Review by FrauMann1
"A true shame this never made it out of Japan."
Langrisser II was released in 1994 on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis as a direct sequel to the 1991 game Langrisser (also known as Warsong outside of Japan). The original was a great game I enjoyed playing for hours on end! I played it for years not knowing that there was actually a sequel. For whatever reason, the publishers decided not to port Langrisser II to the rest of the world, and keep this little gem in Japan.
Langrisser II takes place in the same region as the original, El Salia, hundreds of years later, with an adventure that could rival a full-length movie. The story begins with the protagonist, Elwin, and his friend, Hein, resting in a small peaceful town after a long journey across the land. Suddenly, the fearsome Blue Dragon Knights of the powerful Rayguard Empire interrupt the townsfolk by kidnapping Elwin's childhood friend, Liana. Elwin has no choice but to interfere, though obviously outmatched. The dialogue from the opening sequence itself is a good indication of how amazing the storyline is. As you progress, the story focuses on the 2 legendary blades of El Salia, the holy Langrisser and it's counterpart, Al-hazard, as Elwin meets new allies, faces tough enemies, and becomes stronger in a quest to unite the land.
Taking the exact same formula as the first, Langrisser II adds so much more, I guarantee you will never get tired of it. The main objective is to clear each scenario based on each level's goals. To do this, you will be moving your troops across a tiled map to attack enemy soldiers. Each scenario is divided into turns. One turn for you to move your army, and one for the enemy. It then goes back and forth until either the scenario's goals are met or one side is completely wiped out.
Before the battle even starts, you will be given the chance to assign troops to your individual commanders. These commanders are very important and very strong. Keep them alive at all costs. If a commander is injured they can heal themselves or others by treating or by use of magic. Once the commander dies, all remaining troops assigned to that commander disband and disappear from the battle. Even if they have health remaining. Knowing this, the same holds true for your enemy.
Once you move your soldier directly next to an enemy, you are given the option to attack. Once engaged, the screen will change to a panorama of the battle scene, with the attacking troops on the left, and the defending troops on the right. Though you hold no control over this part of the game, it doesn't seem to take away from the play at all. In fact, it probably keeps things at a fast pace which is nice in a game as long as this. Once the quick little battle is over, both units may or may not be injured. The number next to each individual troop's icon represents their health with 10 being full strength and 0 being dead (in which case the soldier disappears from the battle for good). The more health, the more damage they can deal. If your troops are injured there are a couple of ways they can be healed. The first, which is available at any point in the game, requires you to simply place your troop next to it's designated commander. At the beginning of your next turn, their health will go up by 3. The second and quicker way is to use magic.
Probably the most unique feature about the Langrisser series that separates it from other RPGs is it's leveling system. As in most RPGs, you fight enemies and gain experience, the same applies here. However, once your commander reaches level 10, they receive a class upgrade! They receive more stats, can hire different troops, and learn powerful magic spells. Did I mention you can also pick the class path they go down? That's right, not only can you choose to make each commander any class in the game, but there are a lot to choose from! Everything from simple fighters and warlocks, to rangers, knight masters, and zarveras! Each with their own attacks, troops, and magic spells.
One more thing that puts the gameplay in Langrisser II over the top are the little things that really make you stop and plan your course of attack. The first thing you may notice is a flashing aura around your commander. If that leader's troops are in that aura, they will receive a stat bonus. So it's a good idea to keep your troops close. Another element that becomes obvious during the course of a battle is the terrain. Places like forests offer more defense, and mountains make it hard to move troops around. Some units even receive bonuses for being on a certain terrain.
And probably your first priority when choosing a strategy is to look at the type of troops your enemy has. This aspect of the game is so important that even if the enemy is pushing strong and the scenario is starting to look grim. a simple type advantage will change the course of the entire battle. Some advantages are obvious right away. A soldier is perfect for hand to hand combat against a pikeman. A pikeman's spear is a perfect attack against a mounted unit. And a mounted unit just rolls over soldiers. There are many more which may or may not be as simple to identify.
The Genesis at it's best! Fast-paced action and colorful fluid environments. The dialogue is beautifully portrayed in easy to read boxes with a snapshot of the person who is talking in the top left. Their emotions even change over the course of a conversation giving you a very good feel on the conversation! Every little detail is bright and colorful right down to the little swords and shields the soldiers are holding. There are absolutely no problems with lag or graphical glitches. However, the only flaw is that unless you speak Japanese, you will have to find a fan-translated version where some of the text can get a little... err.... weird. Not that often though.
The composers who made the music in Langrisser II, Noriyuki Iwadare and Isao Mizoguchi, are geniuses. The music in this game are some of the most memorable I have ever heard in a video game. The tone is set perfectly by the highly detailed music. Right out of the gate in the first level, the music is saying, "Something's going down!". The sounds perfectly compliment the game as well to complete an unbelievable soundtrack for a video game, let alone, a Genesis game.
There are so many ways to go about playing Langrisser II, I doubt you will be satisfied after beating it once, twice, or even several times! Not to mention the developers even placed a few secrets hidden away. You may have to look hard for them (or just check online) but they are worth it. My only gripe about Langrisser II is the linear storyline. Unlike it's counterpart, Der Langrisser, you can only take one route to beat the game. But that hardly slows it down as there are a plethora of levels to play and strategies to come up with.
Langrisser II is a fantastic game! I only hope you will take the time to give this Japan only game a chance. For it is definitely worth it! Thank you for reading!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/07/10
Game Release: Langrisser II (JP, 08/26/94)
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