Panzer Dragoon

Panzer Dragoon
4
Game Name: Panzer Dragoon
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): SEGA
Developer(s): Team Andromeda
Genre(s): Rail Shooter
Release Date: 30th August 1995
Serial Number: MK81009-50
Region: PAL

Panzer Dragoon is one of Sega’s greatest franchises, which happens to be almost exclusive to the Saturn, and that’s probably the reason why it was never as popular and succesful as it deserved to be.

Panzer Dragoon Opening FMV ScreenshotThe game is set in a quite original universe, the action takes place in a post apocalyptic world a few thousands years in the future where humans have to fight hard to survive.
The “old civilization” remains in pieces but it’s not the big bad nuclear bomb that’s responsible for it.
Although the reason was similar, terrible wars which used destructive technologies reduced the planet to a wasteland.

As well as terrible weapons, the ‘Ancients’ could also create various creatures and monsters for war, or practical uses. These creatures survived the world’s downfall and now they remain as the humans enemies.

Eventually the remains of ancient technologies were used to create weapons, battleships, vehicles and more.
The faction called “The Empire” uses those weapons to gain domination over the planet.

Panzer Dragoon Gameplay Screen Shot

That’s a brief explanation of PD’s universe & story.
In game you take the role of Keil, who eventually becomes the rider of the blue dragon known as Solo Wing.

Your mission is to stop your main enemy Dark Dragon (original name don’t you think?) form reactivating an ancient ruin, The Tower (another original name) which holds massive potential for destruction…

 

PD is a rail shooter, you fly on the predetermined path and shoot enemies on your way.
At first it looks like a 3D version of Space Harrier but PD has a little twist, you can shoot in every direction not just straight ahead, opponents approach from everywhere and you can rotate your view to shoot enemies on your side’s and behind (you’re also given a handy radar).

There are two weapons at your disposal, a regular laser gun and a lock-on laser, by holding the button you aim at few enemies (up to 8) and release it to see bunch of lasers taking them down. That’s pretty much what all the gameplay is about.

Panzer Dragoon Sega Saturn ScreenshotThe game is divided into 7 ‘episodes’ (plus one available through a cheat).
After fighting the boss at the end of each episode the game shows your ‘shot down ratio’ and gives you additional credits depending on your performance.

Fortunately you don’t die from one shot, you have a large life bar so the whole adventure will not be ridiculously hard… well, at least the first few tries won’t be. After a few playthroughs and completing the game on hard won’t be that difficult.

That’s the biggest problem of Panzer Dragoon, lack of replayability.

Visuals in PD are still nice for a first generation 3D title, but it’s not the quality of the graphics that matters, it’s their style.
The design of levels and creatures is really original and superb, PD’s world definetely looks interesting, you’ll meet various enemies from battleships of different shapes and sizes, mammoth-size sandworms, to all kinds of mosters including a really epic final boss…

Panzer Dragoon Gameplay Sega Saturn Screen ShotAs for levels, you’ll fly through the city ruins scattered across the sea, desert packed with mighty sandworms, tunnels dwelled inside the cave, and above the almost limitless forest while struggling with the Empire’s army…
I have to mention that video clips are of really good quality for a Saturn game, especially when it comes to how smooth they are, its almost 10-minute long intro is one of my all time favorites, and made a huge impression on me when I saw it the first time.

I always praised the PD’s soundtrack which’s one of the best among all Saturn games, expect to hear some really great music (mostly electronic but you’ll also find some beautiful, “classical” tunes) that perfectly matches the games’ atmosphere, without it, half of the PD’s “magic” would perish.

I mentioned the game doesn’t provide any bonus features, but there’s something that boosts PD’s lastability… cheats!
The hidden episode I mentioned that can be unlocked with a code, the Episode 0, is a sort of survival where you shoot randomly appearing enemies to regain life that’s slowly declining.
You can also via cheat sacces alternative versions of lasers (more powerful and cool looking), level selection screen, option to play as dragon or rider only (the latter one is called Space Harrier Mode) and few others.

Maybe not the greatest Saturn game but it’s mandatory to have it, as well as other Panzer Dragoon titles (if you can afford PD Saga of course).
Panzer Dragoon is one of the few titles that defined the system and started a great series. Classic.

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