PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch
March 10, 2020
Nippon Ichi Software
With fantasy turn-based tactics games like the Fire Emblem series making a splash in the west over the past few years, it’s no surprise to see the return of Langrisser I & II, two games that share their DNA and roots with other beloved tactical RPGs. An updated visual design, a remastered soundtrack, and a few nifty gameplay tweaks have prepared these classic titles for a contemporary audience.
Langrisser I & II is a compilation of the first two Langrisser games, originally released on the Sega Megadrive in the early nineties. The games have been re-released and remade a number of times over the years, with varying commercial success and rare English translations. In recent years, a mobile game based on Langrisser has soared in popularity, making this a timely remake of the original games.
In this compilation you can play either Langrisser I or Langrisser II at any time, choosing from the main menu. Both games begin with a questionnaire that determines your main character’s starting stats and equipment. There’s not much of a story to be had here. While there is a narrative, it mostly serves as an excuse to pit you in various strategic scenarios. Voice-acting is provided in Japanese only, and the plots are simple and comfortingly trope-heavy. Langrisser I has you venturing across the land to recover a magic sword, while the second game is a little more complex with faction conflicts and TWO magic swords. The decisions you make while playing influence the outcome of the stories, especially in Langrisser II which lets you unleash your inner edgelord and join the Demon Tribe faction.
The battlegrounds of Langrisser are where you’ll be spending most of your time as you plot tactical routes to slaughter your enemies, hoard EXP, and save the day. Your main players are your Commander units who are named party members who can utilise their special abilities to inspire troops or cast spells. Each Commander begins the scenario with a troupe of Mercenaries, which are your ordinary battle units. These come in several different types with strengths and weaknesses. For example, flying units are weak to archers, while seafaring units get a bonus while battling in water. The positioning of Mercenaries in regard to their Commander matters as well, with troupes receiving stat buffs when close to their fearless leader.
Scenarios in Langrisser I are functional and just varied enough to tie the loose story threads together. You’ve got all your typical tactical RPG objectives: kill the specific commander, protect the villagers, reach the objective, etc. Playing through Langrisser II is where the gameplay is shaken up a little, with a slightly more compelling plot to keep things interesting. Different choices you make change who your allies and Commanders are, as well as the format of some scenarios. You can also return to any previously played chapter and try it again, in case you missed out on some loot on your first go, or if you want to try a different story path. This adds to the replayability of both games, with a single playthrough providing around 15 hours of content.
Visually, the games are mostly easy on the eye. Lovers of sexy anime models will be very pleased with Langrisser’s dedication to fanservice, with some characters looking like they came straight out of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The character portraits are lovingly crafted and full of life, and there’s even an option of reverting to the character designs of the original games – they are fabulously angular and incredibly camp. I love them. The menu artwork and battle backgrounds are also gorgeous. Unfortunately, the character sprites themselves wouldn’t look out of place in a mobile game. It would have been nice to see a little more originality in the sprite design. While they get the job done, the generic little warriors cheapen the overall experience.
It’s in playing through missions back to back that Langrisser shows its age, for better and worse. While I can appreciate a game that teaches kinesthetically, I could have used more of an introduction into the game’s mechanics. Langrisser, like many classic JRPGs, throws you into a sea of menus and expects you to understand what all of its stats mean. A tutorial or an in-game guide would have gone a long way in helping me to enjoy the game sooner.
The amount of micromanagement required in levelling your Commanders became overwhelmingly cumbersome after I had assembled a large party, particularly because you can only accrue a finite amount of experience in each scenario, limiting grinding potential. I found myself replaying scenarios because I had accidentally allowed the wrong Commander to hog the experience.
However, the battles themselves are addicting and faithfully provide that classic “just one more turn” feeling. I enjoyed fiddling with the placement of my Mercenaries, and plotting out strategies to crush my foes. For this reason I recommend playing on Nintendo Switch, as the ability to play on the go is highly desirable compared to any potential visual improvements in the PlayStation 4 and PC versions.
- Addicting strategy gameplay
- Beautiful anime-style character design
- Lots of content and replayability
- Managing EXP is frustrating
- Character sprites are underwhelming
- Lacks a good tutorial
Langrisser I & II is a faithful remake and a solid addition to the fantasy turn-based tactics genre. Avoid if you’re looking for a deep and engaging story, but definitely check it out if you’re starved for that old-fashioned grid RPG action.