Shopkeepers are essential to the video game experience, because who else is gonna sell us our stuff? If you want to hear the conversations behind this list, you should check out the Leaderboard podcast, the show where we discuss, debate, and often argue about the games that should make this list. So, without further ado, here are the Top 10 shopkeepers in games.
10) Wirt the Peg-Legged Boy – Diablo
After being kidnapped and tortured in the midst of a demon raid, Wirt barely escaped and lost his leg in the process. Stricken with grief and longing to leave Tristram with his crush, Gillian, Wirt the Peg-Legged Boy became an outcast and peddler outside of the main town of Diablo 1. Wirt was infamous for swindling adventurers passing by, as he’d charge them a whopping 50 gold just to see what single item he was selling. To his credit, though, Wirt often sold rare gear which was otherwise hard to obtain.
After Diablo returns in the series’ second game, Tristram falls to ruin. If players search the rubble where the town once stood, they’ll find Wirt’s skeleton and along with it piles of gold. While it’s heartbreaking that he never saved enough to escape Tristram, players can carry a piece of Wirt the Peg-Legged Boy with them forever, since the game allows them to loot his skeletal leg and use it as a weapon. Rest In Peace, Wirt.
9) Drebin – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
The Metal Gear Solid 4 arms dealer, Drebin, presents himself as cool, calm, and collected while at the heart of a raging war. What makes this character likable is his cold-hearted willingness to play both sides. As a part of a larger group of arms dealers called the Drebins, his first and only priority is money. That is of course until later in the story of Metal Gear Solid 4, where after the layers are peeled in ludicrously Kojima fashion, it turns out Drebin actually plays a more critical role in the main narrative. His style cannot be overstated as his deep voice, thirst for canned soda, and his pet monkey grant him a memorable presence in Metal Gear Solid 4.
8) Shopkeeper – The Messenger
The Messenger wouldn’t be half the game it ends up being if it weren’t for characters like The Shopkeeper. He’s the odd cloaked figure that isn’t steeped in mystery so to make up for it, y’know, they actually give him character. He’s as informative and helpful as you’d expect someone in his line of work to be, but he quickly grows into something else entirely. Before you know it, he’ll be regaling you with an assortment of irreverent and most importantly, funny stories that your player character tries and fails to find the depth in, only for the shopkeeper to chastise him for being too much of a stiff. The humor of the game just wouldn’t work as well if it weren’t for The Shopkeeper.
7) Beedle – The Legend of Zelda Series
Making his debut in Zelda: The Wind Waker, Beedle is a traveling salesman with a quirky personality. He’s just one in a line of characters who just appear across multiple games and theoretically timelines, such as Skyward Sword and Breath of The Wild and with every appearance, Link can rely on him to be there to sell him items when he needs them most. Donning a bowl cut and and a large, beetle-shaped backpack, his appearance in Breath of The Wild is especially notable but his goofy personality most shines through in the excellent vocal noises he makes. His large nose, small round eyes, and overall dopey demeanor is why we love him.
6) Emil – Nier: Automata
Emil is almost definitely the most complicated shopkeeper on this list but that’s par for the course for anything related to Nier: Automata. He can be found blaring obnoxiously catchy music from his crazy-fast scooter that carries him over the deserted ruins of the abandoned cityscape and you actually have to hit him in order to stop him long enough to shop. What complicates things beyond this otherwise eccentric appearance is that he’s one of a handful of characters that existed in the previous entry in the series and makes the leap to this mostly disconnected game. His existence, given the timeline, is just as mysterious as his appearance is charming and glib, setting you up for the gut punch that is his arc, because oh yes, he has one and it’s about as tragic as anything Yoko Taro gets his hands on. He’s someone who much like the game subverts all preconceived notions you may have, making him a better character, shop-keep and a great mascot for the game, even if what he sells isn’t worth a damn.
5) Funky Kong – Donkey Kong 64
One of the most unique aspects of Donkey Kong 64 is how the game creates new interesting characters and repurposes the already existing ones. In this game, Cranky Kong is a mad scientist, Candy Kong runs a music shop, and Funky Kong becomes your weapons dealer. You know, all normal career paths for a pack of apes. Boasting some of the game’s best music as you enter the front door, Funky’s store is the go to spot to buy upgrades for the Kong’s weapons whether it’s Diddy Kong’s Peanut Popgun or Chunky Kong’s Pineapple launcher. Leave it to Funky Kong to keep everyone packing heat. Funky Kong himself, exemplifies personality as he dons a rocket launcher casually slung over his back and acts out explosions mid-transaction. It’s a sight to behold.
4) Munehisa Iwai – Persona 5
Shopkeepers don’t need to be anything more than a one-dimensional exchange in order to get the job done and someone absolutely should’ve informed whoever designed Iwai and his gun shop in Persona 5 of this. From the second you walk in, a camera angle communicates an unease and stuffiness only further carried by the beginning of its theme, a track called Layer Cake. Iwai is a fine character in his own right whose story is capable of being expanded upon as you grow your relationship with him, but nothing in the game develops quite as lovely as Layer Cake. The deceptively ominous synth intro, the kick-drum and hi-hat that help it hit its first crescendo, the pure funky excellence that follows, those horns and of course, that INCREDIBLE BASS combine to make shopping at Iwai’s an addiction that’s hard to kick. Put that side by side with Iwai’s gruff tone and his excellent selection of weapons to make a winning combo, through and through.
3) Burgerpants – Undertale
Burgerpants, the last vendor players will discover in Undertale, is the cashier of the Mettaton-Brand Burger Emporium which is located in the Mettaton Hotel. While Burgerpants sells the game’s most expensive and potent food, that’s not why the character is so beloved.
Burgerpants is a 19 year old cat-like creature who dreams of being an actor; and being the embodiment of existential dread and social anxiety, he is a character that anyone who has ever worked in food service can relate to. When the player attempts to talk to him while ordering from the menu, he’ll spit out unsolicited life advice like “I’m 19 years old and I’ve already wasted my entire life.” When threatened by the player in Undertale’s Genocide Run, Burgerpants calmly reminds the player that he can’t go to hell, because he’s all out of vacation days.
The character’s charm is further enhanced by the hilarious facial expressions he makes, and when paired with his relatable and genuinely funny dialogue tree, it’s easy to understand why Burgerpants is one of the most memorable shopkeepers in video games.
2) Tom Nook – Animal Crossing
This raccoon is the owner of the town shop in Animal Crossing games; and is responsible for mortgaging homes to the player and other villagers in town. Tom Nook is the character that players need to visit in order to renovate or expand their home. Due to the hefty price tag attached to Nook’s services, players are perpetually indebted to the raccoon, and for this reason, not many people like Tom Nook. Regardless, the buttoned-up shopkeeper is always around to help the player, even if by doing so he benefits his business.
If you ask many people, there’s likely no shopkeeper more iconic or as widely recognizable as Tom Nook. There’s no urgent need to upgrade our homes or expand our property, but when our materialistic desires inevitably get the best of us, Tom Nook is there to capitalize.
Merchant – Resident Evil 4
Will – Moonlighter
1) Brok and Sindri – God of War (2018)
Shopkeepers in games are often forgettable, lacking depth and placed in games solely for the purpose of hocking their wares to the next adventurer. On rare occasions though, we see characters that pull us deeper into the lore of the game and make us truly invested in the story, even that of a lowly shopkeeper. Arguably, the best examples of this are shown in Brok and Sindri in the most recent installment in the God of War series.
True, these dwarven brothers are here to upgrade your equipment and sell the latest goods but there’s so many more layers to peel back too. Brok is the grumpy old curmudgeon who punctuates nearly every interaction with an insult or distasteful (but funny) one-liner. Sindri is dainty, refined brother who specializes in polite over-exaggerations. While they may seem like polar opposites, they are vastly more intertwined than one may imagine. Their talking down of one another, the way they mock the others technique and their combativeness all evolve into a B plot that runs the course of the entirety of the story that more than anything, gives the game a lightheartedness, character and warmth that is at times absent. They’re a sterling example of how to entwine even the most basic concepts of the game into a story without feeling forced and are a testament to the work put into bringing the world of Norse mythology to life, even if they’re just its shopkeepers.
So those are OK Beast’s picks for the best shopkeepers in games. How do you feel about our list? Are there any shopkeepers that you think should’ve been included? To catch up on previous Leaderboard episodes, or to read our other Top 10 lists, click here.