Skankin' Garbage's Der Langrisser Review
Email the author: Skankin' Garbage
Der Langrisser is a ground-up remake of Langrisser Hikari 2, a Sega Genesis Tactics RPG. This remake featured much better graphics, more music (And much better quality compared to the shitty sound of Genesis music), and few alternate storyline paths (and slight variations of those). The Langrisser series had six installments (The development team would go on to make a series called Growlanser), but only the first one - Warsong - was ever localized. Apparently, it didn't do too well in the U.S, so no more games were translated. It's a shame that this one was never localized, because it's definitely one of the most amazing Tactics RPGs I've ever seen. A few years ago, there were many attempts to translate the game, and though it never was fully translated, enough is translated to complete the game (completely in English on some story paths, too).
It's easy to see that since the game is a Tactics RPG, the fighting system is the most important part of the game, and it definitely does not falter. The idea is simple. You have your main characters, which are "commanders." They're incredibly strong. Different Commanders can recruit different kinds of units. Heroes have a certain "class" which determines their stats, the spells they get, and what different types of Troops they can get. The game uses the normal paper-rock-scissors system (Soldiers beat Spears beat Cavalry beat Soldiers), but with a few small additions; for example, Archers lose to everything if they get attacked, but if they have the initiative, they can destroy Cavalry and Flyers. Flying units have a slight attack advantage over all units, but are weak to any archer units. While this sounds like every other Tactics RPG, there is one thing that seperates it from the rest: Tactics MATTER. I find that in most tactics RPGs, the tactics are really more of a recommendation than anything. But, if you don't use tactics in this game, and you don't play smart, you will find yourself having a hard time progressing through the game. And therein lies the appeal: A Tactics game where you really have to use tactics, instead of being able to dick around.
The storyline really isn't all that special. There is an empire who is trying to conquer every nation, and of course, there are plenty of anti-imperial nations. The main character Elwin, and his Magician friend, Hein, get involved in the whole thing when they rescue Hein's childhood friend, Riana, who was being abducted by Imperial soldiers for some mysterious reason. Eventually it amounts to destiny, and the forces of light, and all that cliche. The characters, while mostly different, are all pretty static. Even with that in mind, some are interesting. Regardless of all this, what makes the story cool is how many ways you can complete the game. You can go through the 'light path', which is the default way, or you can go the Imperial path, and join the villains. You can betray BOTH, or you can even turn completely evil. And within those storyline paths are a few slight variations which determine later fights, adding to the game's replayability which mostly comes from the combat system.
Other than that, not much can be said. The graphics are pretty nice for 1993, and a huge improvement over the Sega Genesis version. The music is great (composed by Noriyuki Iwadare, of Lunar and Grandia fame), and the battle tracks will rock your face off, they're so damn intense. The end result is one of the best tactics RPGs I've ever played. It's truly a shame that this game isn't fully translated yet.