Monday, May 8, 2006

Bahamut Lagoon's Love Triangle

I've been a pretty cantankerous RPG grump lately, so let's mix it up with another positive rant. And of course, as always, spoilers abound. I mean, I don't usually even bother putting that up these days, but sometimes I spoil so much of a game that I feel that I really HAVE to.

I don't expect too many of you are familiar with one of Square's more obscure old RPGs, Bahamut Lagoon, so here's a sum-up: A Silent Protagonist (God how I hate them) leads a small army of warriors, including Metallite, the original Adelbert Steiner, to save his world against the plots of an evil emperor and the encroachment of an usurper dragon god. Said world in need of protection is made up of large masses of land that float high, high in the sky, forming a world of aerial islands (and you thought Skies of Arcadia had that idea first).

So, yeah, history lesson done with. The game's definitely interesting and fun in its own right, with many deep, dynamic characters, an engaging and interesting plot, and a good share of goofy fun (Donfan is the most awesome RPG smoove operator lady-chaser EVER). But probably the most interesting and original aspect of it, to me, is its romantic subplot.

Now, before I begin, lemme just make a disclaimer here. A lot of this is gonna be based on my personal interpretation of the main character, Byuu, because, being the ever-irritating Silent Protagonist that he is, one has to piece his personality together out of actions, yes/no questions, and general demeanor rather than actual dialogue and monologue, meaning there's plenty of room for interpretation. But as we all know, my interpretation is always right anyways, so let's begin.

Now, at first, the love triangle of this game seems familiar to the point of stupid cliche--protagonist (Byuu) loves girl, antagonist (Palpaleos) loves girl, and girl (Yoyo--no, seriously, that really is her name) is caught in the middle of them. Antagonist turns out to be not that bad a guy after a little while, just to be on the wrong side. Byuu spent his childhood with Yoyo, and in their childish innocence, they went through a little ceremony promising to always be together (on this note, SquareEnix would later plagiarize itself in Kingdom Hearts 1). Palpaleos spent a few years later on getting to know and love Yoyo as she was a well-treated prisoner of his emperor's.

Now, here's where Bahamut Lagoon suddenly turns around and throws you for a loop: Byuu, the hero, loses. The hero of the game does NOT get the girl he loves. During her forced stay under the care of Palpaleos and his country, Yoyo falls in love with him (one can most likely attribute this largely to Stockholm Syndrome, which adds another very unique and intriguing dimension to the romantic story), and stays in love with him throughout the game. Byuu, however, still loves her as well, and his childhood memories with her hang heavily in his mind.

This whole triangle is carried out VERY well overall--it's not some stupid soap opera with feuds and jealousy, but rather a simple bittersweet affair. Byuu holds no grudges, and neither he nor Palpaleos battle one another out of jealousy or try to aggressively win/keep Yoyo's heart.

It's a story of having regrets that the world changed them as people, and that they had to move on from who they were to who they had become. Very poignant, and considering how easy it would have been to make it some violent, shallow affair that you could see on ABC during the daytime, I can really appreciate it. The closest I can think of to ever having seen a relationship ending up like this would be Final Fantasy 6's Terra's brief interest in Locke, but even she admits later that it wasn't substantial. I really enjoy and appreciate this game for taking a real stab at a new and intriguing angle to the tired love triangle.


  1. Bahamut Lagoon was one of those games I saw screenshots of in either a GamePro or EGM magazine so many years ago when the Super Nes was king of consoles. I never got to play the game because I believe that back then, there were no plans to release it outside of Japan. Your mention of the plot twist in the love triangle of this game really piqued my interest. Not many games throw in twists where the hero/heroine does not get the girl/guy. In fact, not many games have the romantic choice character choose to be with the "bad guy or girl" over the main character. Wow, I feel bad for Byuu, but this twist certainly adds an unusual possibility that is heart-wrenching but intriguing. It's a shame that the devs didn't give the player the option to try and win the girl back, or throw in a dramatic scene where the hero loses his life (or is at the brink of dying) and the girl realizes how much the guy means to her.

    In fact, I'm really surprised that with the melancholy involved in the Breath of Fire games, Capcom never had it to where it's possible for Nina or Ryu to end up falling for someone else. Well the American version of BoF 4 had a scene where Nina believes she's in love with Cray, but that was an American (or Western) only scene because this scene did not occur in the Japanese version. Capcom of America chose to create and put in this scene because of retarded American censoring that removed a few scenes found only in the Japanese version. These Japanese version scenes were comic relief and harmless, but for some reason, America believed these scenes could damage a child's mind. One of the removed scenes for the Western version was when Ryu decided to try and peek on Nina and Ursula when they were bathing. There was no nudity shown and the dialogues in this scene were about as naughty as anything any kid could watch in regular sitcom comedy shows such as Friends, Married With Children, and Three's Company to name a few. Imagine the twists in a Breath of Fire game if there is another love interest for Ryu... or even for Nina since she is usually an attractive girl (save for Dragon Quarter since she's too young).

  2. I loved this game so damn much, even if I never got around to finishing it. There were multiple ways to interpret just about any event in the story - is that one healer a drug addict, or does she just have chronic symptoms? - or even whether or not there's a love triangle in the first place. Byuu being a silent protagonist manages to compliment that where a relative chatterbox wouldn't. Particularly in regards to the love triangle.

    Also, I don't remember Matelite (either one of us is wrong, or we played different versions of the translation) needing face makeup to be a comical character, nor do I remember Steiner buying time by destroying bridges. I don't think I need to say which is more awesome.

    Okay, they're both great. But Inspire is so much cooler than Shock.

    Honestly, the only thing stopping me from playing this game front-to-back right now is my current Star Ocean 3 trophy hunting. And my upcoming introduction to Mass Effect. This is certainly coming next.

    1. Oh come on, man, the self-important princess-protecting mildly hostile often cranky guy in the excessively heavy armor doesn't remind you at ALL of Steiner?

    2. I intended to suggest nothing of the sort. That my only notable differences are face makeup and structural damage speak much towards them being similar in the fundamentals.

      I'm just saying Inspire is more AWESOME!!! than Shock.

      And JRPGs need more Cross Knights.

  3. Fair enough, sir, fair enough. Apologies for misinterpretation, heh.

  4. I think the fact that it was a somewhat realistic conclusion to the love triangle and the fact that I was young and loved byuu to death made me forever hate YoYo and Palebutt for betraying Byuu like that. Not only that, but the way they rub it in after by being all touchy and mushy in front of Byuu just made me wanna Call Salamando and roast em both. But I must say tho, SPOILER , when Palebutt gets assassinated in the end.. I was like HELL YEA, too bad there wasn't anything that showed YoYo trying to get back with Byuu only to have him refuse her slutty arse. Also hated how they kinda forced you to be nice to her, I know on all my play throughs after beating it once I pretty much tried to be as mean as possible to her lol.

  5. Such an awesome game, one of my favorite snes games of all time (up there with Chrono Trigger). Absolutely loved the game when I stumbled upon it as a random fan translation. It's absolutely terrible it doesn't get more attention.

  6. Old as this post is, I would like to comment that, having beaten the game as many times as I have, I always felt that Byuu was never really romantically interested in Yoyo. All of his answers to her are rather lukewarm, and his own friends seem to think he's more of a weird draogn-obsessed person anyway.

    1. Well, I will certainly give you that Byuu's interest in dragons does seem to be implied to be his highest priority in the game, both a little by others' comments and by the vision he has if you have the dragon dung...

      Good lord I can't believe that was an actual thing.

      Anyway, that said, I think the game definitely wants you to believe that Byuu is, indeed, romantically interested in Yoyo. The atmosphere of their interactions implies it, the same friends you mention make many remarks over the course of the game that acknowledge and presume such an interest, and the remarks made by Yoyo herself at points recognize (apologetically) Byuu's feelings for her. That combined with the flashbacks involving the little ceremony of pledging to be with one another, and the fact that the ceremony IS inextricably linked to romantic love since it's later one which Yoyo goes through with Palpaleos, pretty much cements that Byuu is to some significant degree in love with her in my mind.

  7. " But as we all know, my interpretation is always right anyways, so let's begin."
    Don't know why, but that kind of joke never gets old for me.