You might assume that Panzer Dragoon only had 4 games in the series: the original Panzer Dragoon, Zwei, Saga, and Orta. That’s understandable, as these were the only major releases in the franchise. However, Panzer Dragoon does have a few skeletons in the closet. However, what I’m going to show you today, well, you may wish I had never revealed these secret games to you.
Our descent into Dragoon’s shadier side begins innocently enough, literally, on the Sega Game Gear, with a game called Panzer Dragoon Mini. This game was only realeased in Japan, as part of the “Kids Gear” line-up. The “Kid’s Gear” was Sega’s attempt of re-branding the Game Gear in Japan, where it didn’t fare well compared to the US and Europe, and was targeted far more towards kids. It even had a special version that was released that had a candy compartment! This version of the Game Gear is quite rare though, so good luck finding one, but here is a picture in the meantime.
Anyways, this game was released late in the console’s life-cycle, and is generally one of the rarer titles for the system. So, you may ask how you take a game with such a detailed, rich world as Panzer Dragoon and bring it to the Game Gear? You turn it into Space Harrier, and take away all the graphical charm, and instead of being a rider, you just play as a chibi-Dragoon. The game looks really basic, runs kind of slow, and you just have a shoot button. No Berserk attacks, no lock-on laser, just a pew-pew shooter. On top of this, the game is super short, at only four stages. Generally speaking, its a pretty shallow experience, and even as something aimed towards young kids, its not quite a great entry. Surely though, Panzer Dragoon wouldn’t have a lower moment, would it?
Yep, this happened. Somehow, Panzer Dragoon was a big enough hit in the US, that just a few months after its launch in the US, when the R-Zone was coming out and Sega licensed many of its franchise’s for the game, they were confident that Panzer would be a great title to launch with the R-Zone. For those that may not be familiar, the R-Zone was basically like any of those Tiger Electronics games, but instead of just being little handheld games, this was supposed to be projected onto a piece of plastic, in a “VR” kind of way, as it was meant to compete with Nintendo’s Virtual Boy. Both systems failed tremendously, but regardless, many Sega franchises were put out on the R-Zone, and Panzer was one of them. Basically, it had 2 parts: One where you were shooting enemies down from a POV perspective of the Rider, and one where you were dodging enemies riding the dragoon in the open. It was just okay, but is generally considered to be one of the better R-Zone games, if that title is worth anything. It was also eventually released as a standalone game, more like a normal Tiger Electronics game.
Of course, games aren’t the only thing in the closet of the Dragoon. Would you know, Panzer Dragoon actually had an anime special? Yes, an OVA (Original Video Animation – think “direct-to-video” in America, but without the negative connotation behind it) was released, that was based on the first game’s story, though slightly altered. Of course, having just said OVAs usually can be of good quality, Panzer Dragoon does not pan out that way. The animation isn’t that good, and it also uses some CG in certain parts, and it clashes quite badly with the normal hand-drawn animation. The soundtrack is very weak compared to the gorgeous soundtracks of the series. Also, well only specifically about the english release, the voice acting is nails on a chalkboard bad. If you really are a hardcore collector of Panzer Dragoon, you can find the VHS of it for cheap, as it hasn’t been re-released since ADV put it out way back in 1998.
So, there you have it, a quick glance at the lesser-known pieces of Panzer Dragoon media. Well none of it may be very good, it doesn’t detract from how amazing the Team Andromeda’s main series games are. Every great series has its weak moments, and it only makes the amazing moments all the better. Its also a great way to find the really hardcore fans. The ones hoping for a Blu-Ray re-release of the Panzer Dragoon anime.Ad: