Classic SEGA Magazine Corner: Xbox Nation interviews Smilebit’s Panzer Dragoon Orta artists

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As evidenced last month, the unofficial Microsoft Xbox magazine Xbox Nation (XBN) really liked Smilebit. Their premiere issue featured Smilebit’s Jet Set Radio Future, which is surprising given Halo‘s dominance at the time, and their third issue featured a Panzer Dragoon Orta cover and an eight page preview and interview with former Team Andromeda staff. As the magazine continued, XBN kept up on various SEGA and Smilebit titles. In the magazine’s sixth issue they returned to Japan for another Smilebit interview, this time with Panzer Dragoon Orta artists Takashi Iwade and Kentaro Yoshida. Let’s crack open this issue to see what these legends had to say!

The SEGA Five: Places to Go for an Awesome Day in Tokyo-to

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Well, you may have overslept, but there’s still time to catch what looks like a gorgeous day.

The sun, positioned high in a cloudless blue sky, beams down upon the bustling metropolis, its light casting a slight shimmer on the horizon. On most days your schedule’s packed; from time spent racing through the city streets, fighting off the Rokkaku Police and rival gangs, and doing everything in your power to recruit newbies, those in the GG’s rarely have time to slow down and appreciate the scenery.

Today was different, though. Today was your day off, and you figured you’d make the most of it and visit some of your favorite locales in the great city of Tokyo-to for a very different type of adventure from your typical day-to-day craziness.

The merchandise of SEGA’s Jet Set Radio: Collecting that Uki-Uki-Waku-Waku feeling

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Unless you’re a Sonic The Hedgehog fan, collecting merchandise from SEGA franchises can be a difficult venture. Some games simply have little to no merchandise. Bug!, for example, only has a windup figure from SEGA’s Jack in the Box kid’s meal and a few Saturn era promotional pieces. Ecco the Dolphin and Toejam and Earl merchandise is almost non-existent; the former also had a Jack in the Box kid’s meal toy and the latter is just now getting products thanks to the recently funded Kickstarter campaign. Japanese franchises, like Phantasy Star Online, have quite a lot of collectibles but much of it is Japan only and requires importing and ebay hunting. Other franchises, like Shenmue, have had quite a bit of merchandise in the past and in recent years, but good luck finding any of it for a low price point.

Jet Set Radio, meanwhile, has quite a bit to offer fans when it comes to collectibles with several items releasing outside of Japan and many of them being surprisingly affordable. Seeing as Jet Set Radio is one of my favorite franchises, I’ve amassed a small collection over the years which I wanted to show off both because I am incredibly conceited and because I thought it would serve as a nice guide for those wondering what sort of Jet Set Radio merchandise is out there.

Classic SEGA Ads: Jet Grind Radio’s crazy BIG GO! commercial

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Jet Set Radio had a bit of an identity crisis when it reached the West. When the game was first revealed in Japan, few media outlets knew exactly what to make of the game. Was it rhythm game? Was it a Japanese take on Tony Hawk Pro Skater? From the teases we got, it appeared to be a bit of both. The first real concrete explanation of the game came from America’s Official Dreamcast Magazine, which featured an in-depth interview with Smilebit and a preview of the game. While ODCM did a fantastic job with explaining the game and selling many Dreamcast owners on it, myself included, SEGA of America did a less than fantastic job of letting the general public know what the game was all about.

Year of the Developers: The wonderfully unique games of SEGA’s Smilebit

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SEGA’s development team Smilebit existed in the public eye for only four short years, yet in that time they managed to create one of the company’s most unique franchises, revived a classic Saturn franchise, contributed to a long running series of popular Japanese sports titles, and managed to create a few new franchises that have gone on to become true hidden gems. It’s fitting that we follow Team Andromeda Month with Smilebit, as Smilebit was actually the bringing together of the SEGA AM6’s Team Aquila, Team Andromeda, and G9 Team (though some staff ended up moving to United Game Artists). This mix of talent lead to Smilebit being primarily tasked with the Let’s Make series of sports titles, franchises that were largely confined to Japan. Utilizing former Team Andromeda staff, the team spearheaded the latest (and thus far last) Panzer Dragoon game. But what really made Smilebit unique were their new franchises including the Jet Set Radio games, Gunvalkyrie, and Hundred Swords.

All month long we’ll be celebrating Smilebit’s eclectic mix of games, celebrating the classics, the lesser known titles, and the ones that never left Japan. Ready to look back? Let’s go!

Introducing… This is Playstation, a show all about the best 32-Bit system!

Hey dudes! Are you ready for the most radical gaming show this side of 1996? It’s THIS IS PLAYSTATION!

Yes, an all-new show dedicated to the sleekest, most powerful 32-Bit system on the planet; the Sony Playstation! To give this thing quite the test drive, we’re booting up some “RIIIIIIDGE, RACEEEEEEER”! It’s gonna be a gnarly time, with plenty of driving, drifting, and 90’s techno jams! So gear up dudes and dudettes!

This is Playstation is a video series created by AWESOME teenager Liam ‘Radicool’ Ashcroft, aiming to “swood” look at Sony Playstation gaming, all whilst doing some TIGHT skateboard tricks offscreen!

…Now, bow to your new Sony Overlords. This is a hostile takeover. 

My Most Memorable Panzer Dragoon Moments

 

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Image credits: Will of the Ancients

As one of my favorite video game franchises, Panzer Dragoon contains many memorable experiences for me. From my first time flying through the sunken ruins in the original to my final battle in Saga, this series will always hold a unique place in my collection of gaming experiences.

With Team Andromeda Month winding down, I wanted to share some of these experiences. In the interest of keeping things interesting, since most Panzer games tend to end on a high note, I won’t be talking much about final stages or boss battles. I will also be spreading them across all of the games in the franchise in order to avoid favoring any one game too much over the others, as they are all worth talking about. Keep in mind this is a personal list, so feel free to chime in with your own top five moments in the comments!

Classic SEGA Ads: Panzer Dragoon Zwei’s US Commercial

 

You want to know how good Panzer Dragoon Zwei is? It’s apparently caused a nuclear holocaust. Think about that.

From what I’ve seen of them, SEGA Saturn commercials are…weird. Worse yet, they often aren’t really all that appealing. This one in many ways is kind of perfect example of that. Here they have this weird, quirky Japanese rail shooter where you destroy hoards of enemies atop a laser-shooting dragon, and what do they do? Compare dicks with the Playstation.

Of course, bit-measuring and graphics chest thumping was all the rage back in ‘90s video game advertising, but the sad thing about its use here is that it does nothing to make me want the game or the system. The commercial really is just kind of…lazy. It definitely has nothing on Japan’s iconic Segato Sanshiro campaign, or the Xbox’s Panzer Dragoon Orta commercial, which we’ll be getting to next month.

I’ll admit, Zwei is probably a hard game to fit into SEGA of America’s typical commercial formula. It has no attitude to it, and it’s very Japanese. That said, I doubt commercials like this did the Saturn many favors.

To wash the taste of this one out of your mouth, I’ve gone ahead and included the Segato Sanshiro commercial for Panzer Dragoon Saga below. It’s pretty much an abridged version of the Zwei ad, but its still got that awesome theme song!