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Panzer Dragoon Saga (SEGA Saturn)

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Written by  :  MasterMegid (897)
Written on  :  Aug 03, 2008
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Summary

The End Of The Saga

The Good

Released in 1998, Panzer Dragoon Saga, was to be the final chapter of the series. It was also the last hurrah for the Sega Saturn.

The Panzer Dragoon series, created during the Saturn’s reign. Were “on the rails” shooters. In which a chosen human gets to ride a dragon, and do battle with a corrupt Empire, all set in and interesting and highly detailed post-apocalyptic world. Utilizing the dragon’s laser attacks as well as the human’s gun, you take on all sorts of enemies, not unlike the arcade classic Space Harrier. Each stage ends in a huge boss battle, some ten years before fan boy favorite “Shadow of the Colossus”. The second game Panzer Dragoon Zwei, added RPG like elements such as the dragon being able to level up.

With Panzer Dragoon Saga, or Panzer Dragoon Azel, as it’s known in Japan,(I think the English title is better-MM-) the next step was taken, and it became a full fledged RPG.

In Panzer Dragoon Saga, you assume the role of Edge whom is currently stationed as a guard out in the frontier. Edge wants to join the academy at the Imperial City. As fate would have it Edge has a far greater destiny ahead of him. An Imperial officer, Craymen, has gone rouge. He attacks the installation that Edge is guarding. Killing all of his friends and his mentor. Craymen also makes off with a strange girl found among the ancient rubble at the excavation site.

Edge is found and rescued by a dragon. With his new found power he knows what he must do, he must destroy Craymen and exact his revenge. Yet nothing is what it seems in the world of Panzer Dragoon.

The story of Panzer Dragoon Saga, is filled with lots of twists and turns, and new revelations that always manage to keep things interesting. The game also manages to tie in the previous games into the overall story arc. From finding a journal detailing the events of Panzer Dragoon Zwei, to exploring some of the same areas. And finding the ruins of the first empire encounter in Panzer Dragoon.(Who says that it is better when an RPG franchise uses a new universe each installment?-MM-)

There are two ways to explore in Panzer Dragoon Saga. When on your dragon you are free to fly around the areas in 360 degrees. No more rail restrictions. Dragon control is very fluid, either with the standard Saturn controller or the 3D controller. You also do battle on your dragon more on that later. You also get to explore on foot. In which you visit towns, talk to NPCS, find items, etc. You can also investigate just about everything around you picking up tidbits here and there about the fascinating world of Panzer Dragoon.

Combat is done while riding your dragon. There is no on foot combat, as interesting as that would have been. In battle you can shoot Edge’s gun, fire lasers from the dragon, or try to get a better position on your enemies thus gaining a tactical advantage. Just as you could in the previous games. The berserk system has changed the most. In previous games you had to wait for you bar to fill before you could unleash your attack. And there was only one berserk available. In PDS, you have BP or battle points that can be used for the special attacks. And there are many available. Some earned by leveling up, others must be earned doing quests. Or in one case by being nice to your dragon, thus bonding with it. You will want every berserk you can get a hold of, as they will be very useful during boss fights or if you happen to get surrounded by tough monsters.

As in Panzer Dragoon Zwei, you can also change dragon forms. In PDS you can do this when ever you need to. You also get your dragon form upgraded every few level ups.

Some forms will give you an advantage in combat. Making fights somewhat strategic. Furthermore some enemies are immune to certain effects like shots from Edge’s gun this also adds some strategy.

PDS is not a very long game, only about 20-25 hours. But I find this preferable to RPGS that take 80 hours and upwards as the shorter RPGS have more replay value. Some callous reviewers have said that PDS is to easy. My question is what genre have they been playing? As very few JRPGS are difficult. Furthermore, I have played countless RPGS and had a spot of trouble with some of the later bosses in PDS, so I am thinking that this individual did not even finish PDS. Probably some fan boy loser…but I digress.

The graphics in Panzer Dragon Saga are very good. Everyone always says that the Saturn could not do 3D, yet take one look at this game and tell me that again. This game looks better than most Playstation 3D games! The only real weakness in the draw distance, not uncommon in the 32 bit era.

The voice acting is good in PDS. The only downside is that it is only in Panzerese and then changes to Japanese. Showing just how much depth Sega put into the Panzer Dragoon world, they even created a langue for the game, not unlike city speak in Bladerunner, Panzerese, is a mix of German, Portuguese, Chinese, and so forth. After the opening the game switches to Japanese, if Sega would not spend the cash for English voices, than I wish that they would have kept it entirely in Panzerese, as it helps create the illusion of an otherworldly place.

As I have come to expect from the Panzer Dragoon series the music is great. Simply is one of best scores every done from and RPG. No clichéd RPG themes here. Just beautifully composed music. And the battle theme does not get annoying like in many RPGS.

The Bad

I don’t now if this a valid complaint, but the fact that Sega no longer makes these games really pisses me off. There is so much they could do, like set a game in the heart of the empire. Or a game that takes place before the apocalypse.

How did this game franchise not sell the Saturn? Yet claptrap like Resident Evil sold the Playstation, it makes no sense.

Back to the game, my main complaint has to be that the game is not done fully in Panzerese.

The Bottom Line

Overall, Panzer Dragoon Saga is one of my favorite JRPGS. Even if it is not a “real” RPG, whatever that means. And it is a fine ending to the franchise, with Panzer Dragoon Orta as a epilogue of sorts. Panzer Dragoon Saga has everything that JRPGS fans claim that they are looking for in the genre. It also was a fitting end for the Saturn as it ended with a bang, just as it started.