Langrisser 1/Warsong was a stellar game for its time, and still holds up very well today, boasting a unique battle system that hardly any other games have sought to recreate. But then… the series got even better. Unfortunately, none of the other Langrisser games would find their way outside of Japan, so they remain rather obscure these days. This is possibly the greatest tragedy in SRPG history, considering how outstanding these games were and how successful they could’ve been if given the chance. Alongside other classics such as Fire Emblem 3 and Bahamut Lagoon, it’s one of the best representatives of the SRPG genre – it’s probably fair to say that if you don’t like Langrisser 2, then you don’t like SRPGs. (Which is fine; the SRPG genre isn’t for everyone, so I wouldn’t expect everyone to be head over heels about L2.)
Langrisser 2 was an incredible follow-up to the already amazing Langrisser 1. It retained the same ideas, expanded them, streamlined them (e.g. you can skip animations, so enemy phases don’t take so damn long), and used them as tools to create more interesting and varied maps. Of course, you’ve also got the music and the graphics – some of the best that the Genesis/Megadrive had to offer. Just boot up the game, wait for the intro to start playing, and look at this!
I defy you to show me a single game on the SNES that matched the gorgeousness of games like this one and Phantasy Star 4. Can’t do it, can you? From where I’m standing, Sega always had Nintendo beat when it came to graphics. (Both companies had some wonderful games though, don’t get me wrong.) The cool thing to note about these anime-style opening and closing graphics is that Langrisser 2 wasn’t technically the first Langrisser game to do this sort of thing. Langrisser 1’s 1993 remake for the PC Engine actually was the first. Or if you want to count Vixen 357 – another SRPG developed by the same company – then Vixen 357 in 1992 was the first Langrisser game to do this. Needless to say, all of them look stunning, due in no small part to the illustrious Satoshi Urushihara, the series’ longtime artist
also known for his hentai work. Alongside the lush graphics of Langrisser 2, the characteristic Genesis Bass (Yamaha YM2612 ftw) and Noriyuki Iwadare’s rock-inspired compositions make the game sound splendid. I’ve had people ask me about the game, saying they found it and were curious in playing it despite not even playing SRPGs at all – they found out about it through the music alone. Simply put, Langrisser 2 looks and sounds amazing.
Gameplay-wise, L2 patched up a lot of weirdness that characterized L1. (For instance, you don’t have those “rambo” soldiers anymore who can potentially wipe out an entire squadron of enemies; there’s no hidden “avoidability” stat which scales with your level; etc.) Some would say that this makes it an inferior sequel, but I’d disagree. The soundtrack is more extensive here, the graphics look much more vibrant and attractive (compared to the muddy, gloomy graphics of L1), and the mechanics have been expanded upon. For instance, class paths are more extensive now, with a maximum of five total tiers compared to three from L1, or four if we’re counting Ranger. There are more spells. There are more troop types. You can now mix troops. The game’s story is actually existent now and goes beyond “empire man bad, beat him and then vanquish the darkness!” Far from the cardboard cutouts that were L1 characters, L2 villains are reasonably well-developed: Vargas has some touching moments, Leon is a chivalrous enemy, and Bernhardt himself is an understandable main antagonist. I won’t argue that L2’s story is among the best SRPG narratives ever crafted, but for the mid-90s, it was well above average.
Importantly, Langrisser 2 also features Anikis. Everything is better with Anikis.
I also feel it’s got the best difficulty of any Langrisser game. It’s not too easy, but it’s not too hard either. Certain maps, particularly the lategame ones where enemies will hurl meteors and ballista shots at you, can test your ability to balance healing/spellcasting with advancing your army intelligently. Early game maps such as Scenarios 4, 5, 8, and 9 will push you to clear objectives somewhat quickly instead of dallying. You’ve got creative map objectives, like Scenario 11 where you have to scramble and run away from a growing conflagration. Or Scenario 23, where you have to scavenge around for the Light Rod and play capture the flag against the empire. Throughout the game, you need to understand how to control your army and not overextend yourself. Importantly, there’s no grinding at all, something I loathe seeing in SRPGs (at least when it’s mandatory for progression). Everything about the gameplay is impeccably balanced and designed. It’s a masterclass in fusion between a RPG narrative and progression, with the grand strategy of vast TBS-like armies.
Langrisser 2 really retained all of the good parts of Langrisser 1 – troops, spells, RPG-esque level ups, class changes, terrain bonuses, and more – while dispensing with the bad. There’s a reason these two games have been remade ad nauseum. When most people hear the word “Langrisser,” they’ll probably think back to the first two installments. Beginning with Langrisser 3, the series would make several changes to the core formula, some good, and some bad. Yet, even as late as 1998, the developers were still remaking the first two games. And in 2019/2020 (JP/EN, respectively), Langrissers 1 and 2 got remade again for the modern systems, namely PS4, Switch, and PC.
If you ask me though, none of the remakes ever surpassed the original 1994 version. Dramatic Edition is pretty close though. More on that in another post.
Console: Sega Megadrive
General Langrisser tips
Link to our walkthrough
Translation patch: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1314/