Langrisser was once a franchise praised by fans of strategy titles. However, the series created by Masaya Games was forgotten after the first five installments. With the recent launch of Langrisser Mobile and the return of the first two games to the current generation of consoles by NIS America, it is possible that this series, once considered as a rival of today’s incontestable Fire Emblem, is going to live a second youth. It may get an opportunity to rise from the ashes, as it seemed to be forgotten with the last century, and get a new chance to demonstrate to many what it really is capable of.
The story of every Langrisser game might be quite common to people who are familiar with the genre: a good old confrontation between Good and Evil, the forces of darkness versus the forces of light. Basically: the kingdom is threatened and a hero rises to lead a group of fighters who will join his cause to end the war and bring peace back to the world.
In Langrisser I, that hero is Prince Ledin, who is forced into exile from Baldea, his own kingdom, after an enemy invasion. If you want to reclaim the throne, you will have to reconquer your kingdom, and to achieve this, you will have to find allies to fight alongside you on this quest. Of course, this does not stop here, and in the background, a more sinister plot is forged.
On the other hand, Langrisser II puts us in the shoes of Elwin, a traveler who will influence the future of the world, depending on the choices he makes and the loyalties he pledges. The plot of this opus is much more complex than Langrisser I since our actions and endeavors toward other characters can end up having serious consequences in the way the story unfolds.
In both games, though, the story has been extended thanks to new choices. Yet, these ramifications are much more accentuated in the second installment, in which they particularly stand out. Chapters are accessible from the menu. The player will therefore be able to see a flow chart that tells them in which chapter there may be different ramifications to change the course of the story. It will definitely come in handy for players who want to complete both titles in their entirety. According to NIS America itself, there is a total of 22 story endings, which is quite an impressive number.
The gameplay is actually very similar to the now-classic Fire Emblem. If you are not familiar with the snapshot of the game you see below, you basically have to move your group of fighters through a map, all the while trying to achieve a few objectives. The only difference between Langrisser and Fire Emblem is that we have both commanders and mercenaries here, something that may remind you of Three Houses, though it does not work in the same way. In every battle, commanders are deployed first and mercenaries show up later on. They have to be paid and are necessary to advance on the battlefield. Over time, the number of mercenaries one can hire increases. The fighting skills of these warriors is tightly linked to their physical proximity with their commander, as, if they move away, their attacks will lose effectiveness. Each unit has one action, with the exception of attacking after moving if you’re in the attack zone.
Essentially once you attack, that unit’s turn is over. Once one uses magic, that turn is over. Being near to the commander provides the most bonuses to your squad’s stats. Each commander has an Area of Command, as long as your expendable pawns are in your Area of Command, they will receive a bonus to their defense and attack. There’s even more incentive to stick together since each mercenary directly perpendicular to the commander receives 20% of the health back after each turn. If a commander is wiped, then say goodbye to the remaining squad as well. The brilliance of this strategy is this also applies to your enemies. You may come across enemy commanders who are tough and their squad doing most of the work while they take up their turn to cast a healing spell, but should you manage to focus most of your attention on the commander, you won’t have to worry about the remaining grunts anymore.
Commanding a large group of mercenaries is quite tedious, but should you decide to move mercenaries automatically in accordance with the orders that the commander gave at the end of the turn, it may look like the fastest way to advance if moving each unit proves to be boring or unnecessary to you; but to use them to their full potential, and get more involved in the role of a general commanding his forces, moving them individually is the best way to go.
Battles prove to be lengthy like most SRPGs. It may seem boring to people who are not invested in these types of games or those who like to advance quickly in them. As in every SRPG, each time you engage in battle, an animated sequence of chibi art-styled characters begin to attack. However, it can become tiresome after watching too many of these scenes. Thankfully, it is possible to expedite these animated sequences.
The story is made of different chapters that indicate what point of the story you reached, and scenarios are the actual playable parts. Every scenario has win/lose conditions that are influenced by the story. Story progression can change when certain conditions are met in a scenario. For example, if one of your party members falls at a specific time in the story, a new story route will open. Langrisser I offers 20 chapters and 8 different story routes while Langrisser II has 21 chapters and 13 different routes. Out of the two, the second opus has a stronger narrative and faster detour possibilities. Detours mean the possibility to play the game again but in a different way, for those interested in discovering how these new routes change story outcomes.
In both games, you level up and earn CP to unlock new classes – with a class system that has a grand total of 50. Each class is loaded with its own unique passive abilities, allowing you to switch to whatever style suits you the most. In addition to allowing you to customize your playstyle, obtaining new classes enables an increase in the number of mercenaries you can hire. Here, mercenaries stand out as a unique characteristic that differentiates Langrisser from the usual Fire Emblem, even though we will admit that many basic features are shared by both series. When annihilating enemy units – whether it is with the commander or mercenaries – or using magic, the commanders gain experience and level up.
This Langrisser I & II pack has some interesting options. The graphics were thoroughly considered and improved, with character redesigns created by a new artist. However, if what you want is to enjoy the original art Satoshi Urushihara gave life to, you have that option too. The only problem is, the newly-added event scenes will be omitted if we opt for the original style. Therefore, the recommended advice is to enjoy a renewed art style. Moreover, the sprites are nice but offer very little value to the game. If you actually get tired of them or simply want to move faster during fights, the option to do without them exists. As for the scenarios, it is reminiscent of what could be experienced in the good old GameBoy Advance Fire Emblem, but in a more colorful and smoother way.
The game music and sound effects went through the same process, as there is an original soundtrack for the most nostalgic players, as well as a revamped version that meets the same standards as its visual art counterpart. The original soundtrack remains enjoyable for those that are all retro, and we owe that to the veteran composer Noriyuki Iwadare, the same composer of many amazing JRPGs such as the Lunar series and Grandia series. The remastered version is great as well, with additions to the original compositions making them more pleasant to listen to. Likewise, the options regarding subtitles are: English, Chinese and Japanese. On the other hand, all voices are in Japanese.
If you love the classic Fire Emblem series and you have never had the opportunity to play Langrisser before, this pack offers some interesting additions that will definitely help you right this wrong. NIS America has renewed various aspects of the game series, although they could have done even better on the graphic level. Moreover, a shorter loading time and more fluid battles would have been welcomed.