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.