Lagoon was a game that I never owned growing up – but a friend of mine did, so I traded games! I remember my friend’s older brother tells me that Lagoon was awesome compared to The Legend of Zelda. At that time I was quite impressed with the statement, but soon learned that Lagoon cannot hold a candle to The Legend of Zelda. Having said that – Lagoon has a nice sense of mystery and exploration, and brought my brother and I hours of entertainment growing up.
The game takes place in the country called Lakeland and has a very generic story. You play as Nasir – the Champion of Light. Water in your homeland has gotten dirty, so you set off on a quest to clean the water. Along the way you learn about Zerah an evil sorcerer who’s ultimate plan it to release the evil spirit and take over the world! Overall, the story was pretty bland.
In terms of gameplay, the game is an action RPG with a top-down view similar to Zelda. You guide Nasir through many different towns and dungeons battling monsters and killing bosses! There are RPG mechanics such as gaining experience (and levelling up) which increases you stats. Your primary attack is your sword – but unfortunately I found sword-play lacklustre as your sword is only a few pixels long which makes it very difficult to make contact successfully with enemies without injuring yourself. Players need to literally be right next enemies in order to make contact.
Despite the lacklustre sword fighting – there are actually a lot of items to find in the game that significantly improve your states and which make venturing into the dungeons fun and worthwhile (see below for list of equipment).
The game also has significant magic abilities which are much more fun to utilize compared to the sword. The game allows players to combine 4 differnet crystals and staffs to create unique magic attacks! These made engaging enemies much more enjoyable. MP points also naturally regenerate (albeit a bit slow) so you will generally always be able to save up MP points if you need them.
Each area has a major boss fight and I found these the least enjoyable part of the game because they often required level-grinding because of a significant need for HP as getting close enough to the boss to attack often left you getting hit yourself. With perseverance and a little luck, bosses are able to be defeated.
In terms of graphics, the game looks like a very early SNES game (because it was and released in 1990). The game is very generic-looking and bland (characters models, enemies, and special effects), but still added some unique ideas such as having your armour visually change with different types of items equipped (a first as far as I can tell in the SNES libarary)! One major gripe I have with the graphics is that the dungeons looked so generic and similar (same hallways and door-types within the same dungeon) that I often found myself getting lost (similar to how people might get lost in the original Metroid). The outdoor environments were much more enjoyable and graphically pleasing.
Music was one of the areas that really excelled in this game. The intro music to the game is so memorable, in addition to many other songs. The sounds effects are less memorable but get the job done!
In summary, Lagoon is a bland action-RPG that was unique at the time of release but has not held up well over time. While the game is playable, gameplay is lacklustre because of poor sword-play and bland graphics (which make the dungeons hard to navigate). The game has some stellar parts including a moody and awesome soundtrack and a cool magic system that provided some unique flexibility to dispatching enemies. Overall, I give this game a 6/10.
Final Score: 6/10