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Panzer Dragoon Series - Better Than Star Fox

xWonderboyxxWonderboyx Registered User
edited September 2009 in Games and Technology
A few weeks ago I was browsing one of the local thrift shops when I cam across a treasure trove of saturn games all marked at 2 bucks a piece. Among them was the entire Panzer Dragoon series released for the Saturn. That's right, even the retardedly expensive (on ebay) Saga. Having recently finished all the games in the series, I am making a thread so you can all read and be jealous.

Panzer Dragoon

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This is the game that started it all. I was actually really surprised by how good it looked still and how smooth the framerate was. I expected choppiness and poor gameplay, but what I was treated to was a fascinating story with incredible art direction coupled with some sweet rail shooter gameplay. You have two attacks at your disposal, lock-on and a rapid fire single shot kind of gun. You can lock on to 5 or 6 enemies at a time and that's about the extent of it.

There are 6 or so "episodes" and each one has a little preface to it. The intro and ending are full cgi and again, are surprisingly well done by today's standards. Each episode has a HUGE boss at the end of it that usually has some sort of pattern that is pretty easy to figure out.

The story is you're just some random hunter guy who then gets caught up in a struggle between good and evil (I know, right?). The story in this one is pretty barebones but it is still set against a beautiful backdrop with excellent music.

On the whole, this game is fucking difficult, but it's very much worth a playthrough, and in fact is included as a bonus on Panzer Dragoon Orta (to be discussed later).

Oh, and I'm just going to say this one once, the music in all the games is fucking incredible and does a perfect job of evoking the emotions needed for the scene.

Panzer Dragoon Zwei

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The second game in the series follows in the rail shooter footsteps (wingflaps?) of its predecessor. The graphics are slightly improved and there are generally more enemies on screen. The devs added a "berserk" feature that is pretty much your typical screen clearing "bomb" attack from most shooters that you charge by shooting baddies. Also added is a points system that scores your performance as you play and the better you do as you progress through the levels your dragon will evolve into more powerful forms as you get more points. The game also introduced branching paths that are easier/more difficult based on different things.

The story takes place 1000 years before the first game. The main character is keeping his pet a secret because it's a mutant and we don't take kindly to mutants 'round these parts. His little mutant baby thing grows wings and one day he's out trying to get the little bastard to fly when this big fucking ship comes in and blows up his village just fucking cause. His mutant baby thing then decides 'oh shit I'm actually a dragon watch me shoot lasers' and now the empire is after them. I won't spoil the rest but it's actually really fleshed out as far as rail shooter stories go, and again the music creates situations that tug at the ol' heartstrings.

Panzer Dragoon Saga

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This is my favorite game in the series even though it is completely different from them all. Instead of being a really sweet rail shooter, it's an RPG. It came out incredibly late in the Saturn's life, is 4 discs long, and is fully voiced. Every interaction (that I cam across at least) had full japanese voice accompanied by english subtitles. The first disc is really cutscene heavy (my playtime for the first disc was 2 hours 30 minutes because game doesn't count FMVs in time. That, and the intro is nearly 45 minutes long), but it mellows out after that.

The gameplay is actually really deep and you don't have to bother with any party bullshit. You ride a dragon. Duh. You have three action bars that fill up over time and different actions take a different amount of action bars. A lot of your magic attacks (called berserks) take two bars (and the MP of this game is BP) and regular attacks take one bar. The regular attacks you have available are a multi-enemy laser (like the lock-on of the earlier two games) and your single enemy high damage gun.

There is also a positioning system used in the game where you and your enemy jockey for a good attacking position. There are 4 positions: front, back, and to either side. Most enemies have a weak point that you can attack for large damage. Where you are in relation to your enemy is represented by a colored radar at the bottom of the screen. Green is a place you can't be attacked, black is a place where you can be attacked but only by normal things and red is where you will take heavy damage if you get caught there when the enemy attacks. The battle system is really fun and even though it used random attacks I was still enjoying fighting enemies even up to the final boss.

You can also alter your dragon's stats in the game's menu. Essentially you move a little dot around a circle graph that raises or lowers different stats based on where said dot is. I ran through the game with an attack class dragon with high defense but I had low agility and spiritual power (low spirituals means berserk attacks cost more BP)

The story takes place after the first game. It starts with you working for the empire guarding an ancient dig site when a dude named Craymen comes in and kills everyone (including you) and steals an artifact (a girl sealed in stone). When you were killed you were knocked into a giant chasm, but you actually weren't killed despite the shotgun to the face and like so many pokemans, the dragon chooses you! The story does actually get beyond its revenge story trappings, but not until midway through the third disc. Despite the sometimes seemingly shallow story, the game has a rich backstory that you get through finding ancient texts and talking to people. Learning the backstory of the world was one of the best aspects of the game, and every now and then you come across references to the earlier two games which is always fun.

It really is unfortunate this game is so rare, because I think it is one of the better RPGs I've played from a gameplay perspective, and the story is incredibly engaging, but it might not be "twisty" enough for some younger gamers raised on the stories available these days.

Panzer Dragoon Orta

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The final (but hopefully not last) game in the series is Orta. Obviously the best looking because it was released on the xbox and it is the best of the shooter games.

Carrying over all the aspects of the first two games (branching paths, dragon evolution, etc.), Orta adds a quick evolution style of play. By pressing the Y button you can quickly change from Base Wing (the all around mode with moderate power, speed, and defenses), Attack Wing (super strong and super slow, no boost ability), and Agility Wing (ultra mobile, no lock-on, 3 boost meters). You can also level these forms up as you play to make them better at what they do.

This game also invented its own language for the characters to speak. It's like a mix of japanese and english but it doesn't really matter cause it's all subtitled anyway.

The story follows a girl named Orta, who for her 13 year existence has been imprisoned in a tower when one day a dragon saves her and she is then thrust on a quest to find out who she is. Oh and she will probably take down the empire (who is invariably evil) and shoot a lot of shit along the way.

Contained in the game is something called Pandora's Box. As you play the game you unlock different features of Pandora's Box and almost all of them have to do with the lore of the game world and it is all very fascinating. However, the best part of Pandora's Box is the ability to play the original Panzer Dragoon. This is the chance for the unwashed masses to experience the series' beginning.

Also, Orta is emulated flawlessly on the 360.

I hope this thread has at least interested you enough to pick up Orta for the Xbox (I got it for 7 bucks on ebay). Who knows, maybe the series will be continued someday. At least Sega isn't running this series into the ground...

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Posts

  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    You're gonna make me go out and buy Orta for a third time, arent ya, ARENT YA? I know it's DLC somewhere...

    I play viciously. I always level up each class fully by the end.

    Spoiler:

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  • LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I remember playing the original to death when the Saturn first launched. I don't have much commentary to add, but I love this series and wish that Saga didn't cost millions of dollars to acquire.

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  • xWonderboyxxWonderboyx Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Cantido wrote: »
    You're gonna make me go out and buy Orta for a third time, arent ya, ARENT YA? I know it's DLC somewhere...

    I play viciously. I always level up each class fully by the end.

    Spoiler:
    Spoiler:

    Teary-eyed man-children itt

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  • UnbreakableVowUnbreakableVow YRP...in position It's showtime, girls.Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    It's possible that it may be better than Star Fox, but due to Sega being fucking dumb and never porting it to anything else, we'll never know now, will we?

    Also, I did get a chance to play Orta, and it was good, but certainly no Star Fox 64.

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  • xWonderboyxxWonderboyx Registered User
    edited September 2009
    says you

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  • Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Sadly these games didnt aged well at all.

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  • QuirkyLittleTyrantQuirkyLittleTyrant Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I love the shit out of this series. Saga is my favorite, but all of them are awesome.

    This site has a metric shitton of Panzer Dragoon concept and promotional art, and all of it is gorgeous: LAG I- The Art of Panzer Dragoon

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  • Steel AngelSteel Angel Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Saga remains one of my favorite games period to this day. There's extreme satisfaction to be found in charging up three action bars, then swinging into a red zone that also contains an enemy's weakspot so that you can unload three salvos of lasers before swinging back to safety.

    Big Dookie wrote: »
    I found that tilting it doesn't work very well, and once I started jerking it, I got much better results.

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  • RainbowDespairRainbowDespair Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Also, I did get a chance to play Orta, and it was good, but certainly no Star Fox 64.

    True. It was a lot better than Star Fox 64 (which to be fair is also an excellent game).

    And forget Final Fantasy 7, if I had the choice to snap my fingers and have any RPG get a remake, I would definitely choose Panzer Dragoon Saga. The graphics have aged horribly and the gameplay could use some fine-tuning, but its core is about as wonderful as RPGs get.

  • SteevLSteevL What can I do for you? Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I've played them all, but the only one I ever beat was Saga because I suck at the on-rails shooters. I always loved the atmosphere of the series.

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Also, I did get a chance to play Orta, and it was good, but certainly no Star Fox 64.

    True. It was a lot better than Star Fox 64 (which to be fair is also an excellent game).

    And forget Final Fantasy 7, if I had the choice to snap my fingers and have any RPG get a remake, I would definitely choose Panzer Dragoon Saga. The graphics have aged horribly and the gameplay could use some fine-tuning, but its core is about as wonderful as RPGs get.

    All truth here. I mean, I've never wanted an FF7 remake, but a PDS one? Holy shit the babies I would punch to make this happen...

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  • UnbreakableVowUnbreakableVow YRP...in position It's showtime, girls.Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    You'd have to punch several, because Sega just isn't that smart.

    Instead, they're doing a new Sonic! Because they "listen to their fans."

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  • ShadowfireShadowfire Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    You'd have to punch several, because Sega just isn't that smart.

    Instead, they're doing a new Sonic! Because they "listen to their fans."

    The source code being gone puts a damper in this as well, I'm sure. :P

    But yea, SEGA's been making crazy decisions for years.

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  • UnbreakableVowUnbreakableVow YRP...in position It's showtime, girls.Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I doubt that has anything to do with it. When people say "remake", I don't imagine some Banjo-Kazooie XBLA style port. I expect a remake.

    I never got to play PDS, and I've heard marvelous things. I'd love for them to remake it from the ground up for one of the high-def systems.

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    The one thing I remember most about the Dragoon games was the presentation. Dazzling FMV, gabby gobby made-up language, a nice soundtrack.

    I also remember the magazine ad for Saga back in the day. It was a paper mask (I think it was the main character) and a brief explanation that, because the game was hard to find in US stores, SEGA was sorry and hoped this mask would make up for it. Slip it on and pretend you're riding a dragon!

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  • l337CrappyJackl337CrappyJack Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Weeird. Totally just got Orta a few weeks ago off Goozex. Glad to know the internet agrees that it was a good call.

  • scootchscootch Registered User
    edited September 2009
    found 1 and 2 at pawn shop for 99 cent sealed a while back. I've been loving the series since. wish they would make new one.

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  • BluefootBluefoot Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Oh fuck yes. As you may be able to tell from my sig/avatar, I'm a bit of a Panzer Dragoon fan. Panzer Dragoon Saga was the first game I ever preordered, and my first RPG ever. I loved this series so very very much. One thing that I didn't really appreciate until recently is how heavily Panzer Dragoon is inspired by Miyazaki's Nausicaa, which is pretty cool.

    I see Lagi's already been linked, but the other kickass Panzer Dragoon site is The Will of the Ancients, which is home, among other things, to pretty much the only english-speaking Panzer Dragoon forum that I know of. This site may or may not contain some Panzer Dragoon fanfiction that I wrote when I was young and stupid.

    Here's some awesome Panzer Dragoon music:

  • GrimthwackerGrimthwacker MRGRGR!!! Five. . . four. . . three. . .Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Nothing is better than Star Fox 64. Nothing.

    That said, I have very fond memories of the Panzer series. The original was cool and all, and I still have the first stage's theme burned into my brain, but Zwei was friggin' addictive. Team Andromeda really knew how to make the Saturn work, and it showed. Everything was so much smoother and more enjoyable, and the Pandora's Box options to tweak just about every gameplay element, including which dragons you could play with (including the little baby one)? Awesome.

    Saga was insane for its time. Truly one of the most underrated RPGs ever. The fact that they took all the elements from the shooters and made them work flawlessly in an RPG style blew my mind. It really rewarded tactical thinking and strategy while punishing constant offense. I remember the boss fights being especially intense as you rationed your action points, constantly kept track of your positioning, and waited for just the right moment to score a huge hit to the enemy's weak point, hoping it wouldn't retaliate with a heavy attack. The soundtrack and atmosphere were amazing, too.

    Orta was just plain gravy; it's one of my favorite Xbox games. The Pandora's Box features were great, everything from detailed encyclopedia entries about the world and its creatures to a whole series of mini-missions starring one of the Empire's soldiers chasing after Orta and her dragon in one of those dinky little cannon fodder attack ships. What really got me about those was the narration and characterization of this soldier all throughout; if I recall correctly, he kept going on about how he knew he was over his head trying to kill the dragon, but continued anyway with a Captain Ahab level of obsession. They even had little "game over" monologues whenever you failed a mission, mostly involving him cursing the fact that he wasn't able to complete his mission. Now that was classy.

    TL,DR: Panzer Dragoon was good stuff.

  • Lord JezoLord Jezo Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    You should have a disclaimer in that OP that reads something like "Panzer Dragoon Saga, you'll never be able to afford it so don't get your hopes up."

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  • QuirkyLittleTyrantQuirkyLittleTyrant Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Pandora's Box was awesome, but suffered a serious lack of selectable Atolm. I have no idea how it'd work, as that sucker was huge, but it needed to be done.

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  • AiranAiran Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Motherfuckers never fixed the 360 BC to allow EU copies of Orta to work past the 3rd level :x

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  • BluefootBluefoot Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Lord Jezo wrote: »
    You should have a disclaimer in that OP that reads something like "Panzer Dragoon Saga, you'll never be able to afford it so don't get your hopes up."

    Whoa! Last I checked (several years ago) it was maxing out around $150/$200, and even that was pretty ridiculous.

  • Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Bluefoot wrote: »
    Lord Jezo wrote: »
    You should have a disclaimer in that OP that reads something like "Panzer Dragoon Saga, you'll never be able to afford it so don't get your hopes up."

    Whoa! Last I checked (several years ago) it was maxing out around $150/$200, and even that was pretty ridiculous.

    Well this one is brand new in the box and factory sealed.

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  • SilpheedSilpheed Registered User
    edited September 2009
    If Sega weren't such a bunch of retards they would have ported and re-released the entire series on a collection or at least made some kind of effort to create a new PD game but nooo, let's shit out another awful Sonic title instead that will inevitably bomb..

  • piLpiL Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    When the first couple came out, I had absolutely no interest in playing them, because I'm not a fan of tank simulators.

  • Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    piL wrote: »
    When the first couple came out, I had absolutely no interest in playing them, because I'm not a fan of tank simulators.

    I am not seeing the tank. Though Panzer is a tank.

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  • SilpheedSilpheed Registered User
    edited September 2009
    piL wrote: »
    When the first couple came out, I had absolutely no interest in playing them, because I'm not a fan of tank simulators.
    <img class=" title=":lol:" class="bbcode_smiley" />

  • piLpiL Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    piL wrote: »
    When the first couple came out, I had absolutely no interest in playing them, because I'm not a fan of tank simulators.

    I am not seeing the tank. Though Panzer is a tank.

    Not only are panzers tanks, but, at least in America, dragoons are calvary squadrons. They drive Abrahms, Bradleys, and Strykers.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    EDIT: Did anyone watch that Panzer Dragoon anime from the mid 90s?

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  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2009
    Good thread, OP.

    Amazed at how Zwei looked ages better than most games on the PSX on the "inferior" system. Saga was aces as well.

    Orta was a big disappointment, but was still a very very good game.

    Would love to see the series return but I don't have my hopes up. Maybe as a Live title, but that would probably be the only option.

    Panzer Dragoon is absolutely one of the most expansive game universes out there. Wish everyone could have played these games.

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  • Rex DartRex Dart Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Does anyone else think that a Panzer Dragoon-style shooter would be a good fit for the Wii? You could control the whole game with just a Wiimote.

    The pointer would move the dragon/aim.
    The d-pad could control the camera.
    1/2 could change forms.
    +/- could speed up/down.
    B button could shoot.
    A+B would do berserk?

    Just something that occurred to me back when those Panzer Dragoon Genos rumors were going around.

  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Rogue Coral Springs, FLRegistered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I wouldn't put Orta(or anything) above SF64, but it is one amazing game. <3 the battleship level.

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  • elliotw2elliotw2 Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Silpheed wrote: »
    If Sega weren't such a bunch of retards they would have ported and re-released the entire series on a collection or at least made some kind of effort to create a new PD game but nooo, let's shit out another awful Sonic title instead that will inevitably bomb..

    Actually, they did remake at least the first one as part of that Sega Ages line that we never got

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  • xWonderboyxxWonderboyx Registered User
    edited September 2009
    elliotw2 wrote: »
    Silpheed wrote: »
    If Sega weren't such a bunch of retards they would have ported and re-released the entire series on a collection or at least made some kind of effort to create a new PD game but nooo, let's shit out another awful Sonic title instead that will inevitably bomb..

    Actually, they did remake at least the first one as part of that Sega Ages line that we never got

    From what I understand that wasn't so much a remake as a port. It's really no different from the version that is found in Orta.

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I think the first two Panzer games were ported to Windows.

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  • elliotw2elliotw2 Registered User
    edited September 2009
    I think I remember seeing Panzer Dragoon 1 on some abandonware site before actually. If I remember right, it looks worse than the Saturn one

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I dunno which version is unlocked in the Orta game but that version of Panzer Dragoon looked like ass. It was like flying a brick, not a dragon.

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  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2009
    elliotw2 wrote: »
    Silpheed wrote: »
    If Sega weren't such a bunch of retards they would have ported and re-released the entire series on a collection or at least made some kind of effort to create a new PD game but nooo, let's shit out another awful Sonic title instead that will inevitably bomb..

    Actually, they did remake at least the first one as part of that Sega Ages line that we never got

    From what I understand that wasn't so much a remake as a port. It's really no different from the version that is found in Orta.

    Which is the PC version.

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