One of SEGA’s most loved games is Panzer Dragoon Saga, it is also one that probably hasn’t been played by many. The game is pretty rare and received a very limited release. We see how SEGA could bring back a Panzer Dragoon RPG to modern home consoles.
The Will of the Ancients
Panzer Dragoon had 3 games developed by the original team, known as Team Andromeda. The first two games were rail shooters, first one named Panzer Dragoon, second Panzer Dragoon II Zwei. The last game the team created before they split was Panzer Dragoon Saga. All three games came out on the SEGA Saturn.
The first Panzer Dragoon was one of the few games to make the launch of the Saturn, since it had a surprise launch to keep up with the competition. You play as Keil Fluge, (no name in the American version) a hunter. In the the game, there’s a constant battle with humans and biologically engineered weapons. In the time frame of the game, humans have brought back some organization, having small tribes and villages. The humans known as the imperials found ancient technology to push back the threats, but the power got to them and they became corrupt…
While you are flying with your bipedal creatures known as Coolia, hunting in a canyon, your group is attacked by crab-like creatures known as Burrowers that jump from under the earth. After you chase them and kill one, the second one goes into an ancient looking complex, you follow it inside and that is where you find the blue dragon.
The imperials want the dragon for their own, thus an incredible franchise is born. The game is a rail shooter, probably one of the best. You’re given 360 control of the camera, allowing for some intense shooting matches.
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei is a sequel in the sense that it came out a year after the first game, and says it’s a sequel on the cover. But story wise it’s a prequel. This game takes place thirty years before the events of the first game.
Zwei has you controlling a young man named Lundi, who lives in a small village in the wastelands. He raised a dragon, which he has named Lagi. He has been hiding and taking care of it since birth; if the people in his village discovered the dragon it would have been put to death. One day his village is destroyed by a huge ship using ancient technology.
Lundi and Lagi are the only survivors, Lundi decides to ride the dragon to seek vengeance for his village. In the ‘history of Panzer Dragoon’ world, he is known as the first to ride a dragon.
The gameplay for this title was almost the same as the first game, since it was a rail shooter, but really expanded on it. This game introduced multiple paths, having the dragon take other forms depending on what you do and a new impressive “berserk” attack.
Team Andromeda really shocked everyone with the last installment to their Panzer Dragoon game. Called Azel: Panzer Dragoon RPG in Japan, Panzer Dragoon Saga in the West. They turned their acclaimed rail shooter into an excellent RPG. No, not just excellent, one of the best in the genre.
The game brought with it a innovative battle system that used swooping camera angles to make it feel more cinematic. It came out in 1998 and was one of the first games at the time to do this. The game also had exploration bits that would make modern JRPGs envious. I don’t know why modern JRPG’s downplay exploration!
The game takes place 30 years after the events of the first game, the Imperial has a ton of dig sites looking for ancient technology. In the game you play as a mercenary named Edge, who is a guard at the dig sites. After the site is attacked by a renegade Imperial commander named Craymen and his followers, everything gets destroyed and only Edge is left alive.
Edge wants to avenge his fallen comrades. That is when a Dragon comes out, Edge climbs on top and sets forth his path for revenge. Crayman is after a girl who was kept asleep for thousands of years with ancient technology. Edge wants to find out the truth…
Life after Team Andromeda
Even though the original team disbanded, five years after the release of Panzer Dragoon Saga, SEGA revisited the franchise, and this time released it on a system that wasn’t the SEGA Saturn. Actually, it wasn’t even a SEGA system. The Microsoft Xbox.
SEGA’s development team called Smilebit took the development duty for this title, the team had members of Team Andromeda and have been known to produce some quality titles like fan favorite Jet Set Radio. They developed and delivered one of the best looking games on Xbox, actually I would consider the game the best looking Xbox title.
The team took the franchise back to its roots, so this one wasn’t an RPG like Panzer Dragoon Saga, instead it was a rail shooter. Lots of the formula that made the first two games a success was brought back and with the power of the Xbox, lots of new enhancements where made. The game received a ton of critical praise from reviewers and was one of the reasons why I (and many SEGA fans at the time) bought an Xbox.
Panzer Dragoon Orta takes place a few decades after the events of Panzer Dragoon Saga. The Empire has risen once again, taking control. The Imperials have gotten and harnessed the power of bio-technologies and made dragons of their own, known as Dragonmares. They have taken continents and divided nations.
In a society that calls themselves Seekers, there’s a female prisoner named Orta. Her whole life was spent living in chains. She was to live out her life there, forever. But one night the Empire arrived; they used their Dragonmares to take over the city. But before she was captured, a Dragon came for her, as she climbed on the dragons back, she made her escape from the Empire and the city that imprisoned her.
Microsoft wants to Kinect the series
SEGA hasn’t really talked about the Panzer Dragoon series much, but that doesn’t mean other companies aren’t interested. This last Tokyo Game Show, Microsoft announced a title called “Project Draco” for Xbox 360’s add-on called Kinect. The game is being headed by Yukio Futatsugi, who worked on past Panzer Dragoon games for SEGA. They released the above image… making everyone think this is a new spiritual successor to the Panzer Dragoon series.
Not much is known about the game other than it has you flying Dragons, a stable of the Panzer Dragoon series. There is little to no information, but media have already made the connection to Panzer Dragoon, so much so that Microsoft has gone out and said that it’s not copying it.
Now is the time for a new Saga
I think most people, including me, are ready for SEGA to take a full jump into the JRPG train. I know SEGA is getting their toes wet by publishing titles like Resonance of Fate, but in all seriousness, we want a SEGA made title.
This generation really needs an outstanding JRPG, I think the highest rated one this generation is Lost Odyssey and I seriously think, if SEGA went all out, they could do a better one. Panzer Dragoon Saga had way better concepts, in terms of exploration and combat than Lost Odyssey and even Square’s new Final Fantasy XIII.
This generation is ripe for the picking, now SEGA just has to deliver the goods and make a great JRPG with exploring elements that’s fun and stands out. Panzer Dragoon has a more interesting wasteland and tribal setting than Fallout 3, and deep written history about the world. Its all there to continue.
Now that Microsoft is doing ‘their version’ of Panzer Dragoon, SEGA could show them how it’s done by delivering an epic JRPG in the style of Panzer Dragoon Saga.