Langrisser: Dramatic Edition - Reader Retroview  

No More Melodrama, Just Drama
by JuMeSyn

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More than 80 Hours
+ Engrossing Langrisser action
+ Plenty of new content for both games
- In Japanese only
- Redone, but still not new games to some
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   The Langrisser games have a poor record of English releases, it is true. The first did make it into English way back in 1991 however, only to meet a dismal retail reception and doom all future releases outside of Japan. For those RPGamers who experienced what was dubbed Warsong for US release, part of Langrisser: Dramatic Edition will seem a bit familiar. To those RPGamers with import expertise or ROM knowhow who have sampled either Langrisser 2 or Der Langrisser, the other part of Dramatic Edition will seem somewhat familiar. Langrisser 1 and 2 have been changed a bit since their Genesis days, however, and to anyone with a yen for tasty tactical combat this is a fine double dose of gaming to be had on one disc for the Saturn.

   Langrisser 1 and 2 have been reworked a tad to have the same system, so a description of how battles work is effective for both titles. Central to Langrisser's battle system is the relationship between a commander and his/her troops. Commanders are the characters joining the player's team, as in many RPGs. Each commander, prior to battle, has the opportunity to purchase some troops of one unit type. The types of troops break down into a few basic groups (cavalry, airborne, infantry, etcetera) and have a symbiotic relationship with their commander. Using the troops the commander is able to combat enemy commanders and their troops successfully, and is protected via the troops from any direct attack. Every unit in Langrisser 1 and 2 possesses 10 HP at maximum, and an injured troop standing next to its commander regains 3 HP per turn. Commanders can use the Treat option to restore three of their own HP and two MP a turn also. Troops can also take advantage of the command radius their commanders exude - from two to six squares in radius, this command zone grants attack and defense bonuses to the troops. Killing enemies nets experience for the commander; while killing an enemy commander gains more experience than any individual troop, the killing of a commander does not count as having also killed all of the commander's troops and can result in a significant experience loss. Characters, upon reaching level 10 in their current class, may change class at the player's discretion. Class changes affect the learning of spells and the troops a character may purchase for battle. Terrain plays an important role in all combat, as the bonuses granted to certain troop types or from certain locations makes them much more formidable.

Those mermen are prized among seafaring nations for the yummy fillets they make. Those mermen are prized among seafaring nations for the yummy fillets they make.

   All of this information is understood by any Langrisser veteran. Changes from the original games do exist however. Langrisser 1 in particular has been refined to reduce clutter somewhat by restricting all commanders to six instead of the original eight troops. The original Langrisser 2 allowed player-controlled commanders to buy more than one type of troop at a time, while now only enemies can do this. Langrisser 1 has also been altered so that the defeat of a commander does not mean his/her death, probably thanks to the story getting considerably more time now. The AI in Langrisser 1 has also received a redo, bringing it into line with 2 so that no longer will the computer attack everything even if it will be slaughtered.

   The pre-battle interface is a bit annoying however. Each commander must be selected, have his/her troops purchased, and then instead of buying every commander's troops at once the player must choose again from the menu. The inability to see what troops the commanders have equipped when the player is picking starting locations is also annoying - while the troops do show up on the field visibly and nothing is unchangeable until battle begins, a player with poor short-term memory can be expected to gripe. Equipping commanders features the same irritation as purchasing their troops, in that each commander must be individually selected for equipment instead of being able to quickly shift between them. The post-battle tally of enemy units slain has been slowed down massively, and there is no way to skip ahead. It may have been my aging control pad's fault, but the in-battle interface felt rather jerky also - presses of the D-pad were sometimes not registered without excessive force being applied.

   The story of Langrisser 1 has received some additions, and frankly seems to be the better for it. Ledin is the prince of Baldia, a nation under attack by forces under the command of Emperor Digos. Forced to flee, Ledin recruits some allies and returns to deal with Digos' corruption under the influence of Chaos. The story of Langrisser 1 is still not particularly complex, but additional dialogue does help it out and one FMV sequence after Scenario 12 aids greatly in making clear the connection between the story to that point and its subsequent direction. Several subordinates in Digos' army have been given portaits and personalities in addition to the already-prominent Lance, though none of these people have much time to become memorable.

Everyone wants a piece of Elwin Everyone wants a piece of Elwin's delicious meat loaf, and broken bodies are no obstacle!

   Langrisser 2's original story revolved around Elwin, a descendant of Ledin, being thrust into a gigantic effort by the Rayguard Empire to use the power of Alhazard and Langrisser (the twin swords of Chaos and Light) in uniting the world. That story was still incorporated in Der Langrisser, only with the ability for Elwin to betray the warriors of Light and join up with the Empire if he chooses, along with the option to betray Rayguard and ally with the forces of Chaos, and the ability to betray Chaos as well and fight everyone. The potential paths the tale can take do not diverge from Der Langrisser's blueprint, but to any who have not played that game this will all be new and very welcome. And while the four main choices have not altered, there are a few smaller branches from the Light and Imperial story paths that seem to have been added since Der Langrisser.

   Visuals are not the strong suit of any Langrisser game, and Langrisser: Dramatic Edition follows suit. Save for a few unimpressive FMV sequences everything here could have been done on the Genesis easily. Langrisser 1 does look improved and is now on par with Der Langrisser visually. Aside from some redone character portraits (usually looking worse) and altered color schemes the graphics here are the same as what Der Langrisser featured. Aurally the soundscape is rather different, especially for Langrisser 1 which now features a great number of compositions shared with 2. Noriyuki Iwadare composed most of this music, and it holds up with rocking battle anthems that do not grow boring. The 'Dramatic Edition' may refer to the fairly plentiful voice acting now present, and most of it is well-done.

   Langrisser 1 is not as hard as I recall Warsong being, though that could be explained by the seven years of tactical experience I have since gained. It is not an easy game by any stretch, however. Langrisser 2 is not easy either, though which path the player chooses to follow does affect the difficulty substantially. Any RPGamer without a good head for tactical matters is likely to indulge in fits of profanity however. The two games together will take up at least 60 hours thanks to the propensity of Langrisser battles to become drawn-out affairs. While Langrisser 1 does not offer much replay incentive, Langrisser 2's already-mentioned makeover courtesy of Der Langrisser inbues it with massive replay.

   Langrisser: Dramatic Edition would see a port later onto the PlayStation as Langrisser 1 and 2. In either iteration this game represents a superb way of spending many hours on intense tactical combat. Visuals may not impress, but Langrisser games have never been about delivering high-end special effects. To any RPGamer with a desire to grab a worthy tactical title that most assuredly will require many hours of play, this game succeeds. The caveat of it being in Japanese is made up for by the actual playing of the game being quite import-friendly - Langrisser menus are easy to decipher.

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