A Fight of Good and Evil
Strategy RPGs used to be my jam. Final Fantasy Tactics, Suikoden Tactics, La Pucelle Tactics; hell, any game with ‘tactics’ in its name could have won me over in my younger days. Disgaea led my adult SRPGs, but it is the older generation of strategy games that I remember most fondly. So of course when Langrisser I & II came across my desk for review, I jumped on the opportunity.
Langrisser I & II debuted in 1991. In America, the first game was known as Warsong for the Sega Genesis. It featured large strategic combat that pitted units of forces against each other. Not only was this before my time (I would have been three), but the style of SRPG drastically differed from the games I am accustomed to playing. Even other SRPGs of the time, like Shining Force or Fire Emblem offered up gameplay similar to Langrisser but different in ideology.
So what is Langrisser? For starters, it’s the name of a legendary sword, protected by the King of Baldea, that has sealed away absolute evil. Both games are somewhat related but feature different protagonists (Ledin in I and Elwin in II) set many years apart – so much so that the kingdom of Baldea, the Langrisser, and Ledin are things of legend in the second game. Each game boasts large scale strategy battles against a variety of enemies, pitting hundreds of units against each other. Unit types have strengths and weaknesses against certain foes, so strategic planning of your advancements is required.
Often mid-battle, new enemy units will arrive. This requires you to not only meticulously plot your initial strategy but maintain a plan to deal with enemy reinforcements. Each mission is objective dependent, so you can find creative ways to skirt around newly arrived enemies by completing those goals. For example, if your mission objective is to eliminate the commanding officer, and three squads flank you, killing the officer would end the battle. If you’re finding your forces weakening, strategy becomes key. Of course, if you’re flexing and desire experience, then it is way better to drive off the entire brigade.
In addition to thoughtful combat and battles, the player can craft his unit setup and character growth to his/her preferences. Before each battle begins, you’ll have the opportunity to build your unit with the types of infantry you prefer. Choosing the right types can give you the edge in any particular battle based upon what you’ll be facing. Additionally, as your characters wipe out enemy squads, they’ll earn experience (making clearing each map very beneficial) and level up. As they do so, you can choose their job class to fit your play style. Each character has a number of options with a few choices filling out further than others (meaning they have additional classes for that particular job tree). Crafting a balanced squad to fit your play style will be key to maximizing your time with Langrisser and clearing stages on your own terms.
Each game offers 30+ hours of gameplay depending on your need to grind, strategy, and prowess in combat. If you’re a strategy fanatic, though, that’s 60+ hours of gameplay bliss. Additionally, retro purists will enjoy the option to keep original character models and soundtrack, and keep intact the overall experience. For newcomers, the remastered visuals offer a cleaner look to the game, as well as new character portraits and music.
In an age of remasters and remakes, Langrisser I & II takes the safe approach, leaving the narrative and gameplay from the originals as faithful as possible, while offering optional upgrades when possible. The overall experience is a great one for strategy RPG enthusiasts and retro gamers should appreciate the effort here, too. If you played Langrisser growing up, then it should bring a few waves of nostalgia with it. The package offers a lot of hours of gameplay for the buck, so the value is definitely there. Still, it’s a niche offering that clearly won’t be for everyone. That’s not a knock on the game, but if you’re not a fan of the genre, it likely won’t do anything to pull you in. For those of us who do enjoy this type of outing, it certainly delivers in its updated but faithful retro goodness.