My first introduction to turn-based tactical RPGs was in the Sega Genesis with a brilliant performance. I really fell in love with the idea of having different classes of characters; each with their own stats, attacks and weaknesses play a crucial role in the battles that follow. This particular game had vibrant animated characters mixed with a strategic play style that I had never seen before. I ended up looking at the Fire Emblem series, which had many similar features.

When I saw the videos of the Langrisser I & II collection for the Switch, I immediately thought I would like the games. I had never played anything from the show before, but I wanted to try it. It wasn’t until I started playing them that I realized they must be based on very old games, and in fact I was surprised to learn that the original game was released in America as Warsong on the Genesis. I could have played that almost thirty years ago, but I didn’t know it existed!

You can choose which of the two games you want to play from the beginning. Of course I picked the game in order, but it’s nice to be able to do that. The first thing I noticed is that this game is extremely lean, with no grip. If you’ve never played a tactical RPG before, you’re probably completely lost. The game puts you in combat with the ability to hire mercenaries. Because I had a lot of money at my disposal, I hired as many people as possible, which is a good thing, because otherwise I would probably have been destroyed. You begin defending your father’s castle from an attack and must retreat to build the scenario. You have two commanders (each with mercenaries hired by you) that you can serve directly. As in other games of this type, your team will be the first to act. You can move a number of cells, and when you are within range of enemies (usually right next to them), you can choose to attack. In standard mode, the game switches to side-scrolling mode with a 10-second scenario showing the fight in real time. At first I really enjoyed watching the action, but after a few hours I went to the options and turned off the animation because it took too long and was almost always the same.

Once you finish your turn, enemies can move across the map and attack your allies. For the most part, AI is pretty good at spotting your low-level soldiers and directing attacks at them. You will have to try to keep the weaker troops out of range if you hope to survive the war. This process proceeds sequentially, as one would expect, until a condition is met (usually a certain point on the map is reached or all enemies are destroyed). If your mercenaries are close to hero characters, they will usually be partially healed before it’s your turn, but the same goes for enemies. Terrain plays a role in combat, so you can hide units in the woods for extra protection, or use heights for better attack power.

Like the fire emblem games, the game has a kind of triangle of arms. Some devices are better/smaller than others. Flying units are weak against archers, for example (where have we heard that before?), so you should figure it out if you can. This should have a big impact on strategy, even if it’s not entirely clear in the game. You need to educate yourself or read up on the internet. As you can imagine, these games are sophisticated enough to have a lot of resources available when needed.

When you destroy enemies, you gain experience points and advance to the next level. Eventually you’ll have enough class points to upgrade to a more powerful class with new skills and spells. There are branching paths, so you can usually choose between different classes at any time. The game doesn’t do a fantastic job of explaining what’s best, so it’s best to try it out and see if you like it. The menu shows changes in statistics and features, but often the descriptions don’t explain everything you wanted to know before. Normally I would save right before I made changes, and if I didn’t like them, I would load up my old record. One strategy is to have certain characters (or their mercenaries) destroy enemies to gain experience. If you only have one or more of your characters sweeping the floor, you end up with a very unbalanced group of allies.

Like I said before, the game immerses you in combat with very little exposure. The story takes place before, during and after the battle. It’s not very involved or interesting, but it’s nice to have some sort of story. The game has voices, but it’s only in Japanese with subtitles. The strongest hardcore will no doubt applaud this decision, but frankly I’d rather have a good oak tree. Clearly, the games don’t have as big a budget as last year’s Fire Emblem: Three houses, but it’s still a decent amount of content in two titles. If you’re just looking for a tactical role-playing element, you should find it here.

Graphically, the game does its job. You won’t find anything really convincing here, and in fact the presentation style reminds me a bit of a mobile phone game. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the drawings of the characters are pretty generic. I think the lack of off-combat scripts is very detrimental to the development and affection of the characters, so I never bothered with design decisions. The Fire Emblem games are standing out at the moment, but I realize that the original versions of these games date back to the early 90s, so I applaud the work that has been done to modernize their look. You have the option to switch from classic to modern graphics, which is good for those who may have some nostalgia for the originals.

After about three hours of playing the first game, I started downloading the second game to see if there were any significant differences. They’re gone. If you had to choose one, you would hardly know which one you are playing. They look alike. The only differences are in the plot and characters. Both games have a very good soundtrack. It was mostly fun and it entertained me. Before writing this review, I did some research and found out that one of the composers is Noriyuki Iwadare, who worked on the Lunar and Big series – so, basically, it’s good work!

The appeal of Langrisser I & II depends heavily on your preference for tactical RPGs. Even those who appreciate them can be exposed to achieve this title. You won’t find tutorials, bells and whistles to get your attention. While there are some good games here, they offer nothing more than what was expected in the early 90s, except better presentation and voice acting. If you grew up in Warsongand and enjoyed it, this purchase is a no-brainer. For everyone else, there are more capable and entertaining options like Wargroove and Fire Emblem : Three houses. There is a free demo available in the online store, and I highly recommend trying it first as it will give you an idea of what to expect from the package.

Langrisser Review I and II
  • Charts – 7.5/10
  • Sound – 8.5/10
  • Gameplay – 6/10
  • Late Call – 7.5/10

6.5/10

Final thoughts : WARNINGS

Langrisser I & II is the definition of a game worth playing. Fans of tactical role-playing games who don’t mind card battles without a manual and a clean history will feel right at home here. Newcomers to the genre are better off elsewhere. These games have been around directly since the early 90s and, despite the new coat of paint, have no contemporary connection to them. A free demo in the online shop is recommended for throwing 50 dice.

Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently an editor and contributor to Age of Games.

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