Do you mean one of the best selling RPGs from that system that still has a following until now is not a classic because some reviewers didn't like it not being Final Fantasy?
It holds a 74 Metacritic rating. It wasn't just some reviewers, the game was really average. I myself rated the game in the 7s in this site. It sold well, over a million units, because RPGs in general sold well in that era, and there was a massive marketing campaign behind it. A list of RPGs that sold better or comparable units (over a million):
Final Fantasy Tactics
Dragon Quest/Warrior VII
Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy IX
Tales of Destiny
Arc the Lad,
Star Ocean 2
Arc the Lad 2
It was the golden era of the genre, it wasn't uncommon for JRPGs to sell well. Most complaints weren't about LoD not being FF. Most complaints are about its pedestrian story, and the fact that the game actually tries to be like FF. It was the only 4 disc game that I can recall, that if I wanted to go back to a certain town I had to swap discs, the world map was uninspiring (most games allowed for free roaming over a 3-D world map and LoD didn't), and while did enjoy the combat I could say the same for a dozen other JRPGS that I played during that time.
It has built a cult following though, and it is probably more popular now than it was back when it was released which I guess is impressive, but it really deserved that 7ish score especially when compared to other RPGs of the time.
The fact you think its an average or what it deserves doesn't mean it's not a classic.
Metacritic score is much of an argument as it ever was: none.
I can go on about the game story with you for as long as you want, tell me why is it pedestrian.
About the world map, well, pretty good on can roam in a bunch of nothing in those games, sure there are some secrets you can find here and there, but not having it is also a non issue, its not like it loses anything because of it, actually you don't have many reasons to go back to places most of the times so its not a bother either. I understand you might want it, its ok, but its definitely not a problem.
About the combat, yeah, maybe some here and there can also be interesting like Chrono Trigger or Grandia are also cool but the majority of RPGs where text lists battles and that's it, so you hardly can say it about dozens of rpgs from that time, the same way you are probably making a massive generalization of the story to make me less important you are doing with the combat. Both are excellent and very creative in LoD.
You can see LoD being mentioned quite often from people talking about games from that gen. In fact from that list you passed here the only games more talked about than LoD are the FF trio, and all because of the impact of 7.
If that game is not a classic FF7 would probably be the only single classic JRPG from that decade. Which is not nearly true by any means.
FF8 would likely have performed similarly to LoD and Chrono Cross, was it not FF7 sucessor.
FF9 is fantastic, and sadly sleeps in the shadow of FF7.
It's ok if you think its a 7, or even 90% of the reviews had given it a 2 or something back, I'm not disputing personal tastes here, the point is, why is it not a classic?
It sold very well back then, and people are still talking about it a lot to this day, with it getting a lot of love from them, so why is it not a classic?