Langrisser I & II Review
Langrisser was once a beloved franchise from studio Career Soft, and the original title was localized on the Sega Genesis under the title Warsong. The 1991 western release also came with many drastic changes, from character portraits along with many translation changes. The series was renowned for its tactical elements and was even known to be one of Fire Emblem's biggest rivals during its prime. Fast forward to today, the series has been nearly forgotten and has faded into obscurity.
However, along with a recent release of a mobile game, we also got ourselves a new remake of the original games by Chara-ani and Kadokawa Games titled Langrisser I & II. Due to the first two Langrisser games being very similar in gameplay, the series often release the two games bundled together in ports back in the day.
The graphics of the new game have been completely redrawn by a new different artist. For players that miss the original art from Satoshi Urushihara, there is an option to revert back to his classic artwork. However using this setting does not include new unique CG art for the event scenes, which will be completely omitted if you use the original art. For this reason, it's best to play the game with the new artwork for the intended experience, since everything else is designed with the new artwork in place. That said, the visual production is probably the single weakest element for the game, as the sprites don't quite scream "high-quality", and most of the maps feel like they just ported the SNES maps over with barely any improvements.
Thankfully, even if the graphics department might have failed in this game, the sound department delivers in spade. You get a newly arranged soundtrack that sounds fantastic, as well as the option to go back to the original tunes. The story is also fully voiced with mostly a new cast, although the game lacks an English dub.
The plot of the original Langrisser is fairly straightforward. We follow Prince Ledin as he goes through exile after an enemy invasion, where he must rally supporters and friends to reclaim his throne while a more sinister plot lurks in the shadow. The overall storyline of the original game is also expanded upon by adding a new route that contains some newly introduced characters and some "what-if" scenarios for Ledin. Sticking to the primary storyline route however, now that Langrisser has a much more faithful translation compared to the 90s original release, English-speaking players can finally experience the original game's story for the first time without relying on fan translation patches.
Langrisser II follows Elwin, a lone traveler that will shape the fate of the world with the allegiance he chooses. The plotline for the sequel is a much more complicated one, which considers how Elwin interacts with those around him and how all the choices he makes can have severe consequences in how the plot unfolds. When compared to the original Langrisser II, which never saw an official release in English, the story has also been largely rewritten. Although the overall plot is generally the same, it is not a direct copy and paste from the original games, with some scenes in the remake being completely different this time around.
The branching story elements from Langrisser II are probably the game's biggest strength, with all the different factions you can choose, and the plot still holds up to this day - even changed up a bit. Unlike the original games, chapters now have a flow chart displayed, letting you know when chapters can split into different routes, which leads to a more streamlined process without having to deal with trial and error. You don't want to pick choices and later find out that you've accidentally locked yourself to a route working for the people you despised.
The strategy gameplay of the series is where all the interesting pieces come into play. Remade together, the two Langrisser games now share the exact same gameplay system, unlike their older ports from previous consoles. In both games, you level up and earn CP to unlock new classes, each loaded with their own unique passive abilities, allowing you to adjust whichever abilities that is suitable for your playstyle. Obtaining new classes also gives the option to hire different mercenaries for your units. The mercenaries system is really the core of the Langrisser games. The mercenaries' combat prowess is based on how close they are to their assigned commanders, giving them a status boost that will make them nearly as strong as the commanders they are assigned to. When in the middle of combat, many of your strategic options will come down directly hunting enemy commanders or killing additional mercenaries for more EXP.
Although commanding a ton of mercenaries may sound like a slog, they automatically move at the end of your turn, based on the behavior you set as their default. Usually, they prefer to stay near their assigned commanders to protect them. Some battles can even be difficult when commanders are surrounded by very strong mercenaries, especially ranged types. Overall the battle system in the remakes is quite a bit different than the original Langrisser titles. Things are generally more streamlined, although it dilutes many of the strategic components to the gameplay. The CP system makes the game far too easy without some of the restrictions of the original game, in which you would more carefully need to plan on how to build your characters. In the remake, players can easily swap out different classes whenever you want, so there isn't much planning that needs to be done.
Langrisser I & II is like a studio adding color to a classic Hollywood movie from the golden age. It's not necessarily better now than it was, but a touch up might make it more appealing to some. In the end, the remakes of the first two Langrisser games don't quite add anything to make them automatically better than their original counterparts - it's more just a different take on the original games. It's not a really high effort remake, but since the first Langrisser games are already good, it would've taken a lot of effort to make the games really awful.