Satoshi Urushihara created some of the Langrisser series’ most iconic designs over two decades ago, when the series was first getting started. He recently had the chance to talk about the remake art by Ar Tonelico artist Ryo Nagi, as well as reminiscence about working on the originals, in an interview with Famitsu.
Here are the highlights:
Famitsu: What did you think of the fact that Langrisser was getting a remake 27 years later?
Satoshi Urushihara, character designer: “When I first heard about it, I was really shocked. To have fans that would stick with the series for 27 years, this series must be really blessed, I thought. Personally, I picture it as work that was completed long ago. (laughs) I’m really grateful and happy I can listen to the players talk about it in this day and age.
While the series was being developed, we did talk about changing character designers. That’s because as a series goes on, it runs the risk of becoming rote and predictable, so if we could find the right timing to change character designers, then it feel more fresh that way.”
Famitsu: Was that something you suggested?
Urushihara: “That’s right. If I had to go into detail, by the time III was done, I felt I had done everything I could with my designs. The first game was spent testing the waters, II kept the character colors from the first game while using design elements I didn’t use in the original, and for III I designed everything as I wanted to. For III, I had a hand in suggesting several of the designs, so it did feel like I’d pulled out all the stops. I thought that if we were to develop IV, I wouldn’t have anything left to fulfill. That was a troubled period of development, where I wondered if my designs would become insipid if I went on like this.”
Famitsu: What do you think after seeing the new designs?
Urushihara: “When I first saw the designs, I felt happy that they kept the colors used in the original Langrisser designs. That said, I also do feel a bit that I wanted to see Ryo Nagi’s own take on Langrisser designs. Compared to when the game was first in development, there is already a created scenario and world, and the sort of image people glean from that differs from person to person. If other artists were to design the characters, what sort of image and what sort of art would they create…? I can’t help but be curious about what it would look like, especially in Nagi-san’s case because they are very good.”
Famitsu: Did you have any trouble coming up with new character Betty’s design?
Urushihara: “Regarding Betty, because the development staff and I discussed the design beforehand, I didn’t have much trouble coming up with the design. While in the original game, it was pretty much an anything-goes situation, this time from the start we discussed that we’d go with a leotard-esque outfit, that the cape wouldn’t be too long, she’d wear smaller pieces of armor, etc. down to the finer points. However, I did have some trouble regarding how close her design should be to the original game’s art – both straying too far and going too close would be bad.”
Famitsu: Tell us more about what it was like working on the original game. As that was your first game-related job, did you have any troubles?
Urushihara: “It’s true that I had a set amount of designs I needed to create, but I’d also say that that was about it, and there weren’t really any major troubles. The staff then were really nice to me, and basically let me do whatever I want. There weren’t really any retakes. When I handed out the rough layout, they’d say, “Got it. Let’s go with this.” Everything, including the coloring of the entire game, was free for me to create.”
Famitsu: Looking back at the original version of the designs, the armor is definitely quite striking.
Urushihara: “There are a lot of asymmetrical armors, and that has become characteristic of the series. That was mainly done because drawing symmetrically was really troublesome, but lots of problems would crop up later on thanks to that. While those designs are fine for one piece of art, it got even more troublesome when it came to the package art, copyright art, and the anime segments of Langrisser III. (laughs) In fact, I’d probably say that was the most troubling part of designing for Langrisser.”
Famitsu: Apart from the game, even the environment where illustrations are drawn has changed quite a bit since then. Are there any thoughts you’d like to share on that note?
Urushihara: “When Langrisser was in development, every piece of art was done by cel. Nowadays, digital has become the norm, and because you can redraw a piece of art as much as you want, while you can create art that is more detailed and refined, on the other hand your art will naturally become more “rounded”. I can’t say which one is better, but I think cel art has a unique impact that comes from giving it your all because it can’t be changed later on. That’s why when I took upon the job this time, I feared that players of the original game might say something like, “No, this is wrong.”
Famitsu: Please share a message with the fans.
Urushihara: “With refreshed character designs, and more detailed graphics, Langrisser I & II has become a game that even people who didn’t play the original can enjoy. I hope that more people will become fans of the series with this opportunity. As somebody who had to do with the founding of the series, if this marks the start of the next generation of Langrisser, that would make me really happy.”
Langrisser I & II releases for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in Japan on February 7, 2019.