Thanks to the success of Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series, the tactical RPG has become a popular genre among gamers over the last couple console generations. From this success, releasing Langrisser I & II in early 2020 seems like the right time to revive this shadowed franchise. Releasing both games in one package is the right call especially when there are a handful of new features longtime fans should appreciate.
The story in both titles is filled to the brim with typical fantasy RPG tropes. You have your hero, a legendary sword, and some bad guys looking to use that sword for evil. Although it isn’t bad, the straight-forward narrative has been done a million times before.
Gameplay is also a typical tactical RPG in which the player controls a cursor to command an army on a grid-based battlefield. Alternating turns until the objective is complete, strategy fans will immediately feel right at home and should be able to skip and tutorials. Similar to Fire Emblem, there is a weapon triangle where one type of attack has an advantage over another. Terrain also plays a role with each encounter as it can determine defensive strengths. Like the story, all this is par for the course. However, it is Langrisser’s mercenary system that provides a unique twist to combat.
Main characters have the ability to summon warriors to their side during battle. These extra fighters can soak up damage and essential as meat shield fodder. The down side to using these grunts is that it can quickly crowd a battlefield, which makes it more complex and drawn out, and loses the personal touch of fighting with a narrative-based character. Knowing that each of expendable fighters are nothing more than cannon fodder doesn’t create a personal connection with the story. In order to make these extra characters perform at their peak, they need to stay within close proximity to the main character that summoned them. This can make some battles overly crowded, tedious to manage, and adds some sluggishness to the overall narrative. Thankfully, battle animations can be turned off once the novelty has worn off, substituting flourish for speed.
Available via the main menu, the player has welcomed presentation options that can be adjusted to taste. The modern setting is checked at default but players are free to convert to the original release’s art and chiptune soundtrack. Adding both new and classic flair is one of the best features found in this package. Personally, I preferred the original art style and classic tunes over the modern settings. Not that the modern visuals and soundtrack are lacking, I just prefer a more authentic presentation when playing an upgraded version of an old game. Also, the character art seemed like it was originally created for Langisser mobile and readjusted for this console release.
Langrisser I & II isn’t a compilation for everyone. The simple, expected tactical RPG gameplay is slower paced but is simple enough that anyone can play it. However, I can’t help but wonder who this game is targeting. On the one hand, it is so straightforward that anyone can jump in but hardcore strategy fans are accustomed to heavier mechanics – deeper leveling, branching paths, rewind feature, mature story, permadeath, etc. There is no question that the release of Langrisser I and II is something special as it isn’t every day we see a re-release of a very old game with a new coat of paint and some new features, but dedicated players might not think there is enough meat on the bone and continue to play Final Fantasy Tactics instead.
Also available on Nintendo Switch and Steam. There is also a free demo available on all platformers if you wanted to try it for yourself.
Not As Good As: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)
Much Better Than: tracking down an original copy
Wait For It: a Vandal Hearts compilation