Posted on August 19th, 2009 3 comments
In the 22nd century, mankind built a set of outer-space colonies at one of the Lagrange points between the Earth and its sun. The three colonies — Satellite Base, Land 1 and Land 2 — was quickly filled with a large population of orbiting immigrants, building a new society and a true “second Earth.”
Several years later, however, a mysterious, mutated life form escaped out of a Land 2 biochemical laboratory. The life form quickly spread across all of Land 2, killing countless citizens and mutating nearly all the plants and animals. It was no accident. Three of the five boardmembers of ISIS — the private firm running the colonies and its associated space ports — were staging a coup d’etat of the entire complex, and the mutant outbreak was only the beginning.
Calling themselves the Bionoid Three, the three boardmembers — Oregi, Ledesma and Weber — formed an army of mutants they called the Creature Force. Tania, one of the remaining uncorrupted boardmembers, was quickly captured by Creature soldiers, but Togo, the sole ISIS leader left, formed a resistance group and declared full-scale war against the mutants.
All this was going on unbeknownst to anyone on Earth, which had sent two investigation teams to the colonies without a response. Now Jin is leading expedition number three to Land 2. Will he survive?
Lagrange Point is arguably the most large-scale RPG ever released for the Famicom. Just Breed is larger in size and Konami’s own MADARA was cut from the same cloth, but I think Lagrange wins over both for its complex SF plot, its well-detailed graphics (the enemies, at the least, are easily SNES-caliber) and the unique, trippy sound the onboard FM chip provided.
Much of Lagrange’s plot was worked out as part of “Game Kobo,” a reader-participation feature launched to celebrate the 100th issue of Tokuma Shoten’s Family Computer Magazine. Famimaga and Konami solicited all kinds of stuff from readers for the game, from enemy character designs and dialogue for random colony residents to music, plot details, and even the name of the game itself.
This was just at the point in Japanese game history where creators outside of the industry were beginning to contribute to games. Character designs were handled by Fujihiko Hosono, at the time a kid’s manga artist but now more well-known internationally for the much more mature (and interesting) Gallery Fake. Two members of REBECCA, an ’80s rock band in Japan, worked with Konami Kukeiha Club on the soundtrack. The resulting game easily won Famimaga’s FC game of the year in 1991, and even if the magazine wasn’t so directly involved with its development, you could see why they made the choice.
The above video leads to part 1 of the first TAS I’ve seen for the game, taking you through all the prettier parts of it in just over and hour. Part 2 and Part 3 are also available. In order to get around the onerous level-grinding you’d normally need to equip the higher-power weapons in the game, this TAS takes advantage of an interesting bug. In battle, the bug’s triggered by confusing an enemy capable of landing several attacks in a turn; if this confused enemy kills a fellow enemy with attack no. 1, subsequent attacks in the chain will kill some unseen, nonexistent enemy that, for some reason, gives you $9,999,999 and about 40 experience levels in one go. Go about 12 and a half minutes into Part 1 to see it in action.