The 3DS and its predecessor the DS are solid choices for strategy RPGs and real-time strategy games. That’s probably because their interface closely mirrors the use of a mouse, making it easy to command units around maps and have them fight and die in your name. The latest fantasy warfare adventure to hit the system is Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei, which we’ll refer to as Langrisser to save everyone a little sanity. This is the first Langrisser to come out in quite some time, but I’m not especially familiar with the originals so we’ll be looking at the game on its own merits.
Langrisser stars Ares, a standard JRPG hero with a standard JRPG magic sword. Ares’ world is gradually dying thanks to endlessly rising sea levels and the machinations of an evil empire. You’ve also got your standard cast of characters, including the ability to chat with them between battles and raise relationship points, you know the drill. Largely, it’s up to our hero to recruit a whole bunch of expendable mooks and have them die for him while he sits back and eats a burrito.
See, the biggest change in Langrisser as opposed to other SRPGs is the presence of mercenaries. These are basically mini-units that serve as extensions of your actual characters. If a mercenary gets too far from their associated character their stats drastically drop and they become easy prey, so you’re best off thinking of your characters as anchors from which your mercenaries can work. What’s more, if a character dies, their associated mercenaries are gone as well. Every character has ten HP, no more and no less, so there’s not a lot of numeric craziness going on here and the focus is instead of proper positioning. Arranging your characters properly to cut through swathes of mercenaries and reach their associated commanders is key.
Despite the fact that all these units running around can slow the pace of battles down a bit, Langrisser isn’t an especially difficult game. Pushing experience on a single character can rapidly overlevel them to the point where they’re practically unstoppable. Eventually I found this to be a boon, since otherwise you’d be looking at half an hour per battle and that’s asking a little much from a handheld game.
Powerlevelling characters has another benefit as well; eventually they’ll change classes and earn new capabilities. This is a good idea in theory, particularly since you’re allowed to choose how your characters develop and which classes they change to, but in a bizarre decision some of these classes eventually gain access to an ultra-powerful final form and some just don’t. I assume this was an attempt to add replay value, but it mostly just caused immense frustration when I found out about it down the line.
Langrisser’s presentation is…uh, well. The game generally looks pretty good, but the battle scenes are some of the worst I’ve seen in a strategy RPG. Super-deformed and super-jaggy characters take swings at the air between each other. It’s not great. As for the plot and writing, they’re both passable if not impressive. I caught a few embarrassing typos here and there, suggesting that the script probably could have used a little more love, but I doubt this was a priority project and the fact that it was localized at all is a little surprising.
Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei isn’t a terrible game, it just doesn’t do a lot to stand out from other SRPGs. On a platform with only a few SRPGs of low quality that might not be an issue, but this one’s going up against the likes of Fire Emblem. If you’ve finished Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates, then then this might be worth a look, bit otherwise you shouldn’t feel too bad about giving Langrisser a pass.