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Old 11-26-2004, 02:35 AM   #117
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,144
Panzer Dragoon Saga
AKA: Azel - Panzer Dragoon RPG
Sega Saturn

The way they stack the 4 CDs in this box
is weird. Each CD has its own paper sleeve
and just sits on top of the CD below it.
At least each CD has its own unique graphic.

I knew that Panzer Dragoon Saga would be the toughest to review and take the longest. This game almost didn't make it out in the US. The Saturn was nearly dead here at the time and Sega of America didn't know what to do (have they ever?). They finally decided to translate the text and release the game. I never saw this game at retail, and I had to order it online. Once it arrived I found an RPG like no other, and right off the bat let me say that I am certainly no RPG fanatic. This was definitely different. How so? Well let's take a closer look at the game!

Story: 8/10
I may have rated this high just because I think that the world of Panzer Dragoon is downright cool. With its futuristic and yet ancient designs, as well as it's very own language, one cannot help but admire that world. In the beginning of the game you are greeted with the familiar Panzer Dragoon language. You're a dude named Edge who works for the Empire. You think the Empire is hot sh!t. One day you are battling a monster to prove your manliness in the excavation cave and you see some chick mounted on the wall in a funky position. This chick is Azel, and you'll meet her again in the game... more than once... so don't be too sad when she is kidnapped. Anyway you are rescued by a totally rad dragon and you vow revenge on those asswipes who killed your friends. Like I said, you think the Empire is hot sh!t, but as the game goes on you learn interesting things about it and its enemies, making you wonder where your loyalties lie. It's not typical to the story of other RPG's (thank goodness), but it fits right into the world of Panzer Dragoon. Have you ever noticed how at the end of all other Panzer Dragoon games, it is insinuated that your dragon dies (except in Zwei where it is insinuated that "after all this time he is still with me"). Ya think your dragon will survive this game? Do ya? Huh? Play and find out!

You'll fly though lots of tunnels to get
from area to area. Looks like a colonoscopy.

Graphics: 7/10
This is the Saturn trying to do 3D, so you're not going to be blown out of your chair... at least not this time. However the designs of the creatures and the ships is simply awesome, as is the animation of said designs. That brings the score up a notch on its own. There is also polygon transparency if you can believe that, though it only exists in clouds and water. The towns seem kind of drab in areas and the overworld map where you can move from area to area looks absolutely horrid and features unintentionally warping polygons. But again, those creature designs are truly a sight to behold. The frame rate usually stays around 30 or so and there is the rare moment of slowdown when too many polygons are onscreen (usually in the towns). Some of the areas are really cool lookin'. The desert looks almost exactly like the desert stage (stage 2) from the original Panzer Dragoon, with worms jumping in and out of the sand, etc.

Transparent polygonal water on the Saturn? No way!
You can even kill the little fishies swimming around!

Sound: 8/10
In the beginning of the game, all of the characters speak in the made-up Panzer Dragoon language. But once the actual gameplay begins, everybody starts speaking Japanese. All of this is subtitled, so if you can't read, take my advice here and don't play this game. Each and every line of dialog has a voiceover, and you can have fun with the voices by using the L and R buttons to slow them down or speed them up. If you use Sega's analog controller, the L and R buttons are actually analog triggers, and you can vary the speed of the voices to a great degree. Pretty cool, especially if you want to speed things up just to get out of talking with some moron. I wish I could do that in real life, god damn it! Then you have the typical dragon screeches which sound undeniably cool, and the regular Panzer Dragoon sound effects are here as well. The music is pretty good, definitely a notch above Zwei and Orta (parts 2 and 4) for the most part, though it's not quite up to the musical level of the first game. Still I did not tire of any of the tunes, even when I was in constant battle (and battles are not something that are few and far between in this game).

The battles are really cool. This is the
first boss. You must attack his ass.. and hard!

Gameplay: 8/10
Panzer Dragoon Saga is definitely a unique RPG to say the least. You have your typical controls like magic and healing, as well as save points and the like. You earn "money" (dyne) and experience after each enemy encounter you survive. But you don't have to worry about a party full of whiny teens like you do in most RPGs. It's just you and your dragon. And that other dude who gives you advice. You'll meet some peeps on the way, give them rides (like the aforementioned "advice dude"), get items from them and all that nonsense. But the meat of the game lies within the really cool battles. The battles are true 3D, and features one of the best battle systems I've ever seen used in an RPG. You can fly around to any of 4 sides of the enemies. One side will be their weakest and other sides will let them unleash stronger attacks against you. So you must keep your eye on the radar. If you are in the red, watch out as the enemy can kick your ass something fierce! You can use berserkers of different levels and effect, and you can use Edge's own gun to target a specific enemy in a crowd or a certain part on a boss' body. The better in battle you do, the more dyne and experience you get. If you barely make it out alive or take too many hits, you won't get as much. In order to attack you must wait until the three bars in the lower right of the screen fill up. Once one is filled you can unleash a basic attack. Some berserkers require more charge to use. The enemies all have charge bars as well, but you can't see them. Your bars can't charge as you are repositioning yourself. As the game progresses, you'll of course go on to new areas but you'll also need to backtrack into previously visited areas to get what you couldn't before. The game offers 6 different save slots which is welcome, but in order to get all 6 of them you must have both the Sega Battery Back Up cartridge as well as enough space in your Saturn's memory. You can potentially have unlimited save slots if you have millions of different Sega Back Up carts if that's your thang. You also earn spirituality points if you are nice to your dragon. Be sure to smile and pet him every time you can, and also give him a name. He'll like that. Doing this allows you to obtain certain berserkers and can even teach your dragon to fight on his own! The game isn't horribly long, expect about 20 hours or so with this one. No complaints here. I like my RPG's to get to the point rather than just droning on and on forever (like Tales of Symphonia does). A very worthy game to play through, and it really helps you to appreciate the Panzer Dragoon world even more.

You don't spend the entire game on your dragon.
You get to wander around towns as well. Here
Edge looks for a place to take a wicked piss!

Wrap up:
A great RPG, but I'm not sure where all the hype comes from. It's probably due to the game's rarity. Nonetheless, a fitting chapter in the Panzer Dragoon series. Go buy this game now. Travel back in time if you have to... it's easy.. and cheaper than current eBay prices!
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