This is a SRPG that should appeal to you if A) you like Langrisser or B) you like mecha robots. Or both. Vixen 357 was developed by the same people and was made in between Langrissers 1 and 2, so in a sense, you could consider it both a mecha game and a Langrisser game. Alternately, you could also note that it’s a sequel to Hisou Kohei X-Serd, so… make of it what you will.
There are no troops like there were in Langrisser 1, but it’s a top-down grid-based SRPG, so the similarities are there. Vixen 357 also introduced a few ideas which would later come into larger focus in Langrisser 2: very fluid controls, higher quality animations with larger sprites, and the whole “four generals” archetype which you’d later see with Imelda/Vargas/Leon/Egbert, Emalink/Geier/Bortz/Varna, etc. Vixen 357 felt like a “pilot run” for Langrisser 2 in many ways. At the same time, it retained permadeath from Langrisser 1 and didn’t bother to develop an intricate story either. You could say that it’s like Langrisser 1.5, but with mecha robots. And BOWMAN.
A fun feature of Vixen 357 is how it handles mechs. I don’t think other games were doing this at the time – and I certainly know that Front Mission didn’t do it like this. Throughout the game, you’ll acquire several mechs. You’ll also recruit several pilots. Each pilot can pilot one mech. The neat thing is that your pilots aren’t bound to their machines; they can freely switch between them, so long as you have Ben Basque nearby. Who is Ben Basque?
He pilots the “Dread” and is the only pilot who’s bound to his machine. The “Dread” functions as a convoy, a healer, and a mech-switching station. Also, if it’s destroyed, then it’s game over. Anyway, it’s pretty cool how the game handles unit customization. It’s intuitive, simple, and unique.
Arguably, the game’s strongest selling point is its graphics. Map graphics are all drawn fairly well, although they’re still a tad bit gloomy just like Langrisser 1 graphics. It’s like a transitory phase between Langrissers 1 and 2. But at several points throughout the game, you’ll see beautiful anime cutscenes, and these were a step up from those seen in Langrisser 1. Again, a transitory phase between Langrissers 1 and 2.
It’s a really short game (only 16 scenarios) and it never reaches moments of true transcendence. Strategy is fairly barebones, and although the mech system is nice, Vixen 357 doesn’t offer anything stellar in terms of its overall gameplay. All in all, it’s a good game, but never becomes anything beyond that. Vixen 357 never made its way outside of Japan (an English patch does exist though – see link below), but it’s not like we were missing out on that much anyway. Not having an English Vixen 357 is somewhat disappointing, but it’s nowhere near as sad as not having an English Langrisser 2.