Lagoon was released for the Super Nintendo in North America on December 1991. Also, the Sharp X68000 version of Lagoon was released in 1990, only in Japan.
The Super Nintendo was officially released in North America August 23, 1991. Back then, some of the original launch titles for the Super Nintendo were the first Pilotwings game and Super Mario World. The Super Nintendo began to have a lot of Role Playing Games/RPGS for the system over the years. Out of all of the RPGS that were released for the Super Nintendo, Chrono Trigger is the most popular/best RPG for the SNES. It was not much different back in 1991 as it was near the end of the Super Nintendo lifespan, since you gradually began to see RPGS being released for the Super Nintendo almost immediately. Lagoon was, in fact, one of the first RPGS to be released for the Super Nintendo besides Drakkhen. In fact, Lagoon and Drakkhen were both developed by Kemco, but Lagoon was also developed by Zoom.
So, is Lagoon one of the best RPGS for the SNES like Chrono Trigger is? Lagoon is unfortunately not considered to be one of the best RPGS of all time. Since, for one thing, Lagoon is actually a lesser known/popular RPG, so there's not a lot of people who's actually heard of/seen Lagoon before. Especially, since Lagoon is not even on the list of IGN's top SNES games of all time. Plus, not everyone that's played Lagoon has actually enjoyed playing it, due the sword swinging mechanics being vastly different than what they're used to playing the Legend of Zelda series, for instance. However, in my opinion, Lagoon is actually a decent/good game to play for the Super Nintendo. Lagoon may not hold a candle compared to how amazing/great Chrono Trigger is though, but Lagoon can still be a decent game for at least some people.
Now, I'll briefly talk about the story and gameplay of Lagoon. The story is basically about having the main character, Nasir saving the water from becoming muddy, but I won't spoil too much of the story for those who have never played Lagoon before.
The intro of Lagoon has Nasir standing right next to Thor, who is actually Nasir's brother. Nasir and Thor first look at a tall, gray castle that has small, rounded windows. You also see Nasir standing next to a princess/girl with blonde hair, but I still have no idea what relationship that they have with each other yet. Then, Mathias, who is Nasir's guide/mentor briefly speaks to Nasir about how the water recently became muddy, and Nasir is chosen to pretty much save the entire kingdom from danger. Atland is the first town that you explore/play in Lagoon. You'll get to see some brief dialogue from various characters, but you have to enter inside a church in order to progress throughout the game. There is one guy who falls/collapses on the ground, but I still don't know what his name is yet. In order to enter the cave, you have to first buy a weapon/sword in Atland. Which the first sword is called the Short Sword in the game. Once you do that, you have to have one guy follow you to in order to get to the other side of the cave.
After you do that, you can now finally focus on defeating various enemies in the cave. The two types of enemies that you first encounter are squirrels and skeletons. The skeletons move slightly slower than the squirrels do, but the skeletons take a little bit longer to kill. So, it actually balances out the game better that way. In the cave, Nasir doesn't have access to use any type of magic right away. Throughout the cave and dungeons later on in the game, you can find various treasure chests in order to have access to various items throughout the game. Which is pretty similar to how you find various treasure chests in The Legend of Zelda series. Some items that you get from treasure chests are specific items that you need to have access to in order to progress further the game such as a Moveable Mantle and Truth Fire, for instance. Some other items that you get from treasure chests are upgrades to your swords, shields, armor, and Power Rings which you have access to later on in the game.
Samson is the very first boss in Lagoon, and you need to have access to a key in order to fight against Samson and most other bosses throughout the game. Once you defeat Samson, you earn your first Magic item, but you can no longer access back to Atland again. Then you first encounter Thor, he says that you need to have access to a total of three Tablets in order to first enter Phillip's Castle, which is the very first dungeon in the game. Once you defeat the second boss in Phillip's Castle, you get your very first upgrade to your sword, which is called the Silver Sword. The Silver Sword is the second sword in the game. Then there's another cave that you must enter right after that. In the second cave, you get another upgrade to your sword that's called the Magic Sword which is the third sword in the game. The Magic Sword is much stronger/more powerful than the Silver Sword is. You also have access to your first Power Ring in the second cave.
Once you defeat the third boss in the cave, you have access to enter the second dungeon in the game that's called Siegfried Castle. You also have access to the fourth sword in the game that's called the Force Sword right before you fight against the fourth boss in Siegfried Castle. Once you defeat the fourth boss in Siegfried Castle, Nasir once again encounters Thor. However, something fishy is going since Thor no longer behaves so nicely to Nasir like he did earlier in the game when he was telling Nasir to collect three Tablets. Since we now learn that Thor is actually Nasir's evil brother. Thor ends up causing an earthquake to shake and move up Lagoon Castle in the sky by using a geyser. Which Lagoon Castle is the third and final dungeon in the game.
However, before Nasir enters Lagoon Castle, he has to first enter the Ice Cave, which is the third and final cave in the game. Once you defeat the fifth boss in the Ice Cave, you have to again defeat the sixth boss outside of Ice Cave. Before Nasir defeats the sixth boss outside of Ice Cave, Nasir encounters a few other characters. Nasir ends up encountering Mathias again. But, Mathias unfortunately dies after Mathias battles against an enemy. After that happens, Nasir battles against the sixth boss. After you defeat the sixth boss, you can then enter Lagoon Castle. In Lagoon Castle, you get your fifth and final sword in the game that's called the Moon Blade. The final boss battles have you going though a series of multiple bosses a time. Thor is one of the final bosses in the game when he transforms into a bird. Once you finally defeat Thor, then Thor has a one to one conversation with Nasir again.
The story of Lagoon is pretty basic, and the game is pretty short compared to how longer most typical RPGS are for the Super Nintendo.
Now, the graphics of Lagoon won't blow any type of water away (which perfectly aligns with Lagoon's main story) since the graphics look pretty basic for the most part. However, even though the graphics look pretty basic/generic due to Lagoon being released pretty early in the Super Nintendo lifespan, the actual graphics don't look too bad/shabby for an early Generation Super Nintendo game.
The graphics in Lagoon look pretty crisp and clear, which is similar to even how Bahamut Lagoon looks like for the Super Nintendo. Bahamut Lagoon was released for the SNES in 1996 whereas Lagoon was released for the SNES in 1991. Even some parts of the graphics of Lagoon look quite similar how the graphics are in Illusion of Gaia. When Nasir battles against Thor in the end of the game, the stars in the background move at a diagonal angle. The stars in the background move at a similar direction every time Will/Freedan talks to Gaia in order to heal, transform into another character, or save the game in Illusion of Gaia. Illusion of Gaia was released for the SNES in 1994.
Even Lagoon bears some similarities to Tales of Phantasia that was released for the SNES in 1995. Thor especially looks like an anime character from the Tales series. If you look at the front cover of the Japanese version of Lagoon for the SNES, there's a picture of Thor and Nasir together. Which even the front cover of the Japanese box art in Lagoon looks similar to how front cover looks like in Tales of Phantasia.
This is the main area where a lot of people tend to be the most critical about Lagoon. While, Lagoon is generally praised for its awesome soundtrack, Lagoon is still largely criticized in the gameplay department. A lot of people tend to pick different nicknames for the swords in Lagoon such as a Swiss Army, Steak, Potato, or Butter Knife. Since the range of Nasir's swords are pretty limited, so that's why you have you have to move closer to enemies in order to kill them. Which are basically close ranged battles.
Even though all of Nasir's five sets of swords have a limited amount of range, it's still fairly easy to kill most of the regular enemies in Lagoon. Plus, each upgraded sword is definitely stronger than the previous sword that you recently just had. As I said earlier in my review, it takes much less hits to kill enemies with the Magic Sword than it does with the Silver Sword. The Force Sword is also much stronger than the Magic Sword is as well. Enemies are also killed quicker when they move faster, and the slower moving enemies take a little bit longer to kill. Plus, it's also much easier and faster to kill enemies while using magic over using swords. However, be careful that your magic can still drain pretty quickly. So, just simply stand still in order to revive your health and magic back up at the same time. Also, once Nasir levels up from killing a bunch of enemies from time to time, his maximum health and magic will increase.
The gameplay of Lagoon uses combination of mechanics from the Ys and The Legend of Zelda series. However, the original Sharp X68000 version of Lagoon uses Bump Combat which is carried over from the Ys series. Whereas the Super Nintendo version of Lagoon uses sword swinging mechanics from The Legend of Zelda series.
There are five sets of swords in Lagoon. The Short Sword is the first sword, the Silver Sword is the second sword, the Magic Sword is the third sword, the Force Sword is the fourth sword, and the Moon Blade is the fifth sword in the game. You get access to the Short Sword in Atland. Next, you get the Silver Sword after you defeat the second boss in Phillip's Castle. Then, you get the Magic Sword in the second cave. After that, you get the Force Sword in Siegfried Castle. Finally, you get the Moon Blade in Lagoon Castle. You can also get up to a total of five sets of shields, armor, and Power Rings. You'll get access to your very first Power Ring in the second cave in the game. Power Rings can especially help you out in boss fights. There's one Power Ring that won't drain your health/HP once you get hit by enemies, but your magic/MP will still drain. There's also another Power Ring that can increase your HP and MP up. You can also use magic right after you defeat Samson, which is the first boss in the game. Magic can be used to kill regular enemies in the game, but remember that you can't use magic to kill some of the regular enemies in Lagoon. You can use a set of crystals in Lagoon to pick and choose from having different ways/possibilities to use magic. You can use different type of magic such as fire, water, or grass, for instance.
There are two neat/interesting things about Lagoon that you won't find in most RPGS for the SNES. First, you can practically heal yourself almost anywhere in Lagoon. Which is pretty neat since it's actually pretty rare to find healing items such as Elixirs in the game. Let's say if you're running low on health, you can simply stand still to heal yourself. I would first stay away from enemies before I heal myself out in the field. Second, you can save your progress almost anywhere in Lagoon. Which you normally can't save almost anywhere in most RPGS for the SNES. However, you can't use any type of magic in boss fights. You also can't heal yourself in boss rooms either. Which certainly makes defeating bosses the most challenging part of Lagoon. However, there is one Power Ring that you can use to heal yourself in boss fights near the end of the game, but you don't get that Power Ring until much later on in the game.
As a tip, always wait for enemies to come to you first before you swing your sword against them. Since, it's much easier/faster to time your hits and kill enemies when you're simply standing still. This is the reason why playing Lagoon is different than playing The Legend of Zelda since you can kill enemies efficiently while moving at the same time in the Zelda series. So, while the sword swinging mechanics in Lagoon may be similar to the Zelda series, you still can't play Lagoon the same exact way as you can in Zelda.
The music is generally referred to as the very best aspect/part of Lagoon since the music sounds so unique in general. Since when was the last time that you heard happy/upbeat/fast paced upbeat music in an RPG? Well, you can, at least hear that cool/awesome type of music in Lagoon at least.
The intro/theme music of Lagoon is so good. There's also other pretty memorable tracks such as Atland, Phillips' Castle, Elf Field, Master of Water, and even when you pick up items in the game as well. Pretty much all of the music is pretty catchy and memorable in Lagoon.
Overall, Lagoon is actually a pretty fun RPG (and underrated, in my opinion) game to play on the Super Nintendo. However, Lagoon will never be as good as Chrono Trigger, Illusion of Gaia, Soul Blazer, Terranigma, Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Mario RPG, Earthbound, and Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals are.
Instead Lagoon is more easily comparable to the lesser known/popular SNES RPGS such as Drakkhen, Dragon View, Dungeon Master, Arcana, The 7th Saga, Secret of Evermore, and Lufia and the Fortress of Doom. Even though Secret of Evermore was developed by SquareSoft, it was actually developed by an American branch. So, that's why Secret of Evermore was never released in Japan, for a change. Plus, the overall reception of Secret of Evermore isn't nearly as positive as there is for Secret of Mana. The same thing goes for how Lufia II has more positive reception than Lufia 1 has. Plus, just like Lagoon, Drakkhen was also developed by Kemco. What's also interesting is that we have two titles that have the word Lagoon in the title that were both released for the Super Nintendo. The other title is called Bahamut Lagoon, which was developed by SquareSoft.
Like I said earlier in my review, Lagoon is a pretty short game. Which shouldn't take some people very long to beat the game over the weekend. However, that can a bad thing since most SNES RPGS last much longer than Lagoon does. On the top with Lagoon only having one save file per game, it makes it difficult for more than one person to take turns playing Lagoon when a person only has one copy of the game.
*Lagoon has some of best soundtracks for an SNES RPG.
*The graphics look pretty decent for it's time since Lagoon was released near the beginning of the Super Nintendo life span. Even the graphics in Lagoon look somewhat similar to Illusion of Gaia.
*Healing yourself and saving your progress almost anywhere certain makes Lagoon a unique SNES RPG to play.
*Also, using a combination of different type of magic makes Lagoon mostly unique SNES RPG to play.
*Some of the dialogue has a bit of humor to it when some characters speak to Nasir from time to time.
*The gameplay is unfortunately not for everyone since you have to play Lagoon differently than you would in a typical RPG that has sword swinging mechanics.
*There's only one save file, and the game is pretty short overall.
Presentation = 7
Graphics = 7
Gameplay = 8
Sound = 10
Lasting appeal = 6
GameSpot score: 7 out of 10