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Up from (Super) Obscurity

In her review of the SNES action-RPG Lagoon retro gaming bigwig FlyingOmelette said "if you've heard anything about Lagoon, chances are, this is what you've heard: Your sword has a ridiculously short range."
That is certainly true, and to my mind, it's enough reason to leave this Legend of Mana-wanna-be on the shelf.
I don't usually brag about my video gaming prowess, but thanks to my impatience with JRPGs (J-action-RPGs?) in general, and pretentious or barely-interactive "intro" sequences specifically, I'd already found a half-dozen good reasons to give up on this game before you even find a sword*
*: or if you're less charitable, before the game's introductory animation is even completed. Incidentally, it's probably wise to take this article with a grain of salt, given my bad taste in video games
Let's look at the first several reasons to keep Lagoon gathering dust with your copy of, say, Breath of Fire II:
Issue 1 -- The Intro cut-scene...
...which manages to have no dialog, yet still be confusing, cliched and nonsensical.
Because of the cut-scene's silence, I'll have to caption these images myself:
"...the other kings said I was daft to build a castle in a swamp!"
(There's a great game of tennis going on behind the cameraman)
"I'm not sure why you panned over to me, I'm just watching purple-iris-boy's eyes roll around in his head."
Even by video game princess standards, she's kind of inert.
"Is that someone in a brown robe behind me, or is it a cliff or something? Also, please appreciate my giant dangly ear-rings."
"For some reason, black-and-white 3-D movies have never worked for me."
"The tennis match is over."
"Um, if this is the castle from the first picture, aren't we standing in water right now?"
"I know holding my weapon sideways is horribly counter-productive, but it looks so 'gangster'!"
After that, the gem in your sword-hilt flashes brightly, bringing up the title screen.
Actually, maybe THAT'S why your character has such horrible reach with his sword: he has to keep it within a few inches of his torso, or else it will reset the game to the title screen!
Issue 2 -- your Mentor:
The following image may disturb you.
Yes, that wizened face, with its disturbing cud-chewing "talking" animation, belongs to your mentor/benefactor/parent-guardian in the world of Lagoon.
As much as the "standard Anime face" look bothers me, this hideous oaf is worse. They've combined a fuzzy-coat-and-Confederate-soldier-cap with ears that would make a luna moth blush and eyebrows you could use for hang-gliders.
Top it all off with a pair of misaligned crossed eyes, and you've got the portrait of a dottering simpleton. Why, the next thing you know, he'll start writing extended mockeries of twenty-year-old games that everyone else has (quite sensibly) forgotten about!
Issue 3 -- your heroic first journey:
So, your first challenge in Lagoon involves pressing a button on the controller when the title screen comes up. Having achieved that Herculean effort, Crazy Confederate Luna-Moth-Eared Cud-Chewing Man holds forth on your seminal mission into the world of Lagoon. Let's listen!
YESIR!
...hopefully my destiny will involve smacking whoever thought the lower-case "f" should be drawn that way, it's incredibly distracting.
NOOOO, NOT WATER BECOMING MUDDY!
So...uh, that's it then?
No prophecy? No village being razed? The character's parents haven't even been killed, for cryin' out loud.
No indeed, my mission (if I choose to accept it -- and let's face it, the alternative probably involves sitting around in the company of that terrifying bear-hide-wrapped octogenarian), is to see what's been churning up the silt in Lakeland. Not since the powerful Saturday Night Live skit, "Something Smells Good in Stinktown," has such a tragedy befallen an ironically-named town.
While this senile Russian Confederate Yoda guy thinks it's a sign of something evil, it seems like it could just be a backed up septic tank. Though if that's true, I guess his description is relatively astute.
Well, as they always say, "end on a high note"
It turns out I took up all my writing time just griping about the pre-game sequence. So I'll have to wait until NEXT week to explain how there's plenty of turn-off-the-game factor to Lagoon before you even buy your first butter knife of a sword.
So I'll sign off this week with what appears to be a barking pig!
...continued in Part 2!
— carlmarksguy, 2013-06-14
1
Fun Fact: The hero of this game seems to have been named after the programmer of Final Fantasy.
2
Neato! I re-read your 'Lagoon' review and it seems you have the kind of measured, semi-irrational affection for the game that I have for plenty of not-so-great but odd games (GunForce, Legend, Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball, etc), so I guess these articles'll be a little harsh. But Part 2 will document the point where I really did almost give up before getting a sword (and also some things I could find to rag on, to add padding..its not easy doing one of these a week!)
3
I'm actually afraid to read any of my old reviews that are written in the "crappagory" format. I've beaten Lagoon at least twice, and what mainly sticks with me is that the music is the best thing about it.
4
I think the review is pretty good, it makes me wish I'd the patience to see some of the later things you describe. & I definitely see your point (that I'll summarize as): since so much of the appearance is bland, any unexpected detail stands out, and many of those unexpected details are weird.
5
I think that was pretty close to what my thesis for that review was, so even if it is crappy by my modern standards, at least I somehow managed to communicate it. Another game I had almost that same thesis for was Kid Niki, which is actually one of my better reviews.
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