Warsong: An unforgettable RPG
Warsong was released for the Sega Genesis, or sometimes referred to as Mega Drive back in April of 1991. I do not know what the most primitive strategy-RPG game was -- it might have been Warsong. However, there could have been other audio games which are not known to me. But, Warsong was definitely my gateway into this genre.
This game came out with the name Langrisser in some countries. I didn't know anything about games that much, but when I was gifted the first Pentium 2 PC I also got a Sega games collection with it. In the game pack was Warsong.
Something about the pixel-like artworks and tiny characters running about on the screen appealed to me. I didn't know something so distorted in appearance could catch my interest at that time. Then again, in the last decade the gaming industry has advanced so much that it might as well be called a trip to the future.
However, the art style really clicked with me. The colourful graphics has an anime feel to them when showing the character portraits. The battles that took place were actually very active as soldiers killed each other with a left side fighting the right side type of mechanics that will be incorporated later in other games like Dragon Force and Sega Saturn. For the time in which it was released, the map designs and backdrops were pretty well detailed.
Getting on to the sound and music, the mono and somewhat mechanical sounds got the job done well. After so many years when I remembered the name I couldn't help myself from downloading a copy and reminiscing the old days. The shift in time and quality from then to now is very much noticeable. It would have been better seeing it now to have a bit more variety in the music, but that is not so bothersome.
Gameplay wise, the leader characters are the most important ones. If that character dies, then they are gone for good. A lot of saving is needed in that sense lest a luky hit from the enemy should terminate your hero for good. His difficulty levels in the game advances up very quickly as well.
Each of these leader characters have soldier units which they can control. And, each of them have a range of influence and the soldier units get boosts to their stats if they fight within that range. The leader characters can hire different kinds of soldiers at the start of each level. However, there is a type of anti-unit mechanics to which soldiers perform best against each another.
Other factors such as terrain and the equipped gear can cause ups and downs on the gameplay as well. After each level the player gets to use their collected gold from the previous battles to increase the number of soldiers or to buy something better for the leader character.
When a leader character dies (the enemy units are made up of these as well), their support soldiers will perish as well. This was an important strategic consideration because that was often the quick and easy way to win a level, but at the expense of gaining more experience by killing his soldier units first.
Some levels also have assorted neutral characters that will go after anyone who gets too close. Some missions are designed for certain types of soldiers as well -- for example one of your heroes can hire mermen and they are almost essential for water combat -- but they are almost useless in levels without water to cross.
The game is made up of twenty levels, which may not sound like much but each stage can take quite some time to get through. Thankfully the option to save during the middle of a map was available. This meant you did not have to set aside two hours to play through a map, and as mentioned before, it gave me a chance to have a fallback in case my tactics got a leader killed.
The menu and controls are very simple to navigate and while it is easy to learn. There are so many different tactics and unit strategies to apply. There is a perfectly valid reason to come back and play again once you beat the game. I think that's why I recalled this titled after such a long time.
The story itself is nothing new -- good guys are put on the run by attacking bad guys. Good guys regroup after getting smacked around a bit in the first level and they rally a force to defeat not only the known bad guys, but the greater evil, pulling the strings behind the scenes. It is all really well presented though, with story pieces between levels and dialog scenes from characters on maps. While you have no options to change the storyline itself, it was actually one that I found interesting enough to play through several times.
It was an interesting walk along the memory lane. Warsong is surely a title that can enchant some of the kids these days if they ever get full of Pokemon: Sun and Moon.