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Old 11-23-2004, 10:32 PM   #106
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Dude!

Good Review man. :cool guy:
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Old 11-24-2004, 03:34 AM   #107
Joe Redifer
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Panzer Dragoon
7/10
Sega Saturn


Believe it or not, the US
box art is slightly better than
the Japanese box art, if you
can get past the GIANT boxes
they used for US Saturn games.


I recently played through all four Panzer Dragoons, wrote up reviews and will post them in chronological order once a day for four days straight. So let's start with the first game! Panzer Dragoon was one of the games that surprise-launched with the Saturn. I was there on launch day and picked up my Saturn, Daytona USA, and Panzer Dragoon. Panzer Dragoon had been in development alongside the Saturn as it was developed. It's a straightforward (mostly) action game, and is the only game in the Panzer Dragoon Series to not have a save function of some kind. For shame! But it does have the Segaman polygon character which was meticulously crafted by the legendary Kentaro Yoshida, and that is worth owning 5 or 6 copies of the game just for that!!!!

Graphics: 5/10
Yeesh. Most of the graphics look pretty bad. You've got warping polygons, blockiness galore, and lots of pop up, not to mention some pretty drab looking colors here and there. So why did I give the graphics a 5 and not lower? Well for one this is one of the first Saturn games ever made, and I am quite impressed with what they were able to do with the game given the time it was released. You even have a teeny bit of polygon transparency in the dragon's homing lasers, you have cool looking reflections, and not to mention the wonderful futuristic/ancient design of the Panzer Dragoon series which was already in full force here. The FMV is small and grainy, but the intro was the very best game intro ever at the time, and stands out as one of the best intros still to this day. The graphics chug along at around 20-24 frames per second most of the time, and there is some clipping that rears its head. But the creature and ship design is awesome, just like in every Panzer Dragoon game. Who can forget the two worms of stage 2 who jump in and out of the sand while attacking you, wiggling around as they move? Classic stuff.


Oooo transparent lasers!
Looks like someone left the water running.


Sound: 9/10
The best music in the Panzer Dragoon series will be found in this game. With the title screen and the first stage theme performed by a full piece orchestra conducted by Tomoyuki Hayashi, you will be engulfed in some of the most brilliant music to ever grace a video game. Despite only the first two pieces being orchestral, Yosh!taka Azuma (who composed all of the music) will captivate you throughout the entire game with pounding beats and solemn notes. The music in the opening cutscene fits perfectly, and helps it to be one of the best videogame opening scenes of all time. All of the Panzer Dragoon sound effects are here in full force, from the made-up language of that world to the awesome sounding dragon screeches. I can't imagine anyone complaining about the sound in this game.


These are NOT the kind of worms that
you want to get after eating an infested meal!
Real sand was used in this game.


Gameplay: 7/10
This game is pretty straightforward. Once again it's all about the tower. You can't let them have that tower, by golly! It's an "on-rails" shooter, but that doesn't detract from the fun. Enemies can come at you from any direction, and you have full 360? control at all times. There isn't much strategy involved, just kill everything while shooting down the enemy fire if you can. You start with just one credit which you can use for a continue should you happen to die, but if you do well and your percentage is high at the end of the stage, you can earn extra continues. You don't get all of your health back between each stage, either, so you will want to do as well as you absolutely can. There are 7 "Episodes" to play through, and each lasts around 4 minutes for the stage and maybe even longer just for the boss fight at the end. A long game this is not, but it is still worthy of owning and playing through from time to time.


OMG!! This crazy dude has wings on his cheeks!
Therefore he MUST be destroyed, since he is different.
Tolerance is not an option.


Wrap up:
The worst looking/worst playing game in the Panzer Dragoon series, and it is still quite awesome!

Last edited by Joe Redifer; 11-24-2004 at 03:57 AM.
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Old 11-24-2004, 03:43 AM   #108
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It's better than Orta in my opinion, mainly because of the soundtrack and because it doesn't feel as stiff overall. It has a natural flow to it, a progression which doesn't feel forced but completely gameplay driven. If only Sega was as enthusiastic about the DC as the Saturn.
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Old 11-24-2004, 04:05 PM   #109
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Whew! I just finished up transferring all of the images, sounds, and video to a new server which should load a bit faster. And as a result each review (except the most recent one) has a "Last Edited by" tag at the bottom. Weeee!!!
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Old 11-24-2004, 05:11 PM   #110
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Cool

Nice. New servers rock and the fact that this is faster... Man, that just makes life worth living again.
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Old 11-24-2004, 06:56 PM   #111
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Yes indeed, and I didn't want the suicides of any Magic Box members on my hands.
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Old 11-24-2004, 09:49 PM   #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Redifer
Yes indeed, and I didn't want the suicides of any Magic Box members on my hands.
I wouldn't commit suicide, I would just go postal. :kill: J/K

I've only played the original Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Orta, both great games.

BTW, if anyone wants, I have an extra Panzer Dragoon, with case and docs for the Saturn if anyone wants to trade for a Sega CD game. A Sega CD game like Robo Aleste, Heart of the Alien, Stellar Strike, Wing Commander, Dungeon Explorer or Eye of the Beholder would be cool. Just PM me. If you have Snatcher for the Sega CD, I'll even throw in a Panzer Dragoon Orta Soundtrack, still in the plastic.

BTW, Redifer, how about a review of Konami's Snatcher for the Sega CD?
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Old 11-24-2004, 09:56 PM   #113
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It's a-comin'. Got some others to get out of da way first though.
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Old 11-25-2004, 01:30 AM   #114
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Panzer Dragoon II Zwei
8/10
Sega Saturn


It is amazing that Sega
didn't butcher the box art!


The first Panzer Dragoon was a pretty kick-ass game in most respects, so of course Sega is going to follow it up with a sequel. But will they make it better? Of course! Panzer Dragoon II Zwei adds branching paths, dragon growth, and more! It remains an action rail shooter just like the first game, but it adds some depth and polish to the overall package that the first one did not. This game takes place BEFORE the first game. Some say that the dragon pup you ride throughout the game is indeed the same dragon that flies through the first game. That's possible, but it's hard to say based on the way the dragon evolves into different forms.

Graphics: 7/10
Once again this is the Saturn trying to do 3D we're dealing with here. But Sega used a newer graphics library for this game than they did with the previous effort, and it shows. We now have a steady 30 frames per second, more polygons onscreen and slightly higher-res textures. Sega even added a 16:9 widescreen option to this game. Back when this was released, widescreen TVs were unheard of. Sega was truly ahead of their time. There is still lots of polygon warping, blockiness and the game seems really dark overall. But once again the design of the creatures and the ships that inhabit the Panzer Dragoon world is outstanding, and this game only expands on that design. The FMV is a little bit bigger and slightly crisper than the first game, as was obviously done by the same people. There is even a bit of transparency during Episode 4's boss encounter. And the animation throughout the game is amazing, as usual. Overall not a bad looking game for the Saturn.


You start out with just a dragon pup running from
the exact same boulder that chased Indiana Jones!


Sound: 7/10
All of the cool sounds you are familiar with from the series are back here, and they sound great. The music definitely took a different turn from the original game, and many people just cannot deal with it. Gone is the orchestral flair and instead we get kind of a middle-eastern/Japanese flavored mix. The music grows on you and after awhile I really started to like it. The music in Episodes 3 and 6 is just awesome. The other tunes are pretty good as well.


Sega added a widescreen mode for this game.
I had no idea what the option did when I first bought this.
Notice that you get higher scores if you play in widescreen!


Gameplay: 8/10
Zwei plays similar to the first game, only now you can choose your path and your dragon evolves depending on how well you do in battle. There are many different forms your dragon can take. This game also adds the berserker attack to the series, which is a blast of power that builds up over time. When the berserker meter is green, you can unleash hell. It really helps being as that this game is a bit tougher than the last one, and it also has 7 episodes. You can unlock a Pandora's Box (called "Pandra's Box" in the game) which lets you turn on some crazy options like controlling the dragon from the original game, selecting your stage, the size of your life meter, etc. You have to keep playing to earn more options in the Pandora's Box, and it really adds to the overall replayability of the game. The game also keeps track of how many times you've played it, how many hours you've played, how many times you've beaten the game. Really nice, I like games that do that. The bosses are really cool, but the final boss looks exactly like a Thanksgiving turkey!


This boss swims around underwater. Is that... transparency?
Well slap my ass and call me Squeaky, it sure is!



Flying through the Empire battleship in episode 6 is
one of the high points of the game. The Empire don't need
no stinkin' wings on their ships! Oars are where it's at!


Wrap up:
A great follow-up that expands on the original in a good way. Some may not appreciate the music, but this is a game that absolutely should not be missed!
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Old 11-25-2004, 02:22 AM   #115
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Your dragon actually grows depending on what route you pick, but to get certain routes depends on your performance before the routes come up and it also depends on certain routes taken.
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Old 11-25-2004, 02:24 AM   #116
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Great review, as usual. I remember how my brother had opened up Pandora's Box, then he had me sit there opening everything up in it for him. That was cool.
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Old 11-26-2004, 01:35 AM   #117
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Panzer Dragoon Saga
AKA: Azel - Panzer Dragoon RPG
8/10
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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Old 11-26-2004, 08:20 AM   #118
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I tried this game before, the graphics were so horrid so I didn't bother playing further.
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Old 11-26-2004, 11:18 AM   #119
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For the mid to late 90's, I thought the Panzer games had some fairly good graphics, great gameplay, a wonderful atmosphere, and of course great music polished off the whole package.

Great reviews, Redifer. I enjoy RPG's that last in the 20 to 30 hour range. Any more and it starts to get tedious. I've always wanted PD Saga, but not till after it already cost a mint on Ebay. Damn, I remember seeing PD Saga on the shelf at EB back in the day, when the Saturn was dieing and there were like 20 Saturn games left on the shelf and it was only $50. I bought Primal Rage for the Jag CD instead, as it was on clearance and only $9.99. Then I went down to KB Toys and bought a couple more Jag games for under $10 each. Shoot me now!
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Old 11-26-2004, 11:27 PM   #120
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Panzer Dragoon Orta
8/10
Xbox


One of the few Japanese
games available for the Xbox.


Finally we have what might be the last Panzer Dragon game ever released due to poor sales. That's really sad, because it's such a good game. The fact that you can't kill prostitutes is probably what made this game fail. But this Xbox game has an unbelievable amount of polish. It is one of the true gems available for the system.


I'm not sure if this is a worm
or a huge infected love muscle.


Graphics: 10/10
Wow. After playing through the other 3 Panzer Dragoon games and then turning on this, I am simply floored. It is one of the best looking Xbox games... heck one of the best looking games period! Not only does it have the amazing design that is a staple in the Panzer Dragoon world, it expands upon it greatly as well. Whereas other Panzer Dragoons were more ancient than futuristic, this one leans more heavily to the futuristic side. Lots of splashy colors, incredible depth, silky-smooth framerate, 480p and perfect 16:9 widescreen with NO stretched menus or HUDs. Make that 3 games that do 16:9 perfectly (Super Monkeyball 2 and F-Zero GX being the other 2 so far. Sega rocks). This game also has a minimal amount of aliasing (jaggies) even in 480p. Truly a sight to be hold in every aspect of the visuals.


The dragon from the original game attacks
the boss of the stage and his employees.


Sound: 9/10
All of your typical Panzer Dragoon sounds are here once again and they sound great. There are some new futuristic sounds as well. The music sounds very similar to Zwei, but the sound quality is more polished and the music played during the early boss encounters is awesome. Some of the music in the later stages is rather nondescript, much to my dismay. Then there is the overall sound quality: Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, this game sounds absolutely incredible! People who know sound worked on this game, that's for sure. The use of the discrete subwoofer is brilliant and really adds to the power and intensity of the game. These guys know way more than the people who did Halo 2's sounds. Halo 2 doesn't even have a discrete subwoofer. One of the better sounding Xbox games out there.


Fly through the giant colon to
get to the source of all evil!


Gameplay: 8/10
The gameplay is great but doesn't quite live up to the awesome graphics and sound. It takes its cues from each of the previous Panzer Dragoon games. It's a straightforward "on rails" shooter like the first game, it features branching paths and limited dragon growth like the second game, and bosses have weak spots that do more damage if you attack them there like the third game. You must fly around to the appropriate side of them by slowing down or speeding up. There is a lot of story and dialog going on at times as you play, as well as cut scenes between each episode. In this game we get 10 episodes instead of just 7 like in the previous outings. You are in control of a morphing dragon, who changes appearance and abilities at your command. I really did not like this feature, because each version of the dragon leveled up independently and I just didn't like being bothered by having to worry about which dragon form I should use at any given time, so I pretty much stuck with the default form. More choice isn't ALWAYS good. This time the story is more about you than the overall world of the Empire. And once again there is a Pandora's Box which lets you unlock a ton of stuff that really adds a lot to the replayability. These include entire new modes of gameplay such as being able to play a young boy who grows up to be part of the empire. You can even fly different dragons and ships throughout the main game, and even have Azel (from Panzer Dragoon Saga) as your rider. There are many different things to do in Pandora's Box, so you won't get bored too quickly, that's for sure. I have unlocked everything and the detail that went into this game is amazing. You can even play the original Sega Saturn Panzer Dragoon once you beat the game once! That is typical of Sega in many of their games... Panzer Dragoon Orta, House of the Dead III and Out Run 2 all have the original games in them (or part 2 in the case of HotD) when you beat them. Sega loves you. You should love them back!


If you kill all of the giant endangered butterflies,
they won't be on the endangered species list anymore.


Wrap up:
This is probably the last game in the series, and it is a fitting end. Lots of fun to be had and if you own an Xbox you should own this game, unless you only have an Xbox because of Halo 1 and 2.

Last edited by Joe Redifer; 11-26-2004 at 11:31 PM.
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