News Article

Remake Request: Langrisser

Posted by Damien McFerran

Fire Emblem's old rival deserves a second chance

As you dig yourself into Fire Emblem: Awakening’s monstrously addictive campaign, spare a thought for some of the other turn-based strategy RPGs which haven’t been given the chance to impress an entirely fresh generation of players. Like Langrisser, for example. Chances are, unless you really know your ‘90s Japanese games, you won’t even have heard of the name, but at one point it was arguably Fire Emblem’s most potent rival.

Developed by Masaya, the Langrisser series can actually trace its roots back to the Japan-only PC-88 system, with 1987’s Elthlead effectively being the first game in the lineage. The Crest of Gaia and Guyframe would follow on the PC Engine — both of which occupy the same universe — but it wasn’t until the release of Langrisser on the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in North America) that the franchise really began in earnest.

Like Fire Emblem, Langrisser is a turn-based game set in a fantasy land populated by knights, dragons, wizards and a multitude of other mythical beasts. Players are given a group of commanders who can be assigned troop types. Commanders gain experience in battle, and every time they pass ten experience levels they can change to a more powerful class — something which not only impacts which troops they can muster, but also alters their in-game appearance. Losing a commander means all of the soldiers under their control are also removed from play, and they are lost to you for the rest of the entire game — a devious tactic also employed in Fire Emblem. This lends each battle an additional layer of tension, and it’s not uncommon to have to restart a mission just to avoid the death of a key commander.

Langrisser’s biggest strength is the massive nature of its battles. It’s not unusual for stages to last well over an hour, thanks to the fact that you have so many units to control and the enemy’s forces are so numerous. Thankfully, you can give commanders instructions which will be passed down to their troops — such as engaging the enemy or forming a defensive perimeter — and this removes the need to move each unit individually. The battles themselves are also incredibly engaging; there’s a fine strategic balance to strike here, as killing an enemy commander removes all of his soldiers and therefore makes it easier for you to progress, but the trade-off is that you lose all of the potential experience points to be gained by slaying each unit before tackling their commander.

Although Langrisser may look a little rough around the edges compared to modern titles, the visuals are more than adequate. Character portraits and game artwork come courtesy of famed Japanese illustrator Satoshi Urushihara; the quality of the character design is nothing short of stunning, and really elevates the series above many of its rivals. The music is just as impressive; composed in part by Noriyuki Iwadare — famous for his work on Lunar: The Silver Star Story and Gley Lancer — it boasts some truly fantastic tracks, all of which suit the on-screen warmongering perfectly.

Langrisser received an English localisation in North America thanks to Treco, and was renamed Warsong. While the translation isn’t perfect and the character portraits have been tinkered with in an attempt to make them look “less Japanese”, the game is still fantastically playable and well worth investigating if you can track a copy down. Sadly, it didn’t sell particularly well, and the Mega Drive sequel wasn’t picked up for translation. Langrisser II also made it to the Super Famicom as Der Langrisser, but again no western release was forthcoming. This unfortunate trend remained in place for the rest of the series’ lifespan, with the three Sega Saturn instalments remaining Japanese exclusives. By the time the lacklustre Dreamcast entry Langrisser Millennium arrived in 1999, the core team behind the series had already left Masaya to form Career Soft, which would go on to make the popular Growlanser series for Atlus. However, the franchise is set to spring to life again with a new entry called Langrisser Schwarz, a free-to-play online RPG which is currently in development at Taiwanese studio Gamania. Sadly, aside from Noriyuki Iwadare’s music, it would appear that none of the original developers are involved and Satoshi Urushihara isn’t providing the artwork, either.

The Mega Drive version of Langrisser was given a Wii Virtual Console release in Japan, but unfortunately Warsong hasn’t appeared on the western version of the service. Although Langrisser Schwarz proves that there is still interest in the series, it’s probably not significant enough to warrant a new full-blown console release. This is a real shame, because Langrisser is easily one of the best games of this type, and can even show Fire Emblem a thing or two when it comes to pitting massive armies against one another. A remake of the original game — along with enhanced 2D visuals and a remixed version of Noriyuki Iwadare's incredible soundtrack — would go down very nicely here at Nintendo Life Towers, but we’re fully aware that hell may have to freeze over before that actually happens. In the meantime, we’ll just have to bust out the Mega Drive and hope that our dusty and well-worn copy of Warsong still has a working battery back-up.

Special thanks to Hardcore Gaming 101 for providing the screenshots used in this feature.

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User Comments (32)

Spoony_Tech

#1

Spoony_Tech said:

Sure!! I'm up for some more strategy games. Bring them all on. Looks like it could be lots of fun!

Jumanji_Arcade

#2

Jumanji_Arcade said:

Wow, now this looks like my kind of game series. Also, how can you not love those insane 90's anime hairstyles and closed eye sparkle tears.

THENAMESNORM

#3

THENAMESNORM said:

I'd certainly buy this whether it was released on the Wii U VC or a re-make. Hopefully someone is paying attention!

CanisWolfred

#4

CanisWolfred said:

Loved Warsong on the Genesis. Would be nice if they remade Langrisser 2-5 someday. Also, I love Satoshi Urushihara's artwork.

DePapier

#5

DePapier said:

(Haven't read the article yet.) They were on SEGA, that's why they lost against Fire Emblem. :P

VIVE FIRE EMBLEM !!! :D

WiiLovePeace

#7

WiiLovePeace said:

Wow that sounds like an intensely amazing game series, I'd love to buy a remake on Wii U or 3DS if by some miracle it became available.

misswliu81

#8

misswliu81 said:

fire emblem was to nintendo as langrisser is to sega. this game would definitely interest fire emblem fans and it would be nice to see the original on the wii U V.C as well.

retro_player_22

#11

retro_player_22 said:

A decent strategy/RPG series, the problem is it never came out anywhere but the J island otherwise I would be so over it. Warsong was okay though.

Noboty

#12

Noboty said:

I actually want to play this game now. A shame the originals aren't being remade.

therick112

#15

therick112 said:

I wasn't asking so much for a remake, just would love them to start developing Shining Force again.

Gamesake

#18

Gamesake said:

After beating Warsong, I've been trying to keep up with Japanese Langrissers over the years. Looks like the series went to hell during the 32 bit era. Not looking for a reboot or anything so grand, I'm just hoping to see all the 16 bit games finally make their way over here someday.

shinpichu

#20

shinpichu said:

@CanisWolfred
Alright, so it happened. Currently it has a 77% Metacritic score, which sounds to me like receptions was pretty okay. I mean, sure, apparently anything below a 9/10 is a bad score nowadays, but still, 77% sounds like a pretty decent score to me. Edit: and the user score is higher, at 88%, close to 9/10. I'm not seeing how "no one liked it."

ecco6t9

#21

ecco6t9 said:

Instead of Shining Force Feather we were rewarded with Sands of Destruction.

decolley25

#22

decolley25 said:

I literally created an account after "lurking" on this website for years because someone finally mentioned Warsong/Langrisser. I still play this on my Genesis all the time. I sent a request to Nintendo to add it to the Virtual Console years ago, and I think it has to be my favorite game of all time. As a huge fan of Fire Emblem, it pales next to the depth of Warsong. I'm 28 now and still remember the first time I ever played and how dark this game is (Baldarov!!) comparitively. Thanks for a great article recognizing it!!

DamoAdmin

#24

Damo said:

@decolley25 Sounds like you and me are very much alike. Warsong is probably one of my most-played games ever - I played it to death at launch and then bought another copy around 1996 and played it again, all the way through. I'd even restart missions over and over to make sure I got the most experience points possible and levelled up my guys as quickly as I could - it made a real difference on some of the later missions. It's just such a perfect game, I can't think of any way I'd improve it. The visuals are simple and effective, the action is brilliant and the music is just sublime.

Glad you liked the feature!

1080ike

#25

1080ike said:

I haven't actually played Warsong, but I've played most of the Shining Force games. Lemme tell you, THAT is the closest thing to Fire Emblem you will find on a Sega system (and in general; shame there hasn't been a new game released in west since III). And no, the remake doesn't count.

brucelebnd

#26

brucelebnd said:

I would love to see it. I'm a huge Fire Emblem fan but Langrisser usually beats them hands down and that's no disrespect to the Fire Emblem franchise. Langrisser and Langrisser 2 are probably 2 of the best games on the megadrive. somebody needs to bring this to the VC or eShop

GreenDream

#27

GreenDream said:

YES! This would be great! However, the Growlanser series has been about the closest thing to anything like this possibly making it over to the western world. The last game in the series to do that was a long-overdue enhanced port to the PSP, released last year. The best bet for anything like this making an appearance on a Nintendo system would be the 3DS. With Fire Emblem and Etrian Oddysey 4 recently released, it's shaping up to be a great handheld for JRPG's!

So yeah, if JRPG's are getting good sales, maybe... otherwise, future renditions of Langrisser will certainly remain a pipe dream.

GreenDream

#28

GreenDream said:

@1080ike Even with Shining Force 3, the western world only got 1/3 of the entire Shining Force 3 saga, due to Sega of America's epic bungling of the Saturn. Translation and Japanese copies have been the only way to experience it... Yet another rare piece of history, lost in time...

GreenDream

#29

GreenDream said:

@Gamesake Langrisser ended after #5 on the Saturn. It actually did go out with a nice bang, but yeah, #3 was not quite so good. #4 was praised for having multiple paths.

GreenDream

#30

GreenDream said:

@decolley25 Have you seen translations of the Japanese script? It's probably more unadulterated than the English scripts of the time period, due to data limitations imposed by the increased byte cost of English characters over Japanese characters.

Zodiak13

#31

Zodiak13 said:

I love this site. I constantly am reminded that my game knowledge is not nearly as great as I thought. I have never heard of this series (perhaps Warsong), and I feel cheated for not ever playing them. If this was remade I would get it day 1.

FantasiaWHT

#32

FantasiaWHT said:

Ugh... Warsong... so fun, but so hard! Never beaten it. Each time I try I make it a little farther, but I always get to a spot where I'm just not strong enough to beat a fight and there's nothing you can do about it.

Growlanser Generations on the PS2 was a fantastic game. I loved the lack of a grid.

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