Hello again, my lovely Lusi-sprites.
Bahamut Lagoon (Bahalag) is a strategy RPG developed and published by Square back in ye olden days of 1996. Like Terranigma and Seiken Densetsu 3, Bahamut Lagoon was not released in North America, primarily due to the decline of the SNES and rise of the Playstation at that time. There is an unofficial English translation available online, however.
The game is set in the sky world Orelus where various floating islands (lagoons) exist and vie with each other for power and control. In the prologue of the game the player bears witness to the fall of a kingdom named Kahna at the hands of the Granbelos Empire (aka The Bad Guys). Granbelos has swept through the skies of Orelus, conquering and subjegating lagoon after lagoon. After the fall of Kahna and the death of their King, some of Kahna’s survivors band together to form the Resistance. Anyone who has played Final Fantasy 6 likely knows how this all goes. The Resistance is a rag-tag group comprising ex-military personnel, a few average joes, and some quirky little beings called “Mini-Devils”. As the game progresses, they liberate various lagoons, gaining new allies and new playable characters, all under the leadership of Byuu, the leader of Kahna’s famous Dragon Squad. Byuu is a reluctant leader, and the player is left with the impression that if he were not harboring secret feelings for Kahna’s princess, he would be happy to just sit back and be a grunt.
At the heart of the story is Kahna’s aforementioned surviving princess, Yoyo. Before anyone asks, yes you can rename her to something slightly less stupid. Yoyo has been kidnapped by the game’s primary baddy, Emperor Sauzer. Yoyo has inherited the power to commune with the Holy Dragons, mystical dragon-gods who are supposed to rule over and protect their respective lagoons from another dimmension. Sauzer, being your typical power-hungry baddy craves this power and plans to steal or manipulate it from the princess. She is rescued early in the game by the Resistance, and tags along with them, using her powers to help liberate the other lagoons and acquire the power of the dragons to hopefully oneday defeat the Empire. Of course it cannot really be so simple. During her captivity she and General Palpaleos, best friend to the Emperor meet and fall in love much to the dismay of poor Byuu. As with any decent Square RPG, the plot takes various twists and turns, all is not as it appears, and the final act has little to do with the original Bad Guys.
Gameplay-wise the game is wonderfully addictive. Most of the game is spent in turn-based strategy battle mode. Your playable characters are separated into squads of uip to four characters with a maximum of six squads total. The squads themselves are customizable and require some strategic planning. Attacks can be made against enemy units by standing next to them and attacking, which allows for one round of typical menu-based combat where each character takes a turn. Attacks can also be made from a distance, by having the squad select one ability that at least one squad member knows, and using it against an enemy unit or units in range. These attacks are more effective the more squad members know that ability. For example, a squad of four Wizards can cast powerful magical attacks from a safe distance, but they sacrifice diversity, and can struggle in close combat.
Dragons are at the heart of the game’s battle mechanics. A squad is bound to a particular dragon, and as only six dragons are available in the game, there is a maximum of six squads available. The dragon exists as its own unit on the battle map, and can attack enemy units using a decent AI to control movements and attacks. Certain statistics of the dragons affect the squads directly. For example, if you feed the dragon items that boost its Ice attribute to say, level 3, that means that squad members bound to that dragon can use level 3 ice attacks (if that character has any ice attacks). It is important, therefore, to choose squad members carefully, then carefully assign their dragon. It is also important to cvarefully manage the items that dragons eat. It is more efficient to feed Fire to one dragon, Ice to another, Poison to another, etc. However the player may opt instead to diversify and level their dragons up slowly, but equally.
The last item of note is the game’s translation itself. The characters are … quirky. There is some filthy humour in the game that likely would not have made it past a localization team in the mid 1990s, but really gives the game a lot of its current charm. Porn magazines, inappropriate touching and lustful looks between males (how scandalous!) All in all, an enjoyable tactical RPG that does not take itself too seriously, or think for a minute that anything other than the gameplay is the driving force behind the game.