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Panzer Dragoon Saga

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Released: 1998

Genre: RPG

Format reviewed: Sega Saturn

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Team Andromeda

Submitted by: Phil Harrison

Panzer Dragoon Saga was an unlikely sequel, a huge shift from frantic, on-rails shooter to RPG. About as absurd as the next R-Type being a strategy RPG, no way right?

Right?

Panzer Dragoon launched with the Sega Saturn in 1995 and was an instant classic, providing the exciting scenario of riding astride a dragon and raining laser death on anything that twitched. A 2nd game, ‘Zwei’ was released a year later and introduced multiple routes and an evolving system based on your performance.

Apart from the exemplary gameplay these games offered, they also brought forth a unique, rich & imaginative universe for their settings and in retrospect, perfect for the 3rd and last game for the Saturn: Saga.

Official Sega Saturn Magazine, never ones to let a good game go unsung, went one further than the 96% review and provided the entire 1st disc (of 4) on the front cover of the magazine for £4.99. Making absolutely sure as many people as possible experienced the game.

Why the enthusiasm? Well, apart from a wonderfully balanced real-time combat system that married the old combat with the strategy of an RPG perfectly, that rich universe was used to provide a mature and affecting story that would touch the heart of any hard faced teenager. For me personally I hadn’t played anything with as much sophistication, treating the player with intelligence and didn’t dissolve into tired cliché. Its story also broke the 4th wall in the revelatory final conflict.

The game also doffed its cap with references and set-pieces to the past Panzer games, a particularly memorable encounter saw the villains of the piece, the Empire, dig up an ancient monster which if you’re a veteran, you recognize as a final boss you’d already once sent to its grave.

The game’s other antagonist, Azel and her dragon Atolm; which dwarfed yours, regularly popped up to  thwart your progress. One ecounter renders the pair stranded together sans steeds and into forced cooperation, but its a lovely part of the story.

If you can find and afford it, you won’t be disappointed with this seminal title.