Langrisser Re:Incarnation -TENSEI-

FW:All Animators -You’re Fired-
Langrisser Re:Incarnation -TENSEI-! What a mouthful that is. What is a langrisser? Why is it being Re:Incarnated? What is the deal with this title?

Well, as the name implies, Langrisser Re:Incarnation -Tensei- is an attempt to resurrect a dormant tactics series in order to capitalize on Fire Emblem’s new found resurgence of popularity. Langrisser may not have been the most popular RPG series on the planet, but it did/does have its own set of devoted followers. So can this reincarnated series stand up to the aforementioned Fire Emblem “behemoth” and deliver these loyal fans the shot of life they deserve? No, not really…Not even close to be honest. This game is mediocre at best, and laughably embarrassing at worst. I think it would take a great deal of forgiveness and looking-the-other-way for a fan of the past games to embrace this new era of Langrisser.

“Embarrassing you say? That is quite a strong word to use, how do you justify such a statement!?”

Well, yes. This game is actually embarrassing and I feel bad for those involved with its creation. It isn’t even the bland tactics gameplay or the “me too!” attitude this game exudes that embarrasses it. No, something far worse muddles this title. Something that should never have made it past quality assurance. Something that any 1st year HIGH SCHOOL student with a pirated copy of the latest 3D animation suite could have improved upon. The embarrassing blemish I speak of are the insipid battle animations in this game. Let me be perfectly clear: Think of the worst possible animation quality you can think of. OK? Its worse than that.

Rest assured that I will talk of the gameplay and all the rest of that later in the review, but these battle animations are so frustratingly terrible that it deserves a good chunk of this review to elaborate on. When the dust settles and this generation of games is history, this game WILL be remembered for this and only this. This is the only “stand out” thing about this title, and it is not a positive feature at all.

When two units engage in combat, the view shifts to an action scene of the two units clashing. What should have been an impressively animated scene of swords striking and arrows flying is instead populated with little chibi super deformed…um…things, that waddle towards each other, stop, then poke each other once. Sometimes one of them will fall over, die, then explode (why?). You might say to yourself “But super deformed chibi style is supposed to be like that!” No. It is not. Super deformed is not a shorthand for laziness. You can have super deformed character models that are still detailed and fluidly animated. What this is, is just beyond me. That something this inept could ever be passed off as a “feature” to a game is absolutely baffling.

They could have just not included these battle animations and the product would be that much better for it. Hell, if they HAD to have animations, I think having the character profile picture shake a little with a slashing animation over it would have ended up better than what we got. Thankfully and mercifully, these awful animations that I speak of can be skipped and/or turned off. So really, while these are embarrassing and a detriment to the game from a production standpoint, they will not detract from your enjoyment of the rest of the package if you are slightly vigilant.

OK, now that we’ve talked about the elephant in the room lets move on to the rest of the safari. We’ve turned the animations off…So what are we left with? Well, frankly we’re left with a rather lackluster pile of strategy RPG. Nothing about this game really stands out or elevates itself above mediocrity (which is why those bad animations REALLY stood out. All right, i’ll stop talking about them, sorry). The story is bland and really doesn’t do much to capture the player and draw them in. You play as Ares (wow, original name!), a naive youth who is thrust into the middle of a war between his peaceful nation and the evil empire who just wishes to kill innocents and cause general villainy. But wait! There’s more! You pick up the holy sword Langrisser and become the chosen one! Ares is then forced to challenge his beliefs and defend those who can’t defend themselves! …Yay? I mean, whatever; I guess it isn’t the worst story ever, but its nothing we haven’t seen before in some form or another.

When all is said and done, the game really has a sort of “cobbled together” feel to it. Nothing really seems to mesh well with anything else. It almost seems like this game started as a few other concepts, but then they scrapped them, used what they had and slapped the “Langrisser” franchise on it and called it a game. The skirmish music sounds like something straight out of a Super Robot Wars game and doesn’t really fit with this weird hybrid fantasy setting. Common enemy grunts have a sprite that resembles something from the Fallout universe, but their profile pics are just “generic male soldier.” Enemies range from biker gangs to flying dragoons, but regardless of what you are, everybody explodes when they die. Its all just…Odd. Maybe it was intentional, but I severely doubt it. It almost feels like more thought and consideration was put into making a “clever” Portable Review banner for this review than was actually put into this game. In fact, i’m sure of it…

Speaking of character profiles, for whatever reason (probably money) the developers chose to not use the Urushihara character models that past games in the series have used. Now this might not seem like a big deal, but to fans it might be akin to something like Dragon Quest no longer using Toriyama’s art style. Its just another layer of the Langrisser onion that was peeled and left on the kitchen floor. The character designs that they used are just all “generic anime” and aren’t that memorable. Also, female characters come in two varieties: Ridiculous Giant Breasts or Ridiculous Lolis, with very little variation in between.

Trim and finish aside, at least the game plays basically like you would expect a tactics/strategy RPG to play, with a few differences here and there to “try” to be different. The Langrisser franchise has the “10HP system”, similar to Advance Wars games. Each unit has 10HP (soldiers, whatever) and the more it has the better it will fare in combat. There is a sort of unit/weapon triangle like Fire Emblem has so that you have to think about what units to throw into battle. Between battles, your main units can hire “throw-away” mercenary units to help them in battle. This almost feels necessary because the maps are huge and overstuffed with enemy units, so if you don’t want to feel hopelessly outnumbered, hire some mercs! Also between battles you can converse with your allies to increase your bond/waifu-levels/whatever. Whats a tactics game without the social aspect these days, right?

To be perfectly honest, I had a hard time getting invested in this game. There is just not really anything gripping or compelling about it to keep you going. It feels like, given the lack of effort put into the production, why should the player be expected to put more effort back in? The game reminds me of an old Family Guy joke where they spoofed The Six Million Dollar Man. One of the characters says “We can rebuild him…But I don’t want to spend a lot of money…” Then it cuts to a shot of Peter running along with a trashcan for a leg and a rake for an arm. That is how this game feels sometimes. It can run along at its own pace just fine, but for some reason, the arms and legs feel like they don’t belong. A more descriptive name for this game would be: “Langrisser: Reboot, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money TENSEI.” You have to REALLY be craving another srpg to be able to stick with this title, especially when considering the other quality srpg offerings the 3DS (or even the DS) have to offer. If you’re an oldschool Langrisser fan, this game will just make you long for the good old days.

You should probably just stay away in most cases.