RPG Review #56: Warsong

I have played quite a lot RPGs, but there are very few that I have cancelled playing. Sometimes, it's because the gameplay was just too frustrating for me to handle. Games like Final Fantasy II, Golvellius, and Startropics fit this bill, the latter two ended up becoming reviewed since I managed to get more than halfway through the game and I had things to talk about. But not Final Fantasy II since I couldn't get far in without getting defeated really easily. Other times I cancel playing a game is out of boredom, when I just get bored with gameplay mechanics and decide to not continue it. Games that fit this bill are Secret of the Stars for the SNES, the recent Grandia: Parallel Trippers, and this Sega Genesis game, Warsong, which I decided to revisit since I feel as if I did not do it justice. Warsong is the first of several games in the Langrisser franchise, just this one title was named as such while later titles just used the Langrisser moniker.

Gameplay: Warsong is a tactical turn-based strategy game, with RPG elements attached to it. I never was one for the strategy games personally, and only had some experience with the genre from playing Suikoden's war battles. And yes, I still have yet to play a single Fire Emblem game. The game is laid out in scenarios. At the beginning of each scenario, we are shown a summary of what's up, the conditions for victory and defeat (and defeat basically means the death of the main character). Then you get to choose how many soldiers (maximum of 8) for each respective commander you have in the army (and if you have more than 8, you can elect one out for another). Items that are retrieved at the end of scenarios can be equipped on characters for stat boosts. When ready, you start the combat, and then you place your commanders accordingly on the map of the battlefield.

The reason I didn't like this game the first time is how the combat goes. You have control over the commanders, but almost everything else is pretty much AI controlled. A commander can move, attack, use magic if applicable, and treat themselves (self-heal). The way battles go also irked me, as there's really no control on the outcome. Units have a max health of 10, and during a battle, units fight automatically until one reaches 0, which eliminates a unit. The winning unit gains experience upon victory, and the commander of a unit can gain levels this way. Once a commander reaches level 10, they can get a class change. As for commanders in combat, they are superior in power over everything except other commanders and maybe some special units. A commander who dies in battle is permanently dead (in the case of an allied commander) and any soldiers under their regiment also are removed.

So there are different types of soldiers. The basic ones are the soldiers, horsemen, and archers. Can you find a rock, paper, and scissors here? Yep, horsemen murder soldiers, but are murdered by archers, who aren't too good against soldiers. Other units exist, like monks who are good against undead (skeletons) and guardsmen who generally suck against everything except slimes. There's also mermen who are also terrible, especially when they are fish out of water, and gryphons which are expensive but aren't affected by terrain and are pretty good. Generally, horsemen are great against everything except archers and archers are good against flying targets. With the proper strategy, Warsong is one strategic game. Grade: B

Characters: Warsong had plenty of playable commanders, and some NPCs as well.
Garrett: He's the prince of Baltia and the main character, son of king Alfador (an NPC). Since he's the main, Garrett must survive everything or its game over. He's generally good at surviving thankfully, and as usual is the strongest character overall. Classes he can become are Magic Knight, King, Knight Master, or Grand Knight. King is a unique class for Garrett but it's magic isn't that good. I recommended either Grand Knight or Magic Knight, and went with Grand Knight since others are magic knights as well.
Baldarov: The swordmaster who journeys with Garrett in the beginning. Amazing defense, his biggest flaw is that he cannot gain experience, so it's a good idea for Baldarov to weaken commanders so Garrett gets the kill and experience.
Mina: Joins along the way, she starts as a cleric class and is generally weak, but starts out with some healing magic which helps. She has a number of classes to go to, the best being Saint, Ranger, and Arch Mage. But as a cleric she's hard to level up since she only gets guardsmen most of the time as her troops.
Thorne: Thorne is a character that really doesn't fit in the game. He's like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the game in how he looks, and has an American flag behind his in-game portrait, in a fantasy game for crying out loud. In battle he's just a competent fighter. Recommended classes are Knight Master or Magic Knight. I like the Magic Knight more for it's good magic ability.
Sabra: An ally in the beginning, Sabra's a strong fighter early on. She can become a Grand Knight like Garrett, or a Magic Knight, or preferably a Dragon Knight, with immense power and range and the ability to have gryphons as troops.
Tiberon: He sort of looks like Kyle from Lunar: Silver Star. Starts out as a Crocodile Knight and can control mermen, but he's really slow. He can become a unique Serpent Knight, but I don't recommend this because its greatest strength is in water and there's barely any after the halfway point of the game. Better is a Knight Master, which isn't too bad.
Calais: The court mage, with attack magic. Same classes as Mina, but I recommend the Arch Mage class since it's quick and easy.
Bayard: You rescue him in Scenario 7 and he turns out to be the same as Thorne as far as battle qualities are concerned.
Carleon: A duke, he joins late but is just like Thorne and Bayard.
Lance: An enemy for many scenarios, he later joins up near the end of the game as a Dragon Knight. Does not gain experience
So a lot of fun characters to use. I'll give it that, if you think about keeping everyone alive. Grade: B+

Plot: Since this is in scenarios, I divide it all up accordingly
Scenario 1: Garrett and Baldarov must escape the castle while his father Alfador and other commanders stay behind. I really hate this scenario due to how underpowered the characters are, and that you can only control two. In theory it could be possible to kill everything but that is ridiculously hard.
Scenario 2: Garrett and Baldarov meet up with Mina and lots of citizens, and are on the road running from barbarians, which are thankfully easier targets to kill. Mina must survive this scenario.
Scenario 3: Garrett and Mina awaken to find the town they're in under attack by barbarians. Thorne helps out here. Again, Mina must survive and the goal is to kill the main enemy commander.
Scenario 4: Garrett and Baldarov are in trouble when groups of slimes come in. However Mina and Thorne arrive and join up, and they generally get the slimes good here. Sabra joins up at the end of this scenario.
Scenario 5: Here, Garrett's target is Lance, on the far side of some mountain range. No matter how well this scenario is played out Baldarov will always die at the end from an arrow.
Scenario 6: Garrett returns to the castle to find it overrun by Lord Geryon and his soldiers. Upon victory Calais and Tiberon, allies in the first scenario, join Garrett.
Scenario 7: A very difficult scenario. One commander, Bayard, must survive, and his fort is under siege from a commander known as Momus, but your troops are on the far side of the river. Also Lance shows up again at some point. Bayard joins Garrett after the scenario.
Scenario 8: Garrett has most of the enemy surrounded and the chief commander is the next target. A generally easy mission, and again Lance shows up some time.
Scenario 9: Another difficult mission, as you have to cross a river. What I did was let them come to me. Just then, a large amount of krakens show up, and they basically attack anyone, including your enemies. And Lance likes to show up again.
Scenario 10: Garrett lays siege to an enemy castle in the water, with a number of enemy mages being the chief commander's defenders. Carleon joins at this point.
Scenario 11: With eight commanders entering two from four entrances, Garrett lays siege to the main enemy castle. The goal is to move to the castle center. Lance shows up in this one too, and also groups of flying monsters also storm the castle.
Scenario 12: Breaching the walls, four of Garrett's commanders fall into a close-range trap, while another group with Garrett is at the main entrance of this area. The ultimate goal is to defeat the Kaiser Pythion, and defeating him earns the player the titular sword, Warsong.
Scenario 13: There's a ruined city with several stone soldiers up ahead. Garrett has to fight off basilisks, and this is one to be careful with as being turned to stone is a death condition. In addition, there are slimes and giant ant monsters. By sending a commander to a treasure chest, the stone soldiers are cured, and it's actually Lance and his group, who decide to join Garrett.
Scenario 14: Seems like an easy mission when there's one target, the lone wolf in the middle. But then the wolf pack comes out and attacks the city in this scenario. All of the werewolves must be killed here.
Scenario 15: A large, great dragon is the main enemy here, and he's too tough for everyone. There's also a shaman group, which when killed summons Efreet, the fire spirit, who will help Garrett defeat the great dragon.
Scenario 16: Garrett's group corners the dragon in a valley (looks like a cave from top-down view). A chest here contains the Dragon Slayer, conveniently next to the dragon. Slaying it makes Garrett realize the real enemy lies in the city of Seneferia.
Scenario 17: Garrett goes across the road to Seneferia, fighting monsters along the way.
Scenario 18: Arriving in Seneferia, there's more enemies in the ruined city, and also the conjurer Naxos. Lance leaves the army after this scenario is over.
Scenario 19: Another wizard, the sorcerer Mortimus, guards the sanctum here. Garrett must defeat him to reach the final scenario.
Scenario 20: The final battle is the longest, with several living armors and skeletons guarding the Wight Ganelon. Killing Ganelon is actually not the end of it, as a monster known as Chaos (such a common name), appears to attack the army. Defeating him means the end of the game.

Overall we see how Garrett can command a good army to victory over various opponents. He's the only person who ends up talking in most scenarios, so he has a lot of lines. He is, however, a bit one-note in character, always being a hero and all. But the various opponents and dilemmas he faces in the plot shell out what his character is about. Grade: B+

Music: A pretty action-packed Sega Genesis track for many of the scenarios. It's alright, for every phase of the player and enemy going there's a different track. Nothing to really note though. Grade: C

Overall Grade: B

Maybe I ought to get more into strategy RPGs, although I never liked them at first. This game was a fun revisit, it's just the first mission that sucked for me. But as any of these games would play out, it was decent enough.