Langrisser I & II
Switch version tested
Review code provided
Langrisser I & II for Nintendo Switch delivers the first two entries in the legendary series as one handy on the go mini-collection. Last year we were lucky enough to take a look at the mobile release so naturally wanted to jump back into the fantasy world of tactical role-play created by Masaya Games and later Career Soft.
Both packaged games play in a similar vein to other big hitters in the turn-based tactics genre. There are no surprises in what you are getting from this and, let’s be realistic, most will have drawn some form of inspiration from Langrisser given its cult status and original release date back in the early ’90s. The Langrisser, Advance (Famicon) Wars and Fire Emblem series have all played a significant part in paving the way for some great modern takes, although it’s worth noting that not all entries in the aforementioned have been made available outside of Japan. Games that instantly spring to mind are Valkyria Chronicles and Wargroove which are examples of the highest pedigree.
Langrisser I kicks off the first chapter in this long-running saga. The basic blurb follows a handful of brave warriors looking to defend their homeland from evil armies that ensue. Take control of Ledin and his champions on a quest to retrieve the titular Sword set against the backdrop of a war-torn land. Choose your allies and battles well in order to progress through the main campaign. Set over 20 chapters the story offers several opportunities to define their destiny via a branching tree mechanic.
As soon as the game boots you are presented with a great looking title screen showcasing the stylised anime artwork. From this menu pick which game to start alongside a couple of customisation options. Each game begins with a short illustrated intro filling in the plot before digging into battle.
First impressions are positive. The controls are simple which is to be expected, as is the pre-battle fine-tuning. Pick from a number of units, upgrades and accessories all of which have a bearing on your overall stats. It will take a couple of battles to fully get an understanding around the optimum loadout but thankfully there is an auto-populate option for beginners. The attribute system is logical and as you progress through the roughly 10-15 hour campaign it becomes important to make wise choices. Movement is much like a game of chess for those less exposed to the genre, each unit has a maximum number of squares they can progress per turn and set range for attack. Move all of the units before ending a turn and letting the AI-controlled characters advance, hopefully not causing too much damage. It can be painful watching the counter-attack in motion as it quickly unravels what moments ago you thought was a stroke of tactical genius.
Battle one was a tough slog, in all honesty it almost broke me, I had to replay it several times in order to beat it. The advantage of doing this meant that my units levelled up significantly and allowed subsequent stages to become somewhat of a breeze. Some units are better equipped to deal with specific enemy types than others and the lay of the land plays a part in movement. Key animation is limited on both the overworld map and close-up battles sequences. With each battle the opportunity to collect loot, XP and upgrades is abundant. The story is entertaining enough, if a little cliche, and can be skimmed as the battlefield is where the true action plays out. Langrisser possesses decent replay value if wanting to see all of the different twists and turns even though the endgame is slightly linear.
With part one in the bag, its time to take a look at Langrisser II. Everything is akin to the original so transitioning from one to another in quick succession feels very fluent. Gameplay and style remain with little deviation from the formula, no need to rock the boat as everything works. Just add in some small refinements for good measure. This chapter is set years in the future yet battles rage across a ravaged land and the once legendary Langrisser is nothing more than folklore. We focus on a young Elwin on the search for adventure and a girl in need, a classic scenario.
The storyline was a little more engaging this time around but still suffers from the same cliche and age. There is a lot to organise between turns and the pacing can be a little sluggish, sometimes it felt like a lot of effort was required for little gameplay in return. The auto-skip button goes some way to combat that. Again battle through the chapters, collect loot and XP before trying to make the right choices and save the day.
The Langrisser I & II package provides a slight remaster of each game opposed to simply being a generic port. You can switch between original and HD visuals depending on whether or not you want that nostalgic feeling, the HD graphics are nice and crisp and while not adding to the gameplay it is a nice touch. The soundtrack is suitably epic and grand in scale. Strangely, the Nintendo eShop lists a DLC pack including the legacy BGM which seems a little absurd, don’t get me wrong it’s a great option for true fans to own but it should be standard given the full retail price point.
This release of Langrisser I & II is as enjoyable and fresh today as it has ever been even if the story seems a little dated. Each game provides hours of content and replayability. The package does just about enough to warrant the price tag but could have benefitted from some additional extras. Basic stuff that we would take for granted in a package like this, an artwork gallery for one. If you enjoy epic quests and tactical play then Langrisser might just be what you need to re-add to the collection.
TBG Score: 8/10
Platform: Steam, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 13/03/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, RPG, Strategy
Publisher: NIS America
Download link: eShop