Lagoon - Noun, a French thug. This is an excerpt from Freak the Mighty's personal dictionary, and although it has nothing to do with this game, Freak the Mighty was a good book that I have to recommend to all readers of this review (Incidentally, the character Laguna from FF8 is named after the Spanish word for lagoon). Lagoon, on the other hand, was not a good game, and I ask you to stay away from it like the plague. First, I suggest you read this review.
In the far off world of Lakeland, all was peaceful. The royal family was wise, kind, and just, and the gods were polite enough to mind their own business when it came to human affairs. However, an evil spirit came and gained influence over the land, destroying countless lives and putting the survivors into a state of terror. The gods felt sorry for the humans, and came down to give the evil ones a good licking using the mighty Moon Blade.
This was only a temporary fix, however, and the gods prepared a more permanent solution. Two children were brought to Earth who were the embodiments of good and evil, and they were given to a wise sage named Mathias. By being raised together, the gods hoped that they would become equals, leaving the earth peaceful and providing them with an undisturbed period of time to play a round of celestial foosball.
This indoor miniature soccer game's fate was in the balance however, as well as that of Lakeland, for the twisted mage Zerah kidnapped the evil child so that he could raise him to despise light and destroy it someday, bringing chaos to all. Mathias had no choice but to raise Nasir to eventually face this foe and to teach him the values of good.
After 14 years, another evil spirit came to Lakeland, and like his previously mentioned brother, he cursed the water supply bringing famine and disease across the world. Mathias now must send Nasir out into the cold, cruel world with the hope that Nasir shall save it. The journey begins at home...
Gameplay in Lagoon is much like that in Secret of Mana, but the fun factor is gone. You still walk around chopping up enemies, but you only get one weapon. Using your ridiculously small pointed object, you must traverse the land in search of those in need, but much of the game is spent exploring the vast dungeons. Jumping is included, but with the blessing of jumping comes the curse of bottomless pits, and these are given to you quite freely.
The enemies are somewhat varied, but most of them merely charge at you or fire projectiles. Experience and gold are gained the classic way by slashing at whatever you see. The magic system involves combining rods and elemental jewels, and each combination lets you use a different spell, but there are only four of each type, giving you sixteen similar spells in all by the end of the game.
Towns contain shops where you can spend your hard earned cash on a disappointing selection of weapons and items, but many things are expensive enough to leave you hunting monsters for a long time. Equipment includes swords, shields, armor, and rings, which slowly drain your MP while granting various bonuses like super strength, invincibility, and so on. These rings have no power against bosses though (Thank you very much, programmers), and magic is similarly disabled for the sadistically hard boss fights. Although it wasn't anything great, the Gameplay of Lagoon wasn't that bad, earning itself a pretty little 85%.
The graphics were decent for the time. The characters are all low quality sprites, with very few motions available. Enemies used very little palette swapping but weren't very original or interesting for that matter (The bosses were pretty nice though). The backgrounds were rather bland, including your standard caves, castles, clouds and so on, but they were weakened even more so by the dull colors.
Special effects included your standard fireballs and lightning blasts, but some of the later spells summoned some visually powerful dragons to assist you. There weren't any real problems here that couldn't be ignored, but there were no strengths that require mentioning either. Graphics get a 73%, but I doubt it could've been helped.
The game was very unreliable when it came to music. Some songs were far above average, rich and deep with feeling, but others were shallow and empty, nothing more than auditory shells produced from the industry's cookie cutter.
The sounds lacked that imbalance, providing evenly cheap sound effects throughout the entire game. Explosions and grunts abound, but it's hard to find early SNES games that can compete with the more modern systems. This imperfect balance gives Lagoon's Sound/Music an 82%.
The story of Lagoon is used far too much. A member of the royal family has the key to destroying the world, so she gets kidnapped. You have to save her, find out your destiny, and destroy your arch nemesis that also happens to be your brother. How nice. To help disguise this fact, Lagoon's makers have provided you with a multitude of events throughout the game to take your eyes off the main story. These usually involve nothing more than finding an item that's guarded by a boss, but what game doesn't have that? Dialogue is empty of emotion for the most part, but that's a common problem in old games. Storyline gets a 70%.
The controls in Lagoon weren't bad due to being unresponsive. They weren't bad for being confusing either. They were bad for the simple reason that I will now mention. Your sword is very, very short. Timing your attacks against a quickly charging enemy takes practice to master, while your sword simply passes through an enemy's body on occasion, leaving you open for a knock-you-into-a-pit-and-kill-you type of attack.
Bosses are even worse, forcing you to repeatedly test the safe distance between you being able to hit him and you actually touching him. If you can beat the giant porcupine of death in the volcano in fewer than thirty tries, I salute you. Fortunately, you can save at almost any point in the game, and this gives you almost no reason to fear the reaper. Control gets a 66% due to this one glaring error, so please be prepared for some technical difficulties.
Lagoon is a mixture of a hackneyed plot, cheesy sounds and visuals, very little fun, and a severe need for Cloud's Buster Sword, which gave humongous weapons the fine image that they have today. Freak the Mighty, on the other hand, is a well-written story of a hulking oaf who teams up with a maniacal midget genius to bring joy and excitement to the world. It tackles the issues of the drudgery of everyday life and even shares some pearls of philosophical wisdom on death, while still being a comical joy to read. If you have a wad of cash, guess which product I'd suggest you buy. FtM gets an 87% Overall, while Lagoon gets a meager 73%.
Gameplay - Chop, chop, chopping your way to world peace... 85%
Graphics - I liked the cover art for FtM much more than any scene in this game. 73%
Sound/Music - It rose and fell in/quality like all the sea's/endless marching tides. (This haiku is called "Altered Echoes of Lagoon" 82%
Storyline - "Waterworld" meets "Willow". 70%
Control - Don't make me poke you! 66%
Overall - I think FtM has a sequel, too. Anyone know for sure? 73%