How Langrisser hopes to capture the hearts of turn-based strategy fans once more12 Dec 2018 0
The name Langrisser may not be as well-known as Fire Emblem, but it’s no less as important to the history of Japanese turn-based tactical games. Originally released in 1991, the first Langrisser entry arrived the year after Fire Emblem’s initial incarnation and was actually the first of the two franchises to make it out west. Older readers may recognise the name Warsong, the title of Langrisser I’s official SEGA Genesis translation that was released in North America that same year.
This is a sponsored article courtesy of Zlonggame.
Langrisser and Fire Emblem’s rivalry would continue all throughout the 90s, with Langrisser II coming in 1994, Langrisser III in ’96, Langrisser IV in ’97 and finally Langrisser V in 1998. That year would also see Langrisser I & II ported to PC using a new engine, although after this the franchise went more-or-less into hibernation as the original developers parted ways with their parent company to pursue their own projects.
Fire Emblem would eventually break into western markets in 2003 with its seventh incarnation, although one can’t help but wonder how much groundwork Langrisser/Warsong had laid over a decade before. Sadly, Warsong would be the only game of the series to get officially translated until 2015’s Langrisser RE: Incarnation Tensei on the Nintendo DS got a North America and European release.
If you knew where to look, you could get fan translations of Langrisser II, Der Langrisser (The super Famicom version of L2) and Langrisser IV, which to this day remain the favourites for those who’ve followed the series since the beginning.
As a franchise, Langrisser was mainly known for offering a large-scale battle system, which stood apart from other similar games that focused more on individual characters and smaller squads. It seems perhaps a bit 'old school' in the face of the streamlining that’s affecting modern tactical strategy games, but players could control dozens, if not hundreds of troops on their side. Everyone was organised into platoons or battalions of units led by a singular hero-figure who would have a class and powers of their own, backed up by more common varieties of soldiers. Like most of games of this genre, there was a rudimentary hierarchy in terms of which units were strong against other units, with order changing and evolving as the series progressed.
Featuring a medieval/Germanic setting with a noticeably Japanese spin, the series often sported engaging narratives. 1995’s Der Langrisser introduced branching non-linear paths – with the player able to align with either one of three factions or go it alone, something which carried on into later games and remakes. This is now considered an important part of a narrative based tactical game’s DNA, and it’s something Langrisser and contemporaries helped refine. Relationship dynamics also evolved over the course of the series post-Langrisser III, giving the players multiple options for romantic partners depending on in-game choices and dialogue.
Two decades have passed since the ‘classic’ era of Langrisser, which ended with Langrisser V. There have been a few spin-offs and alternative projects since then, but it’s only recently that the series is making a real attempt at a come-back not only in Japan, but in the west as well. RE:Incarnation Tensei was just the start: A compilation featuring a remaster of both Langrisser I & II is coming to Switch and PS4 next year, and there’s one other project on the horizon that’s trying to appeal to an entirely new audience…
Twenty years on, Langrisser is looking to revive its ancient rivalry with Fire Emblem, and no more is this apparent than with Langrisser Mobile. The game launched into open beta in China earlier this year, and now it’s being translated in English, positioning itself as an alternative to Fire Emblem: Heroes in the free-to-play strategy space.
While Langrisser Mobile replicates some of the basic traits of Heroes (given how similar these franchises have always been, not entirely surprising), it’s still carrying over the core identity of the series, offering its own spin as it appeals to both new and old series fans.
If you’ve played Heroes, you may recognise the dynamic of simplified turn-based combat with a focus on quicker matches, and also the idea of pulling famous characters from across the franchise into one game. But on top of that is many traits that come straight out of the classics.
The units you control on the map are still a grouping of a leader-like main character being supported by grunt troops, and each have their own health and attack stats for an extra layer of customisation and tactical utility. There’s even a nod to the series’ roots by asking players to do a quick questionnaire at the beginning, the results of which will determine the main character’s class evolution later in the game.
Beyond that, Langrisser Mobile is trying to offer a bit more meat to the experience through content – the maps are generally larger (up to 24x29 squares) and there’s a lot more of them. As a quick comparison, Fire Emblem’s maps only go as large as a 10x8 grid. There’s also a full fleshed out central narrative that touches on key points and markers from the classic games and the tactical sphere even features terrain effects, which add on an extra dimension to fighting battles beyond class and type-trumping.
Regardless of the form it takes, it’s good to see these franchises making a return. The Japanese influence and appeal within the tactical strategy genre cannot be ignored. Langrisser Mobile will be available on iOS and Android some time in 2019, and you can find out more by going to the official website.