Warsong is a Tactical RPG for the Sega Genesis. It was originally released as Langrisser: The Descendants of Light. For some reason, the game was renamed Warsong when it was released in North America.
The game is a hybrid of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. I wouldn’t say I like it that much, and I would rather play Fire Emblem, Shining Force, or Advance Wars. The game has some good stuff, but overall, I would rather play Advance Wars.
The story and graphics are okay, and I like the battle animation. However, what the game does to stand out isn’t all that great.
TLDR: Gameplay falls short in an otherwise good game.
At first glance, Warsong has a fairly basic story. You play as a prince of a fictional kingdom that the followers of Chaos invade. This aligns your characters with the side of Order.
Your character flees from the siege of a castle and raises an army to fight back against the invaders. As the game progresses, you meet more Generals, rivals, and the embodiment of Chaos. You also find the sword “Warsong,” which is supposed to be the sword of light.
It is standard up to this point. Some of the relationships between your characters are explored during each mission’s opening and closing cutscenes. However, characters aren’t well developed beyond loyalty to your kingdom or liking your character.
There is a mentor figure in the game as well. This character dies in the first half of the game, and I think it was supposed to be a bigger moment than it was. I didn’t know the character well, so I didn’t care all that much aside from losing a strong character.
The ending is where things take a turn. You beat the big bad guy who is Chaos. In defeat, the Choas tells you that you have upset the balance of things because Order needs Chaos. This leaves your character wondering if he has done the right thing.
I liked this ending a lot! The rest of the game is fine, but the ending was very good. I wish it were in a better game.
The gameplay in Warsong is hard for me to describe. Not because I don’t know what games it plays like, but because the mechanics behind it are confusing. The whole battle system feels random, like it changes the rules on a whim to mess with the player.
When I started, I played the game like Advance Wars. This didn’t work out because it is an RPG, and your Generals will either slaughter the cannon fodder or will be overwhelmed by it. I was looking for some kind of weapons triangle. I don’t think one exists in this game.
As far as I can tell, here is a list of maybes:
- Archers beats Cavalry (Sometimes)
- Cavalry beats Spearman (Sometimes)
- Spearman beats Archers (Sometimes)
- Water-based beat Land-based units when in the water (Sometimes)
- Guardsmen beat monsters (Sometimes, but not General Monsters (Maybe))
- Guardsmen are weak to other Land-based units (Kind of)
- Spellcaster Generals are weak against Archers (Sometimes)
So, I looked at the terrain on the maps. Some types of terrain offer defense bonuses to your units. This worked to some extent until the game decides to change things up. It seemed like Spearmen could beat anything when they were on a wall, but then the game would switch things up. Terrain type matters until the game doesn’t want it to matter.
Fighting on the water was a strange experience. Most water-based units would easily beat land-based units when fighting on the water. Things would get random when you would fight water-based units on land.
Before each battle, you can deploy your units, equip items, and recruit soldiers. The type of soldiers you can recruit depends on that General’s class. As a General moves up the class tree, they can recruit different, and sometimes better, units.
Let’s talk about levels real quick. The way levels work in Warsong is similar to Fire Emblem. When a character reaches level 10, they can be promoted to a better class. A small class tree also offers the player some customization and experimentation.
Each class unlocks different units a General can recruit. These units (Archers, Spearmen, Cavalry, etc.) essentially act as cannon fodder. They matter at times, but in some cases, they get in the way.
When your General levels up, the cannon fodder they recruited also levels up. When your cannon fodder defeats an enemy, the General gets the experience. This was something I liked a lot!
You need to give all of your cannon fodder orders before you end your turn! If you don’t do this, they will move into vulnerable positions. Their AI is awful. However, if you don’t give orders to the generals, they will stay where they are.
Warsong seems to change its rules whenever it feels like it. It was like being on a roller coaster that I wanted to like. Things would change as soon as I thought I knew what to do.
There are twenty chapters in Warsong. Most of them have clear goals:
- Eliminate the Enemy Commander
- Last X turns
- Save a specific character
I want to talk about the Escape missions. Those are the only missions where the end goal is unclear. You’re told to escape or reach a location. However, the place you need to reach is often unclear. This is a serious problem with the first mission!
You’re told to escape the castle. However, the game never tells you where you’re supposed to go. This can lead you to restart the game several times as you fumble around, figuring out where to go. This is the only place where I had to look up a guide. In case you were wondering, it is the upper left corner of the map.
Like Fire Emblem, if you have a General die, they stay dead. This was my major issue as I was trying to keep all of them alive. It got increasingly frustrating as their strengths and weaknesses seemed to change every turn.
Overall, I think the gameplay is flawed but still good. This version of Warsong is difficult, but it is fun. It was like trying to solve a puzzle that kept evolving.
Warsong is a nice-looking game. The pixel art looks great, but I wish the game had more cutscenes. This is the only fault I have with this part of the game.
The sprites aren’t well-detailed, but they look good. It could’ve looked better if this game had been released on the SNES. The PC Engine version of the game would be interesting to check out.
The lack of cutscenes is disappointing. While other games from this time, released in 1991, used similar cutscenes, Warsong’s cutscenes weren’t anything special.
Aside from the cutscenes, I like how the game looks. The battle animations remind me of Advance Wars. The Generals have their own attacks, which helps to show how much stronger they are.
I wish there were more detail in the character sprites, especially when you promote a General. The cannon fodder each looks different, but your Generals don’t change much when you promote them.
Overall, I like the way the game looks. The pixel art looks great, and the animations are good. The terrain also looks great, and when you’re fighting on a wall, it changes the way some units attack. It is a nice-looking game.
7.5/10. I like the graphics and the story, but the gameplay is where the game falls apart for me. The combat triangles are confusing, and the troops you can recruit feel like cannon fodder.
- Good graphics
- Good story
- Bad/Boring Cutscenes
- Vague goals
- Confusing combat system
Warsong is a frustrating game to play. I liked it most of the time. Some missions were vague, and I wish they had been reworked.
There were no tutorials in games from this time. They were usually in the manual, which I don’t have. I wonder if the remaster/remake on the PS4 and Switch has one.
It isn’t a bad game but a very hard one. The gameplay seemed fine initially, but the combat system needed to be explained. I think the modern version of the game, or the other games in the series, has tutorial systems.