Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei - Review  

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
by Mike "JuMeSyn" Moehnke

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20-40 Hours
+ Multiple paths and battles
+ Combat gets the job done
- Good parts all taken from previous Langrissers
- Uninteresting script and characters
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   The Langrisser series may set a record for longest gap between localized entries of any series, with the very first coming out as Warsong back in 1991 on the Sega Genesis, then nothing else crossing the Pacific until 2016. Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei is unfortunately not a demonstration of the series at its best, along with presenting yet another instance of a Japanese developer putting together seemingly random words and punctuation to form a title. Despite this Langrisser not being very good, I can't come down on it as hard as some other reviewers, just because it managed to hold a minimal amount of my attention without being infuriating. While I can hardly bestow the level of praise publishers dream of getting, this game isn't a worthless lump of refuse.

   Classic Langrisser combat was a demonstration of how to effectively put far more participants onto a battleground than other tactical series offered, and this game keeps the gist of that idea. Each character in a battle can purchase mercenaries prior to the encounter's start, and these troops have a symbiotic relationship with the commander. Standing next to the commander will heal a mercenary by three HP every turn, which makes a big difference when the maximum health for any unit is always ten. If the soldiers try to act outside of a clearly defined command radius, the statistic boost received from their commander vanishes and renders the mercenaries easy prey. Killing a commander will cause all of his or her troops to instantly perish though, which is critical to remember. Any experience earned by the mercenaries goes directly to their commander, and at the end of a battle surviving troops are redeemed for some of what they originally cost. By Re:Incarnation's end commanders can hire four or five mercenaries each, which makes for crowded battlefields.

   Langrisser on 3DS gets the basics of this approach right without achieving the depth of older games in the series. While there are a variety of unit types with strengths and weaknesses, in this game simply overpowering the opposition with a few characters who can steamroll everything in their path is a viable option. Troop types make less of a difference than in prior titles of the series, and thus less careful attention to the opposition is needed for survival. Enemy AI is sometimes stupider than that of other Langrisser titles, which is quite an accomplishment considering the span of years involved. Seeing a character obviously programmed to move in a straight line get stuck against a wall instead of moving to the side demonstrates the lack of artificial intelligence to be found.

   Re:Incarnation manages to come up with some battle variety, but not as much as would be ideal, with the few scenarios where enemies must be prevented from reaching a certain spot standing out among the plethora of 'everything must die' landscapes. Reusing the same battlegrounds is a common practice, and even though the enemy placement is different, such a step is needlessly lazy. Much of the variety stems from branching paths, though each playthrough will feature the same antagonists popping up in multiple battles without much variation.

This shopkeeper This shopkeeper's image raises multiple questions that will never be answered.

   Langrisser on 3DS is also a bit backward compared to its antecedents in the ways of inventory and menus, though its problems are irritating instead of disastrous. There is no way to check an intended equipment purchase's effect upon individual commanders before buying, and the resale price in stores is a mere ten percent of the initial procurement sum. This title has a strange habit of only depicting a battlefield's troop layout prior to plot events that change the composition of the enemy, making it hard to plan early moves. No in-battle save option exists, something that even the very first game offered and the absence of which is unfortunate. Things at least move quickly in combat and while preparing, which is not always the case in tactical titles.

   Re:Incarnation's events begin when Imperial troops search for the wielder of the legendary Langrisser. Young Ares happens to be the one with the sword, and rather than demurely walking into captivity he chooses to fight back with the help of a few friends. Soon enough Ares has to start making decisions about with which faction in the continental conflict to ally, as the threat of rising sea levels ensures that speed is of the essence to survive.

   It's partly a function of the unremarkable artwork in this Langrisser that its characters aren't as memorable as the ones drawn by Satoshi Urushihara in the older titles. The script does them few favors though, packing plenty of one-note personalities into the mix and not making them very interesting as the game proceeds. Aksys's localization is only fair, with some pedestrian dialogue and occasional typos to mar the text. It's telling that the games which were never brought across the Pacific had more memorable casts than this one possesses.

Strangely enough, I never had this many troops under any one character even at the game Strangely enough, I never had this many troops under any one character even at the game's end. WHAT GIVES?

   Noriyuki Iwadare compositions accompanied earlier Langrisser games, and the developers of this one decided to reuse those tracks here. The effect of taking music from Langrisser 2 and repurposing it in this game gives a strong soundtrack, but a lazy one. While the compositions selected are new versions instead of simple copies from the original games, the total soundtrack is not very large and would have benefited from a few more veteran tracks getting covered. Voice acting is simply annoying, since a small number of brief phrases in Japanese were recorded for each character and played ad nauseum every time that personality says something.

   Outside of attack animations, Re:Incarnation is serviceable but hardly impressive from a graphical standpoint. A couple of technical issues are annoying, such as a railway landscape on which the move range is invisible, but this is not insurmountable. Animation of combat sequences takes a long time and showcases bobble-headed participants that are thoroughly uninspiring, which makes the ability to turn off these animations a boon.

   I can't come up with a whole lot of positives to the 3DS Langrisser, since saying that it's better than the Dreamcast series abomination doesn't set the bar high. It nevertheless held my interest until the conclusion, despite disappointing me in many ways. This isn't a good tactical game, and I'm hard-pressed to actually recommend it to anyone with standards. It's not the worst tactical title to ever be created though — not when Idea Factory's library exists.

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