The History of Sega Japan R&D, Part 2: The 90s Golden Age

THE NUMBER ONE ARCADE ENTERPRISE

The Model series of arcade hardware by Yu Suzuki in co-operation with Lockhead Martin, where the next step in the Sega arcade world. Virtua Fighter sold Sega Saturns in Japan.

The Model series of arcade hardware by Yu Suzuki in co-operation with Lockhead Martin, where the next step in the Sega arcade world. Virtua Fighter sold Sega Saturns in Japan.

In Part 1, we looked at Sega’s origins and their Japanese game development during the 80s. In Part 2 we turn our attention to the golden age, when Sega was fought in the console wars and arcades were in full-force globally. Throughout the 90s, Sega would really grow up and mature and have individual divisions, splitting into arcade and consumer software and product development. Many of the programmers, designers and planners of the 80s and earlier would become managers and producers of their own divisions.
Let’s start Part 2 off with the growth of their AM studios, which is short for Amusement Machine Research and Development.

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!

The Future of Panzer Dragoon

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It’s hard to believe Panzer Dragoon Orta is more than 12 years old. Looking back, Orta has aged incredibly well. Its visuals are still gorgeous and its gameplay still feels just as smooth and polished as it did in 2003. In an age where all sorts of obscure games are seeing digital re-releases and all sorts of franchises and genres are finding new life in the realm of digital, I think it’s a missed opportunity that Panzer Dragoon hasn’t received any sort of new release while digital gaming has been booming.

So today I thought I’d write up an article exploring the many ways Panzer Dragoon could (and should) fit into SEGA’s renewed focus on digital and mobile gaming.

Classic SEGA Magazine Corner: Xbox Nation’s “Chasing the Dragon”, an inside look at Panzer Dragoon Orta

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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.

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Celebrating 20 years of the amazing world of Panzer Dragoon

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Although few gamers nowadays have heard of it, the original Panzer Dragoon trilogy has an almost legendary status among Sega fans, particularly among those that owned a Sega Saturn. What was it, though, that made the Panzer Dragoon games so special? There were many things that the Panzer Dragoon games did right at the time. The game’s 3D graphics were amongst the best seen on the system at the time, and the first two games raised the bar for the on-rail shooter genre. Similarly, Panzer Dragoon Saga’s story, voice acting and battle system were ahead of their time.

Developer Retrospective: We take flight with SEGA’s Team Andromeda

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The SEGA Saturn’s surprise early launch in America is considered one of the most disastrous mistakes in the history of the video game industry. It angered SEGA’s third party publishers and retail partners, it allowed Sony to get the drop on the Saturn with a lower price point and it ultimately destroyed SEGA’s dominance in the American market, financially crippling SEGA permanently. The launch did have a bright spot though: it introduced the games of SEGA’s Team Andromeda to the West.

This month is devoted to the games of Team Andromeda, and to kick things off we have a developer and Panzer Dragoon franchise retrospective. Ready to take flight?