When SEGA announced that they were discontinuing the Dreamcast in 2001, like many SEGA fans I was in a daze. What competitor console would I buy to continue to enjoy SEGA games? How could I keep up on SEGA news with the cancellation of the fantastic Official SEGA Dreamcast Magazine? With the knowledge that certain internal development teams would be shifting focus to specific consoles, fans had to decide if they were to become a Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo owner (or all three if you were one of those spoiled kids). As a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog and Jet Set Radio, the decision was clear. I was to become an Xbox owner. SEGA told fans that Sonic would be multi-platform, despite Sonic Team’s Nintendo leanings, and that Smilebit would be releasing games to the Xbox. These were deciding factors for sure, but what really tipped me over the edge into pledging allegiance to the Xbox was Xbox Nation, the independent Xbox magazine.
Xbox Nation was, and quite possibly is, one of my favorite non-SEGA gaming magazines. For starters, the team behind Xbox Nation (or XBN, as they referred to it as) was largely made up of former Official Dreamcast Magazine (ODCM) staff including Simon Cox, Evan Shamoon and Greg Orlando. XBN had the same emphasis on excellent graphic design and large screenshots that ODCM had, and even carried over the same voice of ODCM. It’s difficult to describe, but I always thought of ODCM and XBN’s voice as the ideal video game fan, knowledgable but not annoying, and cool enough to not be perceived as a nerd or a poser.
But there was something XBN had that ODCM did not have, which was independence. While Simon Cox assured us that being an official SEGA magazine did not stop them from speaking the truth when we spoke with him in 2013, Microsoft was a whole other company entirely. I would have to guess that had XBN been an official magazine we would not have seen articles that blatantly lay out just how bad Xbox was being perceived in Japan, and covers dedicated to non-Microsoft games. XBN did not hide their SEGA allegiance, as the first issue’s cover story was not a Microsoft title but rather SEGA’s Jet Set Radio Future! Issue 2 featured Namco’s Dead to Rights, and issue 3 – today’s focus – featured Smilebit’s Panzer Dragoon Orta.
XBN’s preview, which we’re featuring in full below, was an impressive eight pages long, featuring a bevy of screenshots, a preview, a developer interview with Smilebit and former Team Andromeda staff, and a series retrospective featuring a short chronology of the series. So transport yourself back to the summer of 2002 and enjoy this classic SEGA article by XBN freelance writer Jason Brookes!