News Article

Matters of Import: Bahamut Lagoon Roars Onto The Japanese Wii U eShop

Posted by Kerry Brunskill

Here be dragons

Due for re-release on the Japanese Wii U Virtual Console service today, Bahamut Lagoon is (another) one of Squaresoft’s lost RPG treasures, a game that eighteen years after its original release still doesn’t officially exist to those of us living outside Japan.

The game most closely resembles a strategy RPG, similar to Shining Force II or Fire Emblem, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve that set it apart from the crowd. Each character shown on the battle map actually represents a team of four, and each of these parties is accompanied by a dragon. These dragons are never directly controlled by the player, but they can be given one of three basic orders that effect their behaviour on the battlefield, and decide whether they’ll stick close to their human team, stay put, or fly off on their own and probably end up in a heap of trouble.

There are two ways of doing damage to the enemy – direct combat plays out much like a regular JRPG, with individual party members given one turn to attack, defend or use their spells and skills. But Bahamut Lagoon’s really interesting ideas come into play when you use “field” skills instead.

Field skills are where a little bit of real-world logic creeps into the game. It’s always been a bit strange that RPGs are happy to let you summon fiery death upon your foes without leaving so much as a single blade of grass out of place, so it’s very nice to see Bahamut Lagoon bucking that trend and allowing you to freeze lakes with ice magic or burn down forests with fire spells. It’s not just for show, either – frozen water can be walked upon, bridges can be destroyed to stop your enemies chasing after you and ending a turn in the middle of a blazing inferno is definitely not good for your health!

Coming so very late In the SNES’ life certainly brought some issues – both the Sega Saturn and the PlayStation were at least a year old at the time – but on the other hand, it’s easily one of the most visually stunning SNES games of any genre, with virtually every single screen featuring some pastel-coloured “Mode 7” effect or a translucent overlay, if not both together. The lavish visual polish continues through every aspect of the game, with player and enemy battle sprites being a particular highlight with their exceptionally wide range of animations, even going so far as to have characters panting with exhaustion when they’re low on health – a small detail that’s not to be taken for granted, even today. Spells and battle effects are another area where Squaresoft flexed its impressive artistic muscle, starting big and only get bigger as the game progresses. It’s easy to dismiss these details as nothing more than a developer arguably at its peak wanting to show off, but this visual feedback does help to add a feeling of accomplishment to your dragon-raising efforts beyond the expected stat sheet increases

An entire game where half your forces are controlled by unseen game AI sounds like the stuff of nightmares, but Bahamut Lagoon handles it well. Your dragons are tough enough to take a few knocks, smart enough to heal themselves if needed and not use elemental attacks that would do more good than harm to whoever they’re attacking. Out of battle, their stat growth is entirely down to them player, who has the option of feeding them whatever spare items and equipment they've got to hand to tailor the stats almost exactly how they want them. Want to give a dragon more HP? Just feed them a few healing items. Want to boost their attack? Get them to eat some weaponry. Stat changes are immediate and obvious, giving some sense of control back to the player over these unpredictable beasts.

Some older games are best left as pleasant memories, as the experience of playing them years later can often reveal flaws that we've gladly left behind long ago. Bahamut Lagoon is not one of those games. Even today — eighteen years after it first hit Japanese store shelves — the game is still a joy to play and to look at. Bahamut Lagoon is a very welcome addition to the Wii U library and an RPG more than worth any genre fan’s time. Any chance of an English translation, Square?

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User Comments (36)

Shiryu

#1

Shiryu said:

Fantastic game, one I am glad to have played for quite a bit back in the day. ^_^

RedRocBoy

#2

RedRocBoy said:

Can someone answer a question for me? Why the hell aren't we getting these games. We have like zero RPG's. Japan got all the dope old school Final Fantasy games and we got nothing. Sad face. :(

Alucard83

#3

Alucard83 said:

@RedRocBoy, no wonder why people are getting illegal roms and whatever. This is because they simply don't care if Europe or USA region will play it or not. They think no one is interested. I mean look @ xbox for example. Almost only action/shooter games! nuff said

edhe

#6

edhe said:

The fact of the matter is that Square-Enix aren't going to spend a single cent to translate this game so it can be brought over to the west.

It's a shame these games are so inaccessable in that respect. I suppose it's doable with a gamefaqs translation guide open (providing the game has one), but then there's the act of importing the game (again, doable in this case - it's currently listed on ebay at under £15).

All I can say is gawd bless hybrid consoles. I hope to pick the Retron up when it finally releases, and hopefully, this game too. It looks interesting.

RedRocBoy

#7

RedRocBoy said:

I for one would give SquareEnix a gang of money if they got off their butts and translated their older games or just give us the games we had on the Wii eShop. These devs are seriously missing out on potential revenue. It's insane to even think about. All the awesome games we're missing. Hope Nintendo changes this soon.

CanisWolfred

#8

CanisWolfred said:

This game is a true gem. Shame most people won't get to play it, it deserves more attention.

datamonkey

#9

datamonkey said:

I used to own a Japanese import copy of this though never did get round to playing it!

ikki5

#12

ikki5 said:

@RedRocBoy

simple answer. RPG's in NA are a dead man walking thanks to shooters and action (action adventure too) being the "cool" thing that people must play. Plus a lot of RPG's that would be released for Japan had not actually be translated

River3636

#13

River3636 said:

This game is always on my list for RPGs I wanted and never played, sadly I have never played it. translation, translation, translation, region ,region , region.

mozie

#14

mozie said:

@Alucard83 Off the top of my head, Tales of Vesperia, Eternal Sonata, Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Resonance of Fate, Star Ocean: The Last Hope,
Record of Agarest War, Magna Carta 2, Enchanted Arms, Infinite Undiscovery, The Last Remnant and NEIR were some good jrpg times I had on my xbox last gen, sure action/shooters get all the press but there all titles there if your willing to look, suprising we got these considering the Japenese gamers bias towards Microsoft, which was also the best shmup platform last gen.

AtlanteanMan

#15

AtlanteanMan said:

Almost nothing that is or was a Japanese-only release will ever be translated for a localization, sadly, and in many cases even games that did come over here won't be on services like the VC or PSN. I'm sure the sheer cost and time/resources consumed by translations deter companies from the former.

The unfortunate truth when it comes to the huge disparity between the Japanese and Western VC and other consoles' digital libraries is that Japan is the home market both for Sony and Nintendo. Want that great old-school JRPG, SRPG, Schmup, or Strategy title? Good luck, because practically ALL of these types of games originate in Japan (however, if you love yourself some FPSes, you should be well-covered, and yes, that's bitter sarcasm).

It'd be awesome if some company could develop a sub-engine for consoles and PC that enables a player in any given region to play a game and view its text in their own language; the thing would probably make incredible money via licensing (assuming it's doable). But for now all we can do is watch our Japanese gamer friends' options continue to explode while we get a relative trickle of the classic titles we want, if at all.

Silvervisiona

#16

Silvervisiona said:

I loved this game. I played this at a young age and is one of the reasons I fell in love with JRPGs, due it it's excellent tactics and music. The dragons made the game epic and the bosses were so much fun to beat. I would love to play an official translation because the story was top notch. Please surprise us Square-Enix!

Weedy

#17

Weedy said:

These "Matter of Import" articles are so bitter sweet. You keep telling me about great games I will probably never get to play!

KimimiStaff

#18

Kimimi said:

@Weedy Sorry! Comes with the territory I'm afraid. If it's any consolation I've also covered a few I wouldn't recommend too - just look at Initial D: Perfect Shift or Swords & Darkness!

Vanya

#21

Vanya said:

The thing I hate about seeing kick-donkey games like this coming to eshop is I'm almost certain that no one in a position to do so will want to get off their butt and make a translation for any other regions happen.
Please watch the profanity — TBD

ogo79

#23

ogo79 said:

yeah people know what to do if they want an english version of games in their consoles...

retro_player_22

#26

retro_player_22 said:

I wish we get the Bahamut trilogy (Bahamut Lagoon - SNES, Bahamut Senki - MegaDrive, and Blood of Bahamut - DS) here, those games were epic for their time.

Golfshirt

#28

Golfshirt said:

This was one I was always curious about back in the day. It would be amazing if they put forth the effort to translate this and release it in North America/Europe. They could even charge more than the typical SNES Virtual Console release to make up for it, I'm sure people would be willing to pay a little more for the extra work. Sadly, if they did translate it, they'd probably only release it for cell phones anyway.

Hortencio

#29

Hortencio said:

Damn, Mozie, way to throw it down (though I'd respectfully disagree with a few titles you listed as providing "good jrpg times")! Your argument is the exact reason why any system (in my personal example to friends, the Wii) can provide a gamer with enough entertainment and content so long as they're willing to look for it.

BlackStar9000

#32

BlackStar9000 said:

I just saw the original Issac from Golden Sun up there, dont tell me Im alone, cant be a coincidence

Mato

#36

Mato said:

I would love to retranslate this now that I have years of professional experience under my belt. Whether as another fan translation or in a professional capacity, it's something I still occasionally dream about :P

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