Langrisser I & II Review – Nintendo Switch
Langrisser started all the way back in Japan 1991 for the PC Engine as Langrisser (ラングリッサー): The descendants of light. Langrisser was released on the Sega Genesis in the west the very same year renamed ‘Warsong’. The follow-up Langrisser II was released in 1994 & was remade for the Super Famicom by Masaya as ‘Der Langrisser’ which featured reimagined graphics and a more balanced difficulty. Langrisser I & II would later be released as the completion for both PlayStation and Saturn in 1997 and 1998.
In langrisser you play as Ledin, The young prince of the Kingdom of Baldea. In the opening scene, we see the castle being stormed and the King orders his knights to escort you away from the castle to gather help. Although Ledin does escape, the castle falls and along with it the sacred sword known as Langrisser. As you can probably guess, you must use the power of Langrisser to vanquish the evil invading empire. This may sound a little cliché by today standards, but for 1991 this is perfectly acceptable.
Langrisser II doesn’t act as a direct sequel, instead, this story revolves around Elwin, a swordsman and his friend Hein, a mage in training. They battle against the Rayguard Empire, however, later in the game you get the opportunity to take different branching paths which I will not spoil here.
The gameplay is where Langrisser I & II shine, each battle really does make you think strategically from the start of the map all way to the end. Langrisser I & II play alike, they are turn-based Strategy RPG’s on a tile-based grid system. I guess comparisons can be made between Langrisser and the Fire Emblem series, however, they are quite different and have more in common with Advance Wars! In the Langrisser games, you can hire mercenaries to fight alongside you, which cost a certain amount of Gold. These fighters make up the basis of your army, and if they perish you will not be able to hire any more for the current fight. This makes a natural kind of risk and reward system as the less you hire the more gold you get to keep. Each type of mercenary has its strengths and weaknesses so you can plan out what types you want to hire before going into the fray of battle.
Langrisser has a class progression system for all the heroes you get to control over the course of the game. You can unlock these by obtaining CP (Class points) which you get by levelling up. This will let you choose which class you want to unlock from a Class Tree. There are over ten classes available for each hero and these additional classes allow you to hire different types of Mercenaries and give you access to different passive abilities.
Each game throws you immediately into battle with very little in the way of explanation or tutorial. Personally, after playing numerous other SRPG’s this was fine for me, however, I can understand how people who have never played an SRPG might be a little lost at first!
There’s a whole lot of content with both games easily taking over 30 hours to complete each and will branching stories you could be playing for much longer. You will find after a few hours you really do get pulled into the gameplay loop and the more you play, the more you are rewarded.
To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the remastered art style, luckily you can switch back to the original style retro pixel aesthetic and it makes the maps look great, However, the sprites still stay in their chibi style. Personally, I find these character sprites a little out of place and it would have been nice to have the original sprites available. The Chibi style sprites remind me a little of Final Fantasy Theatrhythm or Fire Emblem Heroes and while not a deal-breaker, I find something really off-putting about them. This is even more noticeable when the older graphics are used for the maps, something about the HD chibi characters on a pixel-based background just doesn’t feel right!
The game music can be switched between the remastered and the new arrangements. Much like the graphics, I prefer the old versions of the music score, but the newer renditions are not as jarring as the sprites. Overall, the music is actually quite catchy and very good, even though I’m not too sure if rock music suits the fantasy medieval setting very well. Story characters are voiced in Japanese and the voice acting seems pretty spot on in my opinion.
One glaring problem I have found is quite long load times with this Switch version, when starting Langrisser I, for example, you are greeted with a black loading screen that takes 33 seconds. For this type of game in 2020, we shouldn’t be having to wait over half a minute for load times, especially for a game that is not on a disc. Now, I am not sure this will be an issue in other versions of the game or if it is something that can be fixed in an update, but it’s a little annoying. I must mention this doesn’t happen too often but, when it does it is very noticeable.
Overall, I enjoyed playing Langrisser I & II enough to continue to playing in the future! The gameplay is It’s addictive and both games feel right at home on the Nintendo Switch, it’s just such a shame that the loading times are so long and presentation of the sprites lets the game down overall for me.