – Bayonetta
A great showcase for how being cool is enough to be a good salesman. Bayonetta one and two, are probably two of the most stylish games I have ever played, with one of the best female-leads ever, and you bet I am excited for the third installment. Of course, with a stylish game with an awesome protagonist, you also need a badass merchant, and Rodin is pretty much the one best fitting this description. Being a demon weapons dealer, a bartender, and the proprietor of the Gates of Hell, Rodin travels to the worst areas in order to provide the best items for his lovely costumer. He even has cool lore about being a fallen angel, with some high statuses being lost. Now residing in the human world, he figured why not just open a bar and help someone who could give Dante a run for his money? And this is where it becomes amazing: you get to look at some fantastic products from the world of demons, while also being able to chill with a drink. Can’t get much better than booze and weapons from hell, and Rodin is making this a reality and then some. Maybe Doomguy should consider a visit.
#2 Tom Nook – Animal Crossing
What an insufferable prick. Tom Nook is not only the main-salesman of the Animal Crossing-series, but he is also a strong businessman with a job within the real-estate agency. Because of this, the first thing he sells you is a house that you have to pay mortgage on and it does not stop here. He will always try his best to keep you indebted by expanding or customizing your house, and of course, you want that to happen right? However, you will then need to fill in these empty spaces your house has acquired, and Mr. Nook surely got you covered with plenty of furniture, plants, and even other items like clothing, music, and tools.
Tom Nook is more than just a salesman, he is a businessman banking on your life. In fact in Animal Crossing e+, he will even sell you items after closing time if you are desperate enough. Though what makes him actually a terrifying person you do not want to annoy, is his unclear past. It seems our raccoon wears both a literal and figurative mask, with some trivia I do not dare to spoil. Just pay your rent, and be happy he does not charge you more. Like with every installment in Animal Crossing. Why do I love this series again?
#1 The Guardian of Metal – Brütal Legend
I will admit, Brütal Legends is a game I still do not know what to make of, but it sticks close to my heart as a fan of metal. Also, who doesn’t love Jack Black? The merchant of this title is the one and only Prince of Darkness: Ozzy Osbourn! He is also the keeper of timeless secrets, but mainly wants to fix your car, equipment, and even teaches you some neat combat-moves. Isn’t it great how the Prince of Darkness can both make your equipment and ride as awesome as possible, while also being a wise old man who knows about the world’s lore and how to kick ass? Only the Prince of Darkness should have this kind of knowledge, and therefore, who else than Ozzy? Oh, and he, of course, fixes your guitar while providing you with some sweet metal! Sold!
There are plenty of merchants to choose from in the world of Video-Games, such as Vincent Dorin from Portrait of Ruins or plenty of different ones from the Dark Souls series, but it is hard to put them all on a list, so this is only a fraction that happens to be my personal favorites. However, wisdom and knowledge are priceless and while nowadays we have online faqs and guides to depend on, old wise men/women have been a common trope for media. So Casper, would you mind sharing your wisdom and direct us to your 12 favorites who fit this description?