Der Langrisser - Reader Retroview  

Es ist Ganz Gut
by JuMeSyn

~50 hours


Rating definitions 

   Some games, when ported, receive little alteration. Some receive more attention, some less, but the cases when playing the original is truly not equal to playing the port deserve respect. Langrisser 2 is a fine entry on the Mega Driveís somewhat sparse lineup, but its alterations in order to become Der Langrisser make the title even better. To any RPGamer interested in a superb tactical title with massive replay value, Der Langrisser will be very worthwhile.

   As this is a tactical title, the battles will eat up the lionís share of time playing. Langrisser battles revolve around commanders. Commanders can hire troops prior to battle, up to six (though some classes are unable to hire as many). Troops are generally weaker than the commander but can be a type that the commander is not (a horseman hiring phalanxes, for example). When within a certain range from their commander troops receive bonuses to their attack and defense which are almost always substantial enough to warrant keeping them close by. The troops are pawns, with no real reward for keeping them alive, but make the battle much easier. Commanders can learn spells and are also able to heal themselves each turn for 3 HP and 2 MP. Using the heal command, however, means a commander cannot move. Using magic also immobilizes the commander for a turn. All units have a maximum of 10 HP, and the damage they are able to inflict depends upon their HP. A unit with less than full HP cannot destroy a full-health unit. Commanders can heal their troops merely by being adjacent to them, 3 HP per turn. And if a commander falls, all his/her remaining troops also die.

It may look intimidating, but these options become second nature very quickly. It may look intimidating, but these options become second nature very quickly.

   Troop classes are somewhat standard, with horsemen besting infantry, pikemen besting horsemen, and infantry besting pikemen. Archers have pitiful defense but can strike from afar. There are also fliers and troops that get massive bonuses from fighting in water. Terrain bonuses can have a substantial effect upon statistics, and are often the difference between success and defeat in an individual encounter. This is important when there will usually be over one hundred total units on the field. If the player gives each commander the maximum number of troops possible, it still will not equal the enemy units present. The battlefields look similar to most tactical titles with an overhead view (Fire Emblem, Shining Force) but have many more units than those titles with correspondingly smaller sprites. Commanders gain experience from their kills and can change class each time they reach level 10.

   Differences in the battle system from Langrisser 2 are minor but extant. The maximum number of player commanders on the field is now 8 instead of 10. The playerís commanders can only hire one type of troop per battle, though the enemy is not restricted thusly. The initial spells and the class of Elwin, the protagonist, are determined via questions asked before the game begins (and these questions are Kanji-intensive so a FAQ will be very useful). New commanders the player can control sometimes have interesting units at their beck and call. Overall, however, the battles do not feel very different from Langrisser 2.

   Visually Der Langrisser also does not deviate much from Langrisser 2. It looks a bit better, and the character portraits have all been redrawn (with hit and miss results), but the game doesnít look distinctly better than on the Mega Drive. Considering the Super Famicomís capabilities, this must be gently chided. Aurally Der Langrisser mostly uses the score of Langrisser 2, and oddly this music tends to sound worse than it did with the Mega Driveís sound chip. There is some new music, mostly very short pieces that do not impress. Noriyuki Iwadare turned in some fine compositions nevertheless, and the music will not disappoint. Sound effects are unobtrusive with the most memorable being the cries of troops dying.

What happens when troops with 0 attack get hit by something else?  Well, itís awful messy. What happens when troops with 0 attack get hit by something else? Well, itís awful messy.

   Interaction has been changed a bit from Langrisser 2. Instead of puzzling out the battlefield from a tiny map prior to beginning, the player can scroll around it at will while assigning commanders to their slots. Hiring troops is fairly easy, although having the screen display more than three potential unit types simultaneously would have been nice. Equipping weapons and armor is also a bit clunky though easy enough to get used to. The major issue with the pre-battle phase is how slowly the commanders are switched between, which can be irksome when the player wants to speed through this and reach the battle. Battles themselves have no issues with interaction that come to mind.

   It is in the story and replay that massive changes have been instituted. The beginning is mostly the same, though somewhat compressed from Langrisser 2: Elwin and Hein must protect Riana from the interests of the Rayguard empire. They meet up with Sherry, the princess of Kalzath, who is fighting the imperials on behalf of her kingdom. And a bit later they meet with Jessica, the guardian of Langrisser, a blade of legend. Shortly after this meeting, providing the player has not killed every Imperial commander in sight, Elwin will be offered the chance to join the Rayguard empire and fight to unify the continent. Declining will keep the story on the path established in Langrisser 2, with some alterations. Accepting will take Elwin into Imperial service and pit him against most of the people who fight the empire. There is also the opportunity to betray the Empire, pitting Elwin against both sides but putting him on the side of Bozel, who seeks to revive Chaos from the first Langrisser. Elwin can, however, also turn against Bozel and seek to establish his own dominance. Each of these paths has its own battles and a few options to further vary the story.

   Replay value is obviously quite high thanks to this. And this means many hours can be sunk into Der Langrisser before the game is truly finished, because Langrisser battles are epic struggles that will require probably an hour or two each to complete. Challenge has been toned down a bit from Langrisser 2 but is still sufficient to force attention. A careless move by the player can doom a commander, and one commanderís abilities can be very helpful in each battle. Commanders do not die, fortunately.

   The fact that Der Langrisser is in Japanese has limited its audience, but to any able to circumvent that fact a highly deserving tactical title awaits. There may be a translated ROM in the wilds of the internet, but not understanding the storyís details is a small nicety when the combat of this game is so addictive. Langrisser combat is something anyone well-versed in tactical titles deserves to experience, and the seriesí sole appearance on a Nintendo console is a fine way to partake of it.

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