The strategy-RPG game series Langrisser is one of those interesting franchises that has a certain profile in the video game history, but not large enough to actually be famous. Developed by Masaya, Langrisser is without a doubt one of their most recognized brand and that’s not saying much. As a section of NCS, Masaya has produced more or less steady range of decent but rarely stellar titles throughout the years. There have been few next to Langrisser, e.g. Assault Suit Valken and Assault Suit Leynos 2 and Gleylancer. I’m not sure if Cho Aniki could be counted as a high grade game, but it certainly has its own cult following.
After Leynos 2, NCS pretty much dropped from the serious console game development and concentrated on producing various mahjong, shogi and go games with the occasional license game or two. It is rather safe to say that the 1990’s was the golden age for Masaya as a game producer and publisher. In the mid-2000’s a company called Extreme acquired Masaya’s library.
As such, it make sense to apply the Langrisser brand to a new game for the marginal recognition the series has, but that alone won’t carry the upcoming reboot.
Langrisser has been a combination of three distinct elements that has made it a fan favourite. First is the epic scale of the gameplay, and I do not use the term epic lightly here. The player will find themselves controlling numerous generals, which have power over hundreds of individual units on the field. Granted, these units are combined into squads of ten, but that doesn’t make it any less grand in scale when you have humongous amounts of units on stages that can span screens. There’s a huge amount of depth to the gameplay while still allowing leeway on how the game is being played, unlike other similar franchises, e.g. Fire Emblem. That said, it is more about the strategic thinking than just powering up than Nippon Ichi’s grindfests and while the games are slow paced overall, they don’t enforce stupid repetiton like the aforementioned.
Secondly, the games’ settings have always been simple at core, but can get highly complex. The traditional idea Light and Darkness fighting each other via their avatars is a recurring element in Langrisser, and the title itself refers to the holy sword within the game world. The Darkness has its own sword as well, the Alhazard, which could be said to be the original as Langrisser was created to oppose the Alhazard while being based on its core.
Thirdly, Satoshi Urushihara. More often than not people have found about Langrisser via Urushihara’s works, and that’s not a bad thing. As a fan of his production, Urushihara is a long time veteran in the animation and comic industry in Japan, especially in the adult markets. While his style divides people, it can’t be denied that what he does is extremely skilfully made and is unique. However, his style has been synonymous with the core Langrisser series since its beginning and lasted through the whole series. I admit that I have a bias for Urushihara’s works.
The music has been pretty good for the whole series, too. It is distinctly Japanese in flavour, but that goes to the whole damn series.
This is not the first time Langrisser gets a reboot. Langrisser Millennium and Millennium WS; The Last Century tried to create a new ongoing series, but seeing how Millennium is pretty awful and The Last Century was on WonderSwan, it’s no wonder the series slowly died. Now, granted nobody knew how to treat Langrisser at this point. The original staff had moved unto Growlanser series, which is essentially a spiritual successor to Langrisser in many ways. Not only it has most of the same staff, but it continued to have Urushihara as its main illustrator.
Langrisser in itself is a sequel to Japanese only PC games Elthlead, Crest of Gaia and Gaiframe. Technically speaking, Crest of Gaia is a remake of Elthlead, but that’s beside the point. These three games introduce the world where Langrisser takes place and introduced elements that would later appear in Langrisser, like the recurring enemy Böser. It should also be noted that Elthlead was published in 1987, year before Master of Monsters as can be traced to be one of the first games of its genre in its relatively modern form. It also precedes Fire Emblem, released in 1990.
The upcoming Langrisser remake worries me because of what it could be. The initial scans have leaked somewhat ambiguous information. We know very little about the game. However, the following thins are true; a company called Extreme owns the rights to the series now after acquiring Masaya under its wing with the rest of the Masaya library. Well, to be accurate, their website states that they have an agreement with NCS to use trademarks and copyrighted materials related to Masaya’s library. It looks like that Extreme is in joint cooperation with NCS, as Masaya’s website shows copyright information of both NSC and Extreme. Looking at their offering we can see that they have an emphasize on moefied mahjong games both on PC and on mobile phones.
Whether or not Langrisser is in good hands will remain to be seen. However, the information we’ve gained thus far is not too promising; while 10 unit squads return as per standard, but both the initial beginning and sword mentioned doesn’t seem fitting. The story seems to about a boy who finds Excalibur and goes find a girl who was taken from his side. Now, granted, that shouldn’t tell much, but when they’re explicitly going Excalibur, there seems to be only little hope.
There are reasons why this sort of approach to include that damn overused Arthurian piece into Langrisser as the first prominent sword for the hero is because they want to do something new. The CEO of Extreme, Soshi Saito, mentioned that they want to make this Langrisser be something different from the past games and the reason they opted not to include Urushihara as the illustrator is because… they felt they needed something new.
Then what’s the point of using the name Langrisser if you’re not making a full blown Langrisser game after all this time? The name has little to no recognition, only the very first title was releases outside Japan and I doubt they would have been successful either way thanks to Langrisser being extremely Japanese series and the sort of strategy RPG it is and that despite its cult following Langrisser never top sales.
However, at the same time I have to understand why they’re using the name. Brand recognition, the little it has. That, and Extreme themselves have practically nil brand recognition. They have been the ones distributing Masaya’s games via Wii’s Virtual Console, so I can thank them for Gleylancer. However, their own brand names have no carrying weight as they are mostly mobages.
Langrisser Millennium was an awful Langrisser game. It had no reason to carry the name, but at the same time it was shown to branch off from the main series with the Millennium title. I’m afraid that the 3DS Reboot will fail not because they want to deviate from the formula, but that they decide to deviate from the formula like Millennium. Langrisser Millennium had all the possibilities of being decent, but it had no strategic depth to it, or massive scale battles. I can’t remember how bad it really is as I haven’t played in some seven years. I’ll give it a go at some point. Same goes for the WonderSwan game, Langrisser Millennium WS; The Last Century, which in all honesty is adhered closely to the original games. At least one thing Millennium series has in common with the previous series of games was that it had an established porn comic maker as the illustrator, thou whether or not the designs are better up to personal taste. They aren’t for me.
Langrisser was essentially rebooted the twice before the 3DS Reboot. I talked Schwarz before, and it seems the game is essentially vaporware. If Extreme has the sole rights to the franchise, the Free-to-Play MMO won’t be released as Gamania was its developer, unless written documents say otherwise. Or seeing how Extreme had been controlling Masaya’s assets for about ten years now, it’s more applicable that Gamania has the legal rights for the name and has licensed Langrisser title from Extreme or something similar. In all honesty, Schwarz was a bad idea with good intentions, but if had been named something like Langrisser; Elthlead Saga or something like that would have told that the games took place in the same world, similarly as with the games preceding Langrisser. I like how the official Schwarz site proudly tells its past and doesn’t try to keep itself down. Even the characters have the fanservice and overdesigned clothing Urushihara’s illustrations had for Langrisser.
Yet, that something different from the 3DS Reboot looks uninspired, generic even. I just keep asking from myself; it they wanted to something different than Langrisser, then why the hell they had to call it Langrisser? We can live in good hope, we’ll have to see what will come. Tomorrow, perhaps. At least it looks promising at the moment, outside the damn bobblehead soldiers in battle sequences.