Panzer Dragoon Saga
Panzer Dragoon Saga is known by
most of the people who visit RPGamer, but a physical copy has been seen
by but a small percentage of those people, let alone actually played.
It would have been bad enough for the game to simply be released on the
Saturn, but the production of English-language copies was in keeping
with the rest of the games released outside Japan late in the system's
lifespan: abysmal. Paying less than $100 for a copy of this game today
is staggeringly unlikely, but there are plenty of incredibly rare games
that aren't worth the eBay prices they command (Custer's Revenge
and Bubble Bath Babes come to mind), except to collectors who
regard them as investments. Panzer Dragoon Saga comes close to
justifying the incredibly high price that must be paid to procure it.
It's telling that, even twelve years
after its release, Panzer Dragoon Saga remains unique among
RPGs. The combat system shares aspects with other games, most notably a
gauge that constantly charges during combat, determing what actions can
be taken at any point during a fight. The game unmistakably feels like
the other Panzer Dragoon games in its juxtaposition of the
differing attacks the dragon and its rider can perform, however, along
with the emphasis on maneuvering to avoid boss attacks rather than take
them head-on. The dragon's attributes can be tinkered with at any time
outside of battle to shift its strengths and weaknesses, enabling
players to shift combat strategy constantly.
The world of the game is a fascinating
concoction, one that will only be familiar to veterans of other Panzer
Dragoon titles. Bizarre enemies and unusual landscapes abound, and
while the Saturn isn't quite up to the task of making the on-foot
segments completely effective on a technical level, they do the job.
The story is a fascinating one, not startlingly original in the scheme
of great plots, but nevertheless well-told, and it treads ground not
usually seen in video game RPGs. Like so much else about the game, its
music also feels otherworldly, with compositions that use
instrumentation not often heard.
The odds against an RPG sequel to the
game have dimmed a little with the announcement of Project
Draco;, which appears to show Sega willing to give the series
another shot after Panzer Dragoon Orta's sales disappointment.
Yukio Futatsugi, leader of the Team Andromeda that created the game,
joked about what he would like to do with the series before finishing:
"I'm saying this now, but if the opportunity came I'd be more serious
about it. But if my wish were to come true, I would be allowed to
create a sequel to Panzer Dragoon before I die."source.
not mention is the possibility of that sequel being an
RPG, however. Getting Sega to budget a new shooter is more than anyone
expected for years, and an RPG is only likely to happen if Project
Draco sells well, not exactly a good bet to make. It's truly a
shame, as Panzer Dragoon Saga II on a console with the power to
fully realize its otherwordly feel would be unforgettable. Thus spake Mike Moehnke
Panzer Dragoon Saga holds a
really special place for me, as that one game I could just never get, but finally did recently. I suppose it's best to start from the
begining though. The Panzer Dragoon
series started off with two very good on-rails shooters, set in a
unique post-apocalyptic world with some elements of fantasy thrown in.
It was a strange setting, with a fake language in cut-scenes and great
music to give the setting a real strange (in a good way) feel to it.
You wanted to know more about this world as you flew along, and being
short games because of their action genre, you wanted more of them. Panzer Dragoon 2 was somewhat
revolutionary in a lot of ways, letting you unlock all sorts of options
to mess around with the game world, and had a few branching paths to
make sure replaying the game wasn't a bore. I don't think I originally
had much interest in the games, but my parents got them for me, and boy
am I glad they did. These games are special, one of those rare
instances where a game or game series just blow you away in every way
possible. What kid wouldn't want a game that lets you fly around
a dragon blasting away at monsters and air ships and the like? The
choice to do it in a sci-fi setting is what makes it really special
though. So what could Sega do to top this?
I think I first heard about Panzer Dragoon Saga in a game
magazine, perhaps Game Informer? These were the early days of the
internet, when many people were still using AOL, and magazines were
still the best place to get info about new games (56k and quality
images don't go together!). I can't remember whether I was excited for
the idea of turning this great on-rails shooting series into an RPG, or very apprehensive about it. Regardless, I would have to say the idea of
an RPG based on the series was at the very least interesting.
What we ended up
getting was one of the most amazing and finely crafted games of all
time. I don't know what black magic Team Andromeda used, but somehow they were
able to capture the essence of epic aerial battles from the previous
games, and managed to capture the same feel in turn based random
encounters. This is all wrapped up in a fantastic story, beautiful full motion video, and exploration of finely crafted 3D dungeons. The
closest thing I can compare it to is how the Paper Mario games expertly place
the essence of Mario into an RPG. Only during brief excursions into towns do you leave the Dragon, which never last too long, and
provide a nice break from the more adventurous sections. Though I will
admit the graphics haven't aged as well as other games from that era, I
think it is still the best looking Saturn game, and pushed the machine
to incredible levels.
The game also has a
fantastic sense of pace, you never feel like there's too much battling,
exploring a town, or cinemas, and it keeps you interested from start to
finish. Though the game is mostly linear, and what some would call
short (around 21 hours or so), the length is right for the game. Many
RPGs these days, and even from back in the late 90's, are far too long, and Panzer Dragoon Saga knew how to
tell its story at the perfect length. Panzer
Saga was the "Final
Fantasy VII" of the Saturn, the difference, sadly, being that no
one played it. These words are spoken by Mike Apps
Can a new game happen?
The Original (and only)
Back | Next »