Masaya Games' classic Sega Mega Drive tactical RPGs are now available for modern consoles in a nifty package so let's head to war.
I have limited knowledge of the Langrisser franchise considering most games in the series never released in North America. If you're like me then you probably know the series by its westernised Sega Genesis name Warsong which is actually the first Langrisser game. Both games have seen a few ports and adaptations over the years in Japan so I'm not entirely sure which versions were used as the basis of the games here but either way, it's clear that the visuals have received a substantial overhaul no matter what the case is. In fact, you can swap between the classic and remastered art as well as the original and modern soundtracks which is awesome. There is also an option to make these games more accessible via toggling Easy Start which gives you a boost right off the bat with extra money, items, and CP.
Both Langrisser I and II look and play nearly identically in this collection which creates one cohesive experience. I must say that a lot of the challenge in these titles rests on your ability to manage money seeing as it's used to purchase new equipment but more importantly, you spend it to hire temporary mercenaries at the beginning of each battle so if you're confident, you can save your cash but if you'd like a lot of assistance, you can drop some serious coin to maximize the amount of soldiers who will aid you in combat. Considering cash is so crucial, Easy Start will make the challenge far less substantial at the start of the adventure so only enable it if you're a genre newbie. Anyway, each one of your party members is a commander and the recruited mercenaries receive boosts as they stay close to their respective commanding officers and they even automatically try their best to get in formation whenever you end the current phase.
Commanding all your soldiers then watching your enemies do the same once you're done makes for a generally intense exchange as you try and keep your party members safe as their hired mercenaries slowly get thinned out. That being said, some battles can be downright tedious such as ones where you're chased by a powerful unit and merely have to make it to a certain tile on the battle map. Thankfully, most missions keep things fresh by introducing enemy units mid-battle; some of which may even combat other enemies as you sit back and watch them thin out each other's ranks. It's moments like these that make Langrisser constantly feel fresh and exciting. Speaking of which, the campaigns in both games basically have you complete battle after battle but there are alternate timelines. For example, ensuring that a particular enemy survives may trigger him to join your party so exploring all of these adds some fun replay value.
Langrisser I & II not only plays great; it looks and sounds great, too. The simple grid-based battle maps are super-intuitive to navigate while the soldier sprites that inhabit them are clearly defined as to avoid ambiguity. Watching them exchange blows after commencing an attack may be optional yet it's enjoyable with satisfying effects and intense facial expressions. I also thoroughly appreciated the modern soundtrack which contains some rocking tunes in battle and uplifting orchestral pieces elsewhere. Plus, the optional original soundtracks are fantastic if you prefer 16-bit music. All of that being said, I didn't find either of the stories to be particularly immersive, especially considering there are many similar games with much more intriguing plots but I did enjoy the varied cast of characters.
Finally, allow me to discuss character growth. In both games, all you essentially do is level up, swap out passive skills, change classes, and purchase and equip new weapons, armour, and accessories. It's extremely simple stuff and made me feel somewhat limited, especially because I'm a huge fan of Vandal Hearts II which allows for very in-depth character customization. Don't get me wrong; I did enjoy progressing characters' classes via their respective trees but being able to do so is rare considering the fact that you earn CP so slowly. There is a decent amount of classes, though, as party members can each choose from a selection of about 12.
If you love SRPGs as much as I do then you'll have an excellent time with Langrisser I & II. It's impressive how well both games have held up over the years and the fact that it has an option to make them accessible for genre newcomers is a great addition.
- + Contains 2 excellent SRPGs that both look, sound, and play great
- + Alternate timelines add replay value
- + Lots of character classes to play with
- - Some battles can be a little tedious
- - Story isn't as intriguing as similar plots
- - Character growth is somewhat limiting