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Video Game / Bahamut Lagoon

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Bahamut, looking good on the cover.

An early Strategy RPG made by Squaresoft (now Square Enix) for Super Famicom and released only in Japan in 1996.

The game is set in the sky world of Orelus, and follows Heroic Mime Byuu as he leads the The Resistance against the Granvelos Empire. Along the way, he rescues his childhood sweetheart, Princess Yoyo. The princess, a descendant of the legendary Dragnar, has the ability to communicate with the Divine Dragons and use their powers in battle. The heroes attempt to collect their power to use against the empire, while Emperor Sauthar attempts to gather them for himself. Their battle against the Empire and the greater threat it unleashes range all across the sky and even into the world of origin for the dragons themselves. And Yoyo's experiences with the Empire weren't all negative...

Bahamut Lagoon is notable for having very pretty graphics, being one of the last Squaresoft games to be released for the Super Nintendo. It's also notable for having quite explicit sexual content (though primarily in dialogue) and an openly gay (if very stereotyped) old warlock as one of its main characters.

The game includes much of the Final Fantasy feel and characteristics, including spell names and the names of the dragons: Bahamut, Alexander, Leviathan, and Garuda, to name a few. It directly influenced Final Fantasy X: the plot structures and several key characters of the two games are very similar.

Two fan translations for the game were made over the years. the first one one was done by DeJap in collaboration with Tomato and Neill, and was released on June 16, 2002. The second was made by retired emulator developer Near, taking advantage of technological advancements made since the 2002 translation (including tools that Near themselves developed), and released on February 9th, 2021 to commemorate the game's 25th anniversary; it would mark Near's final project before their death the following June.

Compare Treasure of the Rudra and Live A Live, two similar Japan-only games released by SquareSoft near the end of their SNES era.

This game contains examples of:

  • Abduction Is Love: Palpaleos was amongst the Imperials that kidnap Princess Yoyo, and then they fall in love, since he was nice to her.
  • Aerith and Bob: There's Jeanne, Joy, Diana, Anastasia and Frederika, which is rather uncommon but actual names...and then there's Bikkebakke, Nelbo, and Yoyo, which nearly no man would name their child...
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Fahrenheit's main function besides being an HQ, just replace Aircraft with Dragons.
  • Another Dimension: Altair, which can be accessed through an opened rift in the sky.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The number of units allowed on the field is determined by how many dragons are under your control, with four humans being assigned to each dragon.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Don't expect your dragons to differentiate between a switch and normal floor. Even if that switch will trigger a trapdoor that instantly kills four of your characters.
    • The enemy falls victim to this as well—they will always attack the unit that's dealt the most damage to them, even if that unit happens to be invincible or if there's a helpless healing party not too far from it. It also has a compulsion to always attack a single character, never next to a character, so you can easily exploit that to prevent splash damage.
    • Ranging out mages whose AI dictates they use field attacks is also made trivial for much the same reason as listed above. Enemy mages will never take into account the range bands of their spells, and will only make an attempt to cast a spell on a party if they can get the cursor dead-center on the character. This means you can safely have mages occupy the area just outside of a mage's blast radius and run in on the subsequent turn to get your spells off first.
  • Assassin Outclassin': When you recruit Sajin and Zeroshin into your army, they also give you a free assassination as a bonus. You can choose the target to be either the Rebellious Princess, a Mighty Glacier or a Red Shirt. No prizes for guessing which target is the only one they actually succeed in killing.
  • Back from the Brink: Set to liberate all of the Orelus years after it was completely conquered by The Empire.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The game ends with Palpaleos apparently dead, and Byuu wandering the sky alone.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Unlucky Childhood Friend variant. Byuu and Yoyo were childhood friends and there is romantic subtext between them. However, by the time the Resistence rescue Yoyo from the Empire, she had already fallen in love with General Palpaleos.
  • Cognizant Limbs: The Final Boss, Alexander, is a four-headed dragon. Sadly, the engine doesn't handle it nearly as well as it could have.
  • Cool Airship: Fahrenheit, which is an entire floating continent.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: The dragonites of Altair were suffering under Alexander's rule, but the only reason the Door to a New Age opens and lets monsters into Orelus is because Valitra, Leviathan, Garuda, and Jormungandr try to open it early when Yoyo contains them in her head as a means to oppose the Granvelos Empire. Had Sauthar not brought Yoyo to Campbell - or, more saliently, had he simply been satisfied with ruling the world - the rebel forces would have likely lost and Altair would never have become a problem, as the Divine Dragons could only impotently rage without a Dragnar to act as an extension of their power.
  • Crutch Character: Fittingly enough for a strategy game of its time, Byuu the Cross Knight and the Lancers basically exist to carry the early game party, before the team has all its mages and Light Armors and before Matelite and the Heavy Armors have the SP to use their powerful attacks. Around the mid-way point, Byuu and by extension, Palpaleos and the Lancers quickly fall off in terms of damage potential in regards to the other characters and their dragons.
  • Damsel in Distress: Yoyo. A good part of the game is spent attempting to rescue her from the Empire. Associated tropes are subverted, though, in that she falls for her kidnapper and is actually the one of most powerful characters in the game, in terms of both story and gameplay.
  • Descent into Addiction: As much as a mostly kid-friendly game could get in the 90s - Bikkebakke's odd, drug-induced mannerisms magnify the further into the game the player gets.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Byuu don't hook up with Princess Yoyo because she is in love with Palpaleos. However, the ending leaves Palpaleos' fate ambiguous, so she might also have ended up alone.
  • The Dragon: Palpaleos to Emperor Sauthar.
  • Dragon Rider: Every squad of up to four characters rides a single dragon which gives them powers based on its abilities, and the ability to command that dragon in combat.
  • Dual Wielding: Byuu and Palpaleos are seen wielding pairs of blades in their battle sprites, regardless of what sword they have equipped.
  • Element No. 5: Earth, Light and Dark aren't visible in your dragons' stats. Earth is the first extra element, a dragon who knows Fire, Ice and Lightning magic can use Earth at the same level as its worst element. Then, a dragon with maxed out Earth, Healing, Poison, Strength and Defense will gain access to the Light and Dark elements. Very few monsters resist these elements, and finishing off enemies with them gives a chance to drop the best items in the game. Unfortunately, they also cost a lot of MP to cast.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors
  • The Empire: Granvelos. Subverted in ending - Kahna itself becomes an empire from La Résistance's work in-game, but is obviously not evil.
  • Fatal Flaw: For Sauthar, ambition and an inability to stop while he's ahead. The plot literally only happens because Sauthar isn't satisfied with ruling the world, despite being a popular leader with only two incredibly small rebel cells opposing him. He'd already effectively won his war. This ends up costing him everything because it leads him to seek more power from the Divine Dragons, which ends up causing him to blunder Yoyo into the hands of the Kahna resistance, which bolsters their efforts and gives them the force necessary to start taking back Lagoons. It also directly leads to his death once he makes a pact with monsters to gain the same powers Yoyo has; his powers aren't as potent and he has serious 'weaknesses in his heart' such as doubt and fear as a result of doing so, which the Divine Dragons don't respond well to, causing Sauthar to become wracked with terrible illnesses that leave him a shell of his former self. Thus, he dies when he helps Yoyo contain Hyperion, as the power of even one Divine Dragon swiftly worsens his condition and kills him. Really, he would have had everything had he simply been an Orcus on His Throne.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: The three main elemental affinity of your dragons. However, there is other elements, like Earth, Poison and Dark.
  • Floating Continent: Every single piece of land in the game.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Light Armor Warriors Lukia, Jeanne and Mist. The Assassins are also rather squishy.
  • Functional Addict: Frederika and Bikkebakke experiment with what should be healing items and mushrooms respectively. While Frederika's addiction and hypochondria sideline her outside of combat, when she needs to do her job as an attendant at the castle or as a warrior and healer during warfare, she takes medications that briefly keep her healthy enough to be useful.
  • Gay Option: You can choose to have Byuu be interested in Sendak instead of Yoyo. Which is for the best anyway, since that scene...
  • Geo Effects: Different terrains hurt, heal or protect, and all can be altered with the right elemental attack.
  • Getting High on Their Own Supply: It is heavily implied the mushrooms Bikkebakke grows and sells are hallucinogenic, and his idle animation shows him wolfing them down.
  • Grimy Water: The poison swamp Geo Effect, which could be changed to a normal swamp via healing magic.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: A majority of male characters are melee-oriented units with maybe some magical capability on the side - Byuu and Palpaleos standing out as being the only characters to effectively mix melee and magic together to become Magic Knight units. If not for the existence of Sendak, every healer and dedicated mage in the game would be women. The only female characters who specialize in melee at all are the Light Armor warriors, who hit about as hard as the Cross Knights and harder than the Lancers but still pale in comparison to the Heavy Armors.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: The Light Armor ladies tend to drink a lot.
  • Heel–Face Turn: A soldier from the Empire, Palpaleos, joins the resistance midway through the story, in large part due to his love for Princess Yoyo.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Byuu actually uses two swords, to establish him as cooler than the stock sword-wielding units.
  • Heroic Mime: Byuu don't speak and only interact with other characters through choices made by the player.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Before the events of the game proper, the rank and file soldiers of Maharl, led by Taicho's wife, Celine, use a suicide charge on Lestat as a means to sneak Taicho and Gunso to safety so that they could return with the forces capable to reclaim Maharl.
  • Improbable Weapon User: While not having specific characters with improbable weapons, it does have various items that all characters can throw to cause damage or status effects. These items include Sweet Memory, Erotic Book, and Burnt Cookie.
  • Jack of All Stats: Cross Knights Byuu and Palpaleos and to the lesser extent the Knights Rush, Truce and Bikkebakke.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero Found Underwear: Byuu finds quite a number of "drawer things" - things from a drawer in the wink and nudge sense. You can also find "Princess' ???", usually in the suspicious location of Yoyo's bed. In Japan, a certain female body hair is considered a good luck charm. However, you can also find "Gunso's ???" by talking to him at pretty much any time...
  • Lady of War: The Light Armors - Lukia, Jeanne, and Mist.
  • Magic Knight: Every physical combatant, courtesy of the dragons.
  • Mighty Glacier: Royal Guard Matelite and the Heavy Armor Warriors Taicho, Gunso and Barclay. They are strong and durable, but also slow and miss attacks more than any other class.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: A dialog option late into the game, following Yoyo's Character Development, can have Byuu admit he feels Yoyo's growth into a strong, able queen is largely a result of her love for Palpaleos and the support he gives her - basically functioning as a source of courage. Yoyo neither confirms nor denies this assertion, and it's left up to the player to decide whether or not Byuu is correct; while Palpaleos does teach Yoyo wartime strategy, Yoyo goes through quite a bit of growth well before Palpaleos joins the party, and Yoyo was heading to Kahna Castle to legitimize her rule and retake her nation just before she ran into and recruited Palpaleos.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When you liberate Cambell from The Empire 's grip, most of the people (including the queen) are displeased with you doing this. One man says that "If we obeyed [The Imperial Soldiers], they were actually nice guys," and another says that Palpaleos told him he'd grow up to be strong.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Effectively the entire plot hinged on Sauthar trying to awaken the Divine Dragons just because he wasn't satisfied with already conquering the world. If not for this choice, the rebel army would have never succeeded - Yoyo would have been killed because she's useless as an asset to Sauthar otherwise, or at least never brought to Campbell to awaken Valitra, and as a result the rebel forces from Kahna would have never recovered their leader. Sauthar also would have been able to put down the rebel forces entirely on his own - the only thing that stopped him from pulling a fait accompli and ending the resistance by his own hand in Campbell was Valitra waking up and knocking him out. The trope is almost exaggerated, because Sauthar pointlessly playing with the main cast and beating them up slowly forced Yoyo to awaken her powers as a Dragnar, which end up allowing her to call upon the powers of the Divine Dragons and unravel the Granvelos Empire.
  • No Name Given: Zora's son. Eventually revealed to be Orelus, the same name as the world. No plot relevance, though.
  • Non-Elemental: Uni magic. It's typeless, does double damage, but also has a 50% failure rate.
  • One-Winged Angel: The final boss starts as a giant dragon, and after defeat transforms into a giant, five-headed dragon that takes up the whole map.
  • Parental Bonus: The game is infamous for being littered with dirty jokes and their varying degrees of brazenness. Namely the 12-pack of condoms in a drawer with one missing, jock itch, possibly the princess's pubes or underwear, old man Sendak's constant passes at Byuu with some lines that had to be cut, Frederika's drug habit, moaning coming from Yoyo's room that isn't due to the Holy Dragons, etc. etc.
  • Random Effect Spell: The Mini-Devils' Dances are entirely unpredictable; the pool of effects can be changed based on the dragon associated with them, but there's rarely more than about a 60% chance of getting a positive result. Results can range from various element attacks with varying ranges, healing your party, healing the enemies, healing everyone, putting targets to sleep or poisoning them, etc.
  • Summon Magic: Yoyo and Sendak can summon the obtained Holy Dragons in combat.
  • Superboss: The game has special "side quests" - essentially single battles - available throughout the game. One of them, appropriately named Hard Dungeon, is only available in the last seven chapters and is far more difficult than the final boss.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Maybe. The ending makes it somewhat ambiguous whether the events shown are a dream or not, but if the event did happen, Palpaleos gets stabbed in the back by his own people on the balcony of Castle Granvelos. There was no way in a semi-realistic setting General Susua Palpaleos was going to have a happy ending, no matter how much Queen Yoyo may have wished otherwise. Even if, through dialogue options, the player ends up having Byuu be completely fine with Palpaleos ending up with Yoyo, downplaying or eliminating any sexual tension between Byuu and Yoyo to make the relationship work, Byuu is only the start of a long list of people who would want Palpaleos dead. He'd never get asylum in Kahna given a good half of the party refuses to forgive him for being one of the leading reasons behind the unification war, marrying Palpaleos would have been political suicide for Yoyo given his origins and Palpaleos is clearly aware of how other people feel about him, and returning to Granvelos was a sure way to die given how he effectively betrayed his nation and allowed war to reach the Empire's doorstep. There was really no other way this could end.
  • Talented Princess, Regular Guy: Byuu might be a pretty good knight, but he takes a back seat, both in power and story role, to Princess Yoyo.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: There's constant in-fighting with some of the rebels, Don Juan's constantly falling for the nearest woman, and not to mention the Love Triangle that involves an enemy general working with the rebels...
  • This Is the Final Battle: Subverted. Hornet tells you the final battle is about to begin in chapter 18, but it doesn't actually happen until chapter 23.
  • Title Drop: During the ending. Bahamut claims Orelus as his lagoon.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Melodia, the youngest of the rebels.
  • Uncertain Doom: During the ending sequence, Palpaleos is attacked by two of his countrymen who blame him for the war. However, the next scene shows Yoyo waking up from a nightmare, making Palpaleos' fate ambiguous.
  • Units Not to Scale: Units, forests, castles, houses - they all take up one square. This even has the added bonus of combining this trope with Party in My Pocket.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In spades. Due to Byuu being a Supporting Protagonist, generally being silent and his dialogue being up to the player, the Love Triangle problems, and a short epilogue, we don't get a coherent narrative in general.
  • Unsound Effect: The "weird noises" that seem to pop up spontaneously during dialogue seem to indicate arousal (Don Juan's trademark "boing" sound, natch), scheming (Ekatarina's), and spitefulness (Mist).
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Between battles, the player is generally given an opportunity to explore around the ship and chat with the party. Byuu can help crewmembers find love, reassure them when they're down, take care to check in on Sendak and Yoyo even when it isn't required, and protect a few crew members from a terrible fate by not involving them in a dangerous reconnaissance mission. Nothing is gained or lost as a result of any of this - these opportunities simply exist to allow the player to bring positivity and light to otherwise grim situations.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The game offers ample opportunities to rudely break poor Sendak's heart over and over and over again. ("I don't need any, you old man!")
  • Villain with Good Publicity: A major issue for the rebel army once they make their move to liberate the various nations of Orelus from Granvelos' control is that many of the nations don't want to be liberated, which shocks the party when the first nation they liberate, Campbell, effectively offers itself back to the Empire and politely asks the rebels to leave. The prevailing reason behind this is that, though he was unpopular during the actual unification war, Emperor Sauthar benefited from a massive spike in popularity once he won, unified Orelus, and put a stop to any and all warfare. Any nation that wanted to keep their independence was allowed to do so provided a Granvelosian military presence was permitted nearby, and anyone that swore fealty was rewarded with support and aid from Granvelos. The only nations that explicitly welcome the rebels as a result are Maharl - a shadow of its former self, existing only because of a few rebel fighters - and Kahna itself.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: If Byuu's party falls, the game is over. Which is egregious, as he's merely a Supporting Protagonist, you'd think the princess' death would demoralise everyone.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: This unfortunately happens with some degree of regularity, largely outside the player's control - or worse, when the player has the illusion of control.
    • A flashback involves Byuu sneaking Yoyo out of the castle to go on a joyride with a dragon. Matelite is left irate.
    • Played for humor (sort of) at one point. Byuu gets called out on the torture of an enemy soldier if the player chooses to do so. Not that the player has any real choice there.
    • Following the awakening of Garuda, Rush has a childish moment of surliness and locks Matelite out of the ship's entry. He strings Byuu along with shopping and feeding the dragons while Matelite is literally left sobbing at how cruel the party is being to him for no reason. You cannot open the door or shout Rush down for this, and it nearly results in Rush and Byuu getting killed when monsters invade the flight deck. This briefly precludes Byuu and Rush from any further strategic meetings with Yoyo, which can sting for the player given how they had no control of the situation.