Nippon Computer System Co., Ltd (Masaya)

Nippon Computer System Co., Ltd were a Japanese software and development studio who were established on the 25th of December 1980. According to their official archive site they were initially concerned with developing embedded systems. In 1985 the company changed focus and began developing computer software and to distribute it the company launched their own in-house label called Masaya to publish their software. In 1998 Nippon Computer Systems ceased all development of video game software citing a business risk to the company.

I’m not particularly familiar with Nippon Computer System themselves i was aware of some of their subsidiary company Masaya’s titles. The main series that Masaya was known for was the well-respected  ラングリッサー  better known in the west as the Langrisser franchise.

Langrisser is a long running series of titles the first of which was released for the Sega Megadrive. The franchise was arguably the most successful in the 32bit era with multiple entries on the Japanese PlayStation. But the spiritual home of the series was undoubtedly on the Sega Saturn with saw all five instalments released for it.  Unsurprisingly anticipation for a new exclusive entry in the Langrisser franchise on Sega’s upcoming Dreamcast system was high. Below is a report from Gamespot Japan about the games announcement for the Dreamcast. Copyright (c) 1999 by Softbank Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

https://web.archive.org/web/20001214102300/http://www.zdnet.co.jp:80/gamespot/news/9906/01/news05.html

Nippon Computer Systems through their subsidiary label Masaya published one title for the Dreamcast. ラングリッサーミレニアム or Langrisser Millennium was released on the 3rd of November 1999 and retailed for ¥5,800. It holds the unique distinction of being the last home console release by the company before they stopped development and publishing game software. The games official dricas site has been archived and i’ve linked to it below where you can get a basic overview about Langrisser Millennium. (c) 2000 SEGA

http://web.archive.org/web/20000123153148/http://www.dricas.ne.jp:80/game/lang/lang.html

While very much anticipated Langrisser Millennium was a divisive release. There are a number of factors that cause the game to be generally derided by the Langrisser fanbase. Traditionally the Langrisser games were known as a respected tactical role-playing series the Dreamcast instalment in the franchise changed genres and was a real-time strategy title.

The main concern for series fans was the change in the development team responsible for the Dreamcast entry in the series. All the previous titles in the series were developed by the then Masaya in-house development team Career Soft which had no involvement in the development of Langrisser Millennium having moved to Atlus to work on the Growlanser series of games which are thought to be spiritual successors to the core Langrisser franchise.

Without Career Soft to continue working on the franchise Masaya outsourced development duties to the unknown development studio Santa Entertainment.Inc to develop the next generation Langrisser title. Santa Entertainment were established in 1997 and had one PlayStation title to their credit. 鋼仁戦記 or Go-Jin Senki was their only published title before Langrisser Millennium. I’m not sure how they managed to develop such a important entry in a prestigious series like Langrisser. Santa Entertainment keep a catalogue of their developed works and i’ll link the the Langrisser Millennium entry. Copyright © 株式会社サンタエンタテイメント All Rights Reserved.

http://www.santa-ent.co.jp/business/game/

The other major change to the Langrisser formula which seemed to upset long time series fans the most was the change in the character design artist. Up until then the series character artist was the renowned Satoshi Urushihara who continued with Career Soft so a new artist named Intercourse was brought in to design the games artwork. Below is the official Langrisser Millennium software data entry for the game where your able to see some basic information and technical specifications for the title. Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

http://web.archive.org/web/20010616071635fw_/http://lang-m.dricas.ne.jp:80/h_sfdata.html

Generally, it’s fair to say the anticipation of long time Langrisser stalwarts wouldn’t be met with Langrisser Millennium. I’ve never played any game in the series before so some of the major issues that upset those fans wouldn’t be a hindrance for me and i just experienced the game in isolation whithout any expectations. While the real-time strategy genre has evolved significantly over the intervening years and the game certainly does have its faults overall i enjoyed Langrisser Millennium own its own merits.

Langrisser Millennium is a 3D real time action strategy game that starts with you picking one of five main characters each a ruler from they’re corresponding kingdoms Salem, Misla, Fenraw, Chin & Viedern. Each of these characters has different motivations and some are stereotypically good and some made out to be villainous. Once you’ve picked your ruler you’re soon looking at your starting position on the games 3D world map. Initially you start with just a couple of castles adjacent to your capital city but you can soon expand by conquering neighbouring cities. Below are the five playable rulers you can choose from at the start of the game.

Below is a look at the five different rulers you can chose from at the start of the game.

Taji Asagaraf ruler of Salem Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

Taji Asagaraf ruler of Salem Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

Rumatie Murph leader of Misla Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

Rumatie Murph leader of Misla Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

Masaripa leader of Fenraw Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

Masaripa leader of Fenraw Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

Nei Rison leader of Chin Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

Nei Rison leader of Chin Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

Sariyun Dell Viedern leader of Viedern Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

Sariyun Dell Viedern leader of Viedern Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

 

At the same time as you’re launching your bid for conquest the other AI controlled players are doing likewise. Once you’ve gained control of a city you have various options you can search it for items which take time leave a garrison to defend it from attack or deploy troops to defend against incoming invaders.

The actual combat itself is probably Langrisser Millennium’s weakest element and this stems from design choices the developers made and its general implementation in the game. You enter the battle as a party of four with your chosen leader and three subordinates you can pick the different type of formation you’d like to use to best counter the positioning of your opponent. The battle is over once you defeat your rival’s leader or your leader is defeated so a fair amount of planning is needed especially for the later battles.

In the battle you only actually control your partie’s leader but you can issue commands to your subordinates these are Attack, Defend & Retreat. You also have Technics which is essentially Langrisser Millenniums version of magic which has a wide variety of different effects from area damage, reviving health & character specific attacks. While this sounds in theory to be a competent battle system the AI path finding that your troops use is quite lacklustre and the different formations don’t really work as well as you could tell the developers wanted them to. The battle engine runs slower than you’d expect but you can soon get used to it and it doesn’t seem to be the game engine but rather a design choice by Santa Entertainment perhaps to ensure you can implement commands to your troops. Below i’ve linked to the games archived official site which well give you much more information on the games characters, system mechanics & story. Copyright (C) 1999 NCS/SANTAキャラクターデザイン:介錯

http://web.archive.org/web/20010405215952/http://lang-m.dricas.ne.jp:80/first.html

Santa Entertainment ensured that Langrisser Millennium had plenty of content during the game there is a massive amount of hidden and unlockable items and troops to find. The game has over a hundred different characters some of which can be recruited from battles and events & some must be unlocked by for filling certain requirements. It’s also possible for your enemies to recruit your troops so it’s a balancing act to keep up to date on your various armies status especially once you’ve conquered large portions of the map.

Graphically the games character portraits are quite well done and the change to a different artist obviously didn’t affect me as i’d never experienced any other games in the Langrisser series so couldn’t make a direct comparison between them. Judged in the present there perfectly fine some of the actual designs i don’t care for but overall theres nothing wrong with them.  I was more concerned with how the in-game graphics would look it’s nearly twenty years since i actively played Langrisser Millennium and i thought it was going to date badly with angular protagonists.

Thankfully on revisiting the title the graphics were much better than i was expecting. The 3D overworld map looks fine and the in-game models are decent  the proportions are a bit ridiculous on some but that’s a stylistic choice rather  than the 3D modelling the game uses.

Backgrounds are greatly varied with some quite bland verses some quite detailed environments. You’ll find the traditional assortment of snow, desert & ancient ruins stages. But the Langrisser Millennium does also have a wide variety of unusual battlegrounds. Some of the stages reflect the topography of the over-world map while others completely ignore it.

The games audio is equally holds up just as well as the games graphical presentation. The game has a theme song for the ending sung by a Japanese pop duo called Pigeon which i’m completely unfamiliar with. This was available as a single and seems to be highly rated i thought it was decent enough but personally wouldn’t recommend tracking it down. The game characters are all fully voiced and suit their respective characters pretty well. The sound effects are loud and clear.

The games music is definitely upbeat and is quite different to the usual traditional soundtracks of this genre. I thought it suited the game well but i assume its quite different in it’s composition and style to the previous releases in the series.

Overall Langrisser Millennium is a decent real-time strategy title on the Dreamcast considering its age. Maybe anathema to many of the series seasoned fans luckily i was unburdened by the history of the franchise and experienced the game in isolation. The game is nowhere near perfect especially compared with current titles in the genre but this is nearly a twenty-year-old game if you can live with the simplified battle system you can still find plenty of enjoyment from playing the game.

 

T-2501M Langrisser Millennium

 

Front

 

T-2501M Langrisser Millennium front

T-2501M Langrisser Millennium front

Back

T-2501M Langrisser Millennium back

T-2501M Langrisser Millennium back

 

SAMPLE covers

 

SAMPLE T-2501M Langrisser Millennium

Unfortunatly i’m still waiting to upload. Also, i’m looking for the first version released for the game. Please contact me if you can help!

 

Langrisser Millennium: The Last Century

 

Langrisser Millennium: The Last Century has the distinction of being both the last title in the Millennium series and the final game from Nippon Computer System themselves. The game was released for Bandai’s Wonderswan handheld console. I know next to nothing about the title as i don’t personally own it. What little i do know about the game is that it reverted back to the traditional turn based strategy formula of the previous Langrisser titles. Nippon Computer System’s archived site for their Wonderswan entry in the Langrisser series is navigable and i’ll link to it below so you can find information about the games story, characters & systems

http://web.archive.org/web/20010405215952/http://lang-m.dricas.ne.jp:80/first.html

 

(NOT FOR SALE) 非売品 discs & other media

 

I don’t have any individual 非売品 disc for Langrisser Millennium and i’m not sure what content will exist for the game if any on the Dreamcast Express or Dream Preview discs. I’ll update this section once i’ve archived those discs and catalogued their contents.

LANGRISSER MILLENNIUM does have a number of different types of media released to support it. The first i’ll cover is the three official books relating to game. The first guide book is one that i own and it is ラングリッサー ミレニアム最強攻略ガイド or Langrisser Millennium Strongest Guide book.

Langrisser Millennium Strongest Capture Guide front

Langrisser Millennium Strongest Capture Guide front

Back

Langrisser Millennium Strongest Capture Guide back

Langrisser Millennium Strongest Capture Guide back

It was published by Shogakukan Inc on the 1st of January 2000 and it retailed for ¥1,200. Its ISBN catalogue codes are ISBN-10: 4091028233 & ISBN-13: 9784091028235.

The next guidebook is ラングリッサー・ミレニアム・ザ・エピックス―神剣士之書 (ドリームキャスト必勝法スペシャル) or Langrisser Millennium Dreamcast victory method special.

LANGRISSER MILLENNIUM ザ・エピックス―神剣士之書 (ドリームキャスト必勝法スペシャル)

LANGRISSER MILLENNIUM ザ・エピックス―神剣士之書 (ドリームキャスト必勝法スペシャル)

It was published by Keibunsha books in December 1999 and retailed for ¥1,400. Its ISBN catalogue codes are ISBN-10: 4766933869 & ISBN-13 9784766933864.

Lastly is LANGRISSER MILLENNIUM 設定解説ファンブック (ナビブックシリーズ―ゲームファンブック) or Langrisser Millennium Explanation Fan Book.

Langrisser Millennium Art book

LANGRISSER MILLENNIUM 設定解説ファンブック (ナビブックシリーズ―ゲームファンブック)

Published by Locus in March 2000. Its ISBN catalogue codes are ISBN-10: 4898141064 & ISBN-13: 978-4898141069.

 

To promote the upcoming game the girl group Pigeon released a single that was used in the game called Save me it was published by NEC Interchannel on the 22nd of October 1999 and retailed for ¥1,050.

Pigeon/Save Me (c) 1999 Nec Interchannel

Pigeon/Save Me (c) 1999 Nec Interchannel

This CD has four tracks two original tracks and two karaoke versions of the songs featured in the game. Its catalog code is NEDA 10011.

Finally, as you’d expect Langrisser Millennium had an official soundtrack entitled Langrisser Millennium Sound File released for the game.

Langrisser Millennium Sound File (c) 1999 NEC Interchannel

Langrisser Millennium Sound File (c) 1999 NEC Interchannel

It was again published by NEC Interchannel on the 22nd of October 1999 and it retailed for ¥3,900. It has 57 tracks on two cd’s and its catalog code is NECA-30012-13.

Langrisser Millennium also had a trading card series based on the characters and world of Millennium. The full title is Langrisser trading card game part 2 Millennium Empire.

Front

Masaripa trading card front

Masaripa trading card front

Back

Langrisser Millennium trading card back

Langrisser Millennium trading card back

There is an advert promoting the trading card game included with every copy of the game and i believe Langrisser Millennium on the Dreamcast came with a trading card. The trading card seems to be the same in every copy of Langrisser Millennium and its of one of the main characters Masaripa which i’ve included above.

I’m aware i’m still missing items and information relating to Langrisser Millennium if anyone can help i’d appreciate it.

Thank you for taking the time to read this entry on Langrisser Millennium any comments or help with the first edition sample cover please get in contact either through the site or on Twitter @dreamcastcollector

 

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