The Lagoon Amusement park, operating out of Farmington, Utah, is the sort of thing that counts as a "staple" in a community. It's a small, family owned amusement park that recently celebrated it's 100th year (though, technically, it's much older than even that.

Located about 15 minutes north of Salt Lake City by I-15 lies Lagoon. It's on it's own street, aptly called "Lagoon Drive". It has ample parking (even if they have to stick you in the employee lot) at $5 USD a vehicle, or you can park your car in "downtown" Farmington and take a free Trolley to the gates (though entry into the park itself will still cost you). Entry into the park with full unlimited use of the rides (an "All day Ride Passport" as it's called) will run you a little bit under $30, with a season pass clocking in at about $70 (when purchasing 2 or more). Their main informational telephone is 801-451-8000 (USA country code) where you'll hear a recording of all the parks' vital statistics.

Lagoon began it's life a Lake Park Terrace, a resort built on the shores of Great Salt Lake/Farmington Bay in 1886. It's was mostly a meeting place with live music (what else!), dancing, swimming, roller skating, bowling and a merry-go-round as well as other outdoorsy things that upstanding citizens of the late 1800's were apt to do.

A potential disaster struck in the mid 1890's when the Great Salt Lake underwent one of it's cycles of recession and Lake Park Terrace was suddenly 200 yards from the water. To remedy this, the entire meager resort was moved inland around an equally meager lake, Lake Lagoon. Most of everything could continue there, and the the park began to get a reputation in the surrounding areas as the "place to be" to see live shows and be with friends. The "Lake" was later dropped and it because, simply, Lagoon.

As the appetite of the visitors increased, the park had to offer more and varied functions. The predecessor of the Log Flume, "Shoot the Chutes" was put in in 1906, as well as the elegantly carved Merry-Go-Round which, 96 years later, is still in daily operation. The music gazebo was pulled down and a full-size stage was erected where, for almost 40 years Lagoon was the place to see live shows -- Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Elvis Presly and even The Rolling Stones were some of the acts seen on the stage.

In the late 40's the park was bought by the Freed Family, whereupon, in 1953, half of the park promptly burned to the ground. Most of the originally midway was lost as well as the stage, though the most important facets, the Merry-Go-Round and (most of) the White Roller coaster were spared. It was later rebuilt and reopened in 1957 with it's focus changed from resort-type lounging about to rides and other "active" amusements.

To replace the incinerated stage, "Patio Gardens" was build and it would serve as a venue for such acts as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and even the Three Stooges. More progressive acts like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones and The Doors also appeared here before it was changed into a roller-skating Rink and then into a Video Arcade in the late 70's.

More and more rides were added over the next decades: The Colassus/Fire Dragon Roller coaster (which for a shining 3 months was fastest coaster west of the Mississippi), The Wild Mouse (which went away in 1989 and returned in 1997), The Tidal Wave, The Flying Carpet (which was little more than a death-trap before it was torn down in 1999... but it was still so much Fun), Skyscraper (the second tallest ferris wheel in North America, The Samurai, The Rocket and too many others for me to remember. In 1976 the ajoining "living museum", Pioneer Village, was incorporated into the park on the east side.

Lagoon has been a staple of the local community for several reasons besides being the only park within driving distance. It has legal dispense to hire 15-year-olds for part time work (because theirs seasonal) and because it brings revenue into the surrounding community. During seasonal operation times (April through October), the park employs an average of 650 workers, though during the off season that number dwindles to a year round skeleton crew of about 100.

The Ruling Family, The Freeds, acquired the park under somewhat shady circumstances in the late 40's, circumstances which continue today: issues like not paying property taxes, paying some of the lowest wages in the county and financial mismanagement. The most amusing incident of this is when one of the senior officials, Davey, took the money that was appropriated for renovation of the Rides Department Offices and instead used it all to buy himself a new desk at the tune of $20,000. Yes Dave, I know you deny it, but I do have the proof. Yes, that proof.

The bottom line is that It's a heluva fun (if pricey) place to visit, but if you work there in anything less than an executive capacity, you will be treated like an indentured servant. The majority of the full-time employees are awesome people, but the people in the positions of park-wide power need lessons in, among other things, decorum.

Lagoon is an action role-playing game developed by Zoom Inc. and published by Kemco for the Super Nintendo in 1991. A cursory glance at the game leaves no question as to which moderately successful action RPG released around the same time inspired its inception. Unlike that game, however, Lagoon took its position as a first-generation SNES title as clearance to be subpar.

Story

An RPG without a compelling story is like a porno with a compelling story; that is, it ain't natural. As for Lagoon, Gamespot sets the scene thus: "Lakeland has a drinking problem." Indeed, some evil rotten forces are afoot in this bucolic kingdom and, as so many evil rotten forces are wont to do, they raise all kinds of hell. They accomplish this feat by somehow contaminating Lakeland's water supply. A Wise Old ManTM entreats a young hero named Nasir to find out why. Nasir can best be desrcribed as the  red-headed stepchild of Link and Jim, Hydlide's resident brown banana. Speaking of...

Gameplay

While the homage to the Legend of Zelda series continues unabated in the gameplay, Lagoon is actually more reminiscent of yet another loathsome turd of an RPG, Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (more on that game in another node). Since said game wouldn't come into being for another year there were no grounds for a theft of intellectual property lawsuit. Nasir is a feeble meatsack to the various baddies. And, much like in Hydlide, he is not even remotely close to being able to rectify this. It seems he and Jim shop at the same bargain bin armoury, because Nasir is packing a mighty spork (or dog doo stick, as it were). Natch, his attack range is pitiful, and to make matters worse most of the monsters flit about so erratically you'd think they'd just partaken of a healthy dose of meth.

Hmm...the enemies. I'll admit I didn't get far enough in the game to see the entire bestiary, but what I did see was enough to convince me that Zoom truly phoned it in. Of course the perennial slimes reprise their Hydlide role as the obligatory entry level beasties. And once again the assholes require multiple hits from Jim Nasir's spork sword to lay them low, which really bogs down the action and makes leveling up extra tedious. Speaking of which, much like in Hydlide leveling up to astronomical proportions is nigh mandatory. And, once again like Hydlide, this will top no one's list of fun activities. Nasir can also regenerate health when standing still but does so at an agonizingly slow rate, and since Nasir takes more hits than a welterweight boxer this further nudges the plug on the gameplay's life support. So yeah, it's no good. In fact, it kind of blows.

Strangely enough, Lagoon does have one redeeming facet of gameplay; so much so in fact that I will go out on a limb and say I'd like to see it in more games. Nasir can craft magic spells by mixing and matching assorted staves and crystals, and executes said spells with a touch of the shoulder buttons. This unique alchemy-esque magic system and ease of casting almost makes up for the other gameplay atrocities. Almost.

Graphics/Sound

The graphics in Lagoon are decent, if a bit pedestrian. Incidentally, they are also reminiscent of yet another game that did not yet exist at the time: Illusion of Gaia. Nothing is sacred anymore. At any rate the graphics are nothing to write home about, but at least they don't add to the already endemic suffering the game inflicts on its victims. The sound is a different animal altogether. Most RPGs have a medieval swords and sorcery theme and a rich orchestral/classical-sounding soundtrack to go with it. On the contrary, the music in Lagoon rocks, quite literally. The score is rife with snare drum, bass, and BADASS guitar. Metallica has nothing on this puppy. It would seem, though, that the soundtrack is exceedingly rare, so anyone wishing to embarrass themselves by headbanging to game music will have to make do with YouTube clips.

Replay value

Lagoon is so underwhelming in its mediocrity that it is totally feasible to see everything it has to offer with a single playthrough. It is also so frustrating to play that it undermines video games' raison d'être: providing a relaxing, leisurely pastime. It is really only suitable as something a person might have on a desert island in the absence of better games. Now this raises a few questions. Many people have lists of things they would be content to have on a desert island, usually books and music and such. So where were you planning on plugging that shit in, o brilliant one? That's what I thought. Plus there's the notion of someone getting marooned at sea with only the clothes on their back and one bad video game. That is how you know it's a bad day. Pro tip: Carry a copy of Final Fantasy VI on your person at all times, just in case. Better grab an extra-long extension cord too while you're at it. And always wear clean underwear. You just never know.

Conclusion

Zoom Inc. Frankensteined the hell out of at least three good RPGs and still managed to end up with something that was less than the sum of its parts. So unless you're a dyed in the wool devotee who loves all games as God loves all his children, you could probably get by without ever experiencing this blasphemous clusterfuck of a game. There wasn't even so much as a quick walk-on appearance by Brooke Shields, and that is a crying shame. I like Ms. Shields, with the big ol' boobies. Alas, I doubt that even boobies could salvage this wreck. 

See it in craptastic action here.

La*goon" (?), n. [It. or Sp. laguna, L. lacuna ditch, pool, pond,lacus lake. See Lake, and cf. Lacuna.] [Written also lagune.]

1.

A shallow sound, channel, pond, or lake, especially one into which the sea flows; as, the lagoons of Venice.

2.

A lake in a coral island, often occupying a large portion of its area, and usually communicating with the sea. See Atoll.

Lagoon island, a coral island consisting of a narrow reef encircling a lagoon.

 

© Webster 1913.

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