Ever want to play something that’s kind of like Fire Emblem, but not? Then Langrisser might be just the thing to sooth that itch.
Langrisser was originally released for the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive in 1991, though in North America, you might know it better as Warsong. Its sequel, Langrisser II, was not so fortunate, as it and the rest of the series spanning throughout the lives of the Mega Drive, Saturn, PlayStation, Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 would remain exclusive to Japan, barring one entry for the Nintendo 3DS in 2016.
As with many games of the time, Langrisser was localized rather heavily at the time, changing not only the title, but the names of characters as well. For example, Ledin, the main protagonist of the first game, was called Garett in Warsong. From what I can tell, however, the new Langrisser I & II from NIS America is seeking to uphold the original naming schemes this time around (with some potential slight alterations; Langrisser II‘s hero is called “Elwin” here, but Wikipedia says “Erwin”).
Langrisser I & II is a strategy RPG set in a fantasy world, much like Nintendo’s Fire Emblem, but it does some things to help set itself apart. Perhaps the most notable of these is in how battles are conducted. In Fire Emblem, battles are typically one-on-one affairs with each turn, whereas Langrisser features the characters in question leading an entire squad of troops into war, waging an abstract battle against one another as they whittle down the opposing force’s health. There are a variety of troops to take part in the action, too, from soldiers to to thieves to monks, and no doubt plenty more, who factor into the Rock-Paper-Scissors weakness chain style of strategy gameplay fans of the other series are no doubt familiar with by now.
One particularly cool feature of Langrisser I & II is the ability to mix and match certain classic and modern design elements. In addition to a retro and modern version of the soundtrack, you can choose whether the maps use the original pixel art style or the new, more painting-like appearance. Likewise, you can choose between character portraits which possess a very unique retro style that reminds me of something you’d have seen in an old issue of Animerica or Newtype USA (kids, ask your parents), and something newer and more modern.
Have a look for yourself at the two:
What’s cool is that you can choose whichever version of the soundtrack you want to hear, which portraits you want to see, and which maps you want to play on. Instead of all new or all old, you want to have those retro chiptunes accompany the remastered portraits on a pixel art map? Done! Or you can swap it out the other way and have modern tunes and classic art on the remastered maps? Also easily done.
I actually spent quite a bit of time playing around to see what I liked best, and honestly? I can’t even really decide. Lucky for me, you can not only choose your preferences from the main menu, but also during battle in the main game. Both are really good, though the remastered portraits do have an edge over their classic counterparts in that they also feature additional images added for cutscenes.
Unfortunately, there are two aspects which cannot be changed in such a way: Voices and on-screen characters. Voices are in Japanese, and that’s that, while the on-screen characters — by which I mean the representations seen on maps and in battles — are only in the remastered style, so you can’t swap to their classic-style pixel art to match the rest.
Langrisser I & II will be released on the Nintendo Switch (the version I’m playing), PlayStation 4, and the PC via Steam on March 10, 2020 in North America and March 13 in Europe, so check back closer to that date for our review. The game will be released both digitally and physically for $49.99 USD, and a limited edition is supposed to be available in the NIS America Online Store, but it doesn’t appear to be there right now.
In the meantime, however, you can try the game out for yourself with a free demo that’s available in the PlayStation Store and Nintendo eShop (sorry, Steam users, nothing for you yet), which will give you three chapters from each game (1-3 of Langrisser I and 4-6 of Langrisser II). In addition, your save data from the demo will grant you a bonus of 5,000 gold and 2 CP at the start of the retail release.
You can also learn a bit more about the world and characters you’ll encounter (and maybe yourself) by playing the online Trial of Morality, where you’ll answer questions for a chance to win one of three prize packages.
On top of all that, you can read up on the game even more at the official website.