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Panzer Dragoon Saga
The NTSC cover for Panzer Dragoon Saga.
Developer(s) Team Andromeda
Publisher(s) Sega
Designer(s) Yukio Futatsugi (director)
Artist(s) Katsumi Yokoto[1]
Composer(s) Saori Kobayashi
Mariko Nanba
Series Panzer Dragoon
Platform(s) Sega Saturn
Release date(s) JP January 29, 1998
NA April 30, 1998
PAL 1998
Genre(s) RPG
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) CERO: 12+
ELSPA: 11+
ESRB: T (Teen)
USK: 12
Media 4 CDs

Panzer Dragoon Saga (アゼル パンツァードラグーンRPG Azel: Panzer Dragoon RPG ?) is a critically-acclaimed role-playing video game (RPG) released exclusively for the Sega Saturn in 1998. It was the third Panzer Dragoon game to be released (not counting Panzer Dragoon Mini, a spin-off title for the Game Gear), and so far remains the only game in the series that is not a rail shooter. Like the other Panzer Dragoon games on the Saturn, it was developed by Sega's internal Team Andromeda development studio. The team disbanded after Saga’s release.

Contents

Synopsis

The player controls Edge, a young hunter, as he attempts to free the world from the will of the Ancients with the help of a powerful flying dragon. The game blends strategic semi-realtime combat with free-roaming exploratory sequences. Like the other Panzer Dragoon games, the game is notable for its unique art direction and soundtrack, and for its unusual (and frequently abstract) world, story, and characters.

Story

Chronologically, Panzer Dragoon Saga’s story is the third in sequence. It takes place after Panzer Dragoon Zwei and the original Panzer Dragoon, but before Panzer Dragoon Orta.

As with other Panzer installments, the story takes place in an unspecified post-apocalyptic environment where hostile mutant creatures roam unprotected areas and disparate human factions compete for land and resources. The largest of these factions is the Empire, built upon the buried technology of the Ancients. The ‘Ancients’ is the generic name given to the people that once controlled a world spanning, hyper-advanced civilization thousands of years before the start of the Panzer series of games. A mysterious cataclysm, hinted at as a terrible war during the course of the series, would spell the downfall of this civilization and nearly destroy the world, leaving the survivors to eke out a bleak existence among the blasted remains in the ensuing millennia. Eventually, the Ancients and their works would gain a sort of "godlike" respect, and a horrific regard, among some people as they passed into legend. The remnants of these technologies are used in the development of much of humanity’s own machinery, weaponry, and vehicles, such as the unusual floating ships which are a staple of the series.

The protagonist of the story (and the character whom the player controls) is Edge, a young soldier employed by the Empire. We find him at the beginning of the story on duty protecting an excavation site where Ancient artifacts are being recovered. After helping to fend off an attack from one of the wild mutant creatures within the cave where the excavation is being made, Edge discovers what seems to be the fossil-like embodiment of a young woman buried in a wall.

Before he can react, the excavation site is suddenly attacked by a rebel faction of mutinous troops from the Empire. Craymen, the faction's leader, orders his troops to seize the girl. Edge, along with the rest of his companions, are shot. As Edge is hit, he falls from the top of the cliff where he had seen them take the girl that he had inadvertently discovered earlier. He falls some distance into an underground reservoir. To his own surprise, he is apparently unharmed and manages to locate a gun to defend himself with. Then, attempting to find a way out, Edge is intercepted by a flying dragon. The dragon seems to be communicating with him on some spiritual level and, with whose help, Edge decides to take revenge and decipher the mystery of the girl Craymen has kidnapped.

Game system

The player uses a combination of puzzle-solving and strategic thinking with frequent interaction with non-player characters to progress in the game and further the story. Combat plays a large part in the game, with common small enemies and story-centric boss opponents standing in Edge’s way. As with other RPGs, experience points are handed out after successful battles with the player’s dragon growing in power and ability as it gains levels based on the amount of points. Panzer Dragoon Saga is strongly story-driven and the world contains a large body of literature in various forms regarding the setting's backstory. Non-interactive cut scenes, many of which are pre-rendered CG sequences, are frequently used to illustrate important plot sequences.

Outside of combat, the game is essentially made up of two distinct modes:

Foot

When Edge is on foot he can move freely around his environment, talk to other characters, enter buildings, read books, and so on. This mode is used primarily for exploring villages, towns, and other safezones and has no combat functionality. Certain items and characters can be interacted with using a mechanic similar to that found with the rail-shooting games in the series. A cursor controlled with the D-Pad (or analog stick) can be called up and moved around the screen to highlight (or "lock on" to) specific objects of interest. Depending on how close Edge is to the object or character highlighted, a different response is generated—for example, selecting a pair of characters from a distance will allow you to eavesdrop on their conversation, while at closer range Edge will converse with them directly. Treasures and items may only be acquired when right next to the appropriate object.

Flight

When Edge is riding the dragon (which can be named by the player) the control scheme changes somewhat. Without input, the dragon will simply hover in one spot—movement is controlled by moving the dragon up and down to adjust whose height and pressing the B button to fly forwards. Unlike the other Panzer Dragoon games, the dragon’s movement is not pre-determined, and instead the player is free to explore their environment as they wish. A modification of the on-foot mode’s cursor system is present, but is simplified somewhat: there is no differentiation between distances, and the dragon’s interaction is limited to "break" (for opening item boxes and so on) and "access" (for opening doors or switches). For breaking objects, the dragon's lasers have a rating scale; stronger objects require a more powerfully morphed dragon to destroy. However, with very few exceptions, any area with such objects can be revisited later to eliminate the obstacles and uncover their secrets.

When flying, the player may be attacked by a monster, with the chance of an attack at any given moment being indicated by a coloured danger metre in the HUD. (The game makes use of the traditional random encounter system as is typical of the genre.) The flight mode is used for exploring expansive ‘dungeon’ areas (such as the mine valleys opening the game) and takes place between the more relaxed on-foot segments of the game.

At one point in the story Edge’s dragon is replaced with a hover vehicle called a Floater. Although it has no flight capacity, the vehicle operates in almost exactly the same way both in and out of combat, lacking only the dragon’s berserk (spell) ability and possessing a permanent laser rating of 1.

Battle system

Compared to many of its contemporaries, such as the Final Fantasy series, Panzer Dragoon Saga has a notably cinematic combat system, making use of dramatic, sweeping camera angles and elaborate animation sequences to dramatize battles. In keeping with the thematic concepts introduced with the series' dragon, combat takes place in mid-air rather than on the ground and is not based on a traditional turn-based model, working instead with a real-time system. However, like most RPGs, the player is able to attack, use items, or cast spells (called ‘'berserks'’ in the game).

The player may confront multiple opponents at a time, and many enemies have multiple points that may be targeted. The player is also given the opportunity to circle the enemy and attack from different sides, allowing the dragon to attack a specific weak point that may only reveal itself from different angles. The risk is that this may also leave the player character open to a strong attack from that direction.

Enemies are also able to adjust their positioning. A radar in the HUD indicates the respective safe, neutral, and hazardous areas surrounding the enemy. These safe areas—and the enemy’s weak spots—often change. Therefore, the player must quickly and frequently assess the strategic advantages and disadvantages of the player character's positioning in order to gain the best advantage.

The real-time system makes use of three action gauges that deplete with each move made. A move constitutes a normal attack, a Berserk attack (see below), or the use of an item. Basic moves such as firing Edge's gun or unleashing a laser attack from the dragon cost one gauge, with Berserk attacks consuming anywhere from one to three gauges. The gauges refill in real-time; the speed at which they do so dependent on the form that the dragon is currently in. The player can use whatever moves one likes, whenever, as long as there are enough Berserk Points and fully-charged action gauges. Therefore, if all three gauges are charged, three single-gauge moves can be carried out consecutively with no hold between them. This enables the player to "beat the enemy to the punch", allowing the player the chance to initiate a basic attack or avoidance maneuver before the enemy is able to react.

Edge and his dragon in combat. Note the combat menu on the left, the safety radar in the center and the three action gauges, one depleted, on the right.

There are numerous means of using the action gauges. First, there are two forms of basic attack: the dragon’s homing lasers or Edge’s own gun. In the first case, the dragon fires a stream of lasers that attack multiple targets regardless of player input. (If there are fewer targets than lasers, multiple lasers will strike a single target.) Edge’s gun is used for causing concentrated damage to individual targets. Unlike the laser attack, Edge’s gun can be modified through the use of items [attachments] found during the course of the game; for example, the Sniper modification increases the damage the gun causes to weak points.

There are also special moves called berserks that are comparable to the magical spells found in other RPGs. Unlike the basic moves that are initially available, the dragon will learn these as it levels up. Each use of a Berserk costs an amount of Berserk Points (BP), which may be thought of as traditional "spell points". Unlike the action gauges, BP do not recharge of their own accord (unless the dragon is in a form that allows BP regeneration, elaborated below). They must replenished through items, rest, or those Berserk moves that serve to replenish, rather than expend, BP. Some berserks are hidden in certain areas.

At the end of a battle, the player is ranked depending on how quickly and efficiently they handled it. The better the rank, the more experience points are received, eventually allowing the dragon to level up and learn new battle techniques or even evolve into a different dragon type. These evolutions are generally plot elements that occur after a critical boss battle.

Special Berserks

There are also berserks which enhance the dragon depending on its type:

Healing Wing can be used if the dragon is Normal type and all three gauges are full. Using this regenerates health.

Assault Wing can be used if the dragon is Attack type and all three gauges are full. When used the dragons laser power increases and more damage is dealt when the lasers are used.

Defense Wing can be used if the dragon is Defense type and all three gauges are full. Using this increases the dragon's defense power further for least damage.

Agility Wing can be used if the dragon is Agility type and all three gauges are full. Using this increases the speed that the action gauges charge.

Spiritual Wing can be used if the dragon is Spiritual type and all three gauges are full. Using this regenerates Berserk Points.

Morphing

As in Panzer Dragoon Zwei and Orta, the dragon has the ability to morph into different forms. However, unlike other games in the series, Saga uses a sophisticated system that allows the dragon to transform into hundreds of different forms.

The dragon has five attributes: normal, agility, spiritual, attack, and defense. The normal statistic is a balance of the four types; if all three action gauges are charged then health is regenerated. The attack statistic increases the power of the dragon's laser attack and berserks of the attack type are learned more quickly, but berserk attacks cost more BP to use and are less effective. The defense statistic decreases the amount of damage the player character receives from enemy attacks and berserks of the defense type are learned more quickly, but the action gauges charge very slowly. The spiritual statistic increases BP efficiency (berserks require less BP), allowing the dragon to slowly regenerate BP when all three action gauges are charged, and increasing the power of the dragon's berserk attacks. The agility statistic increases the speed at which action gauges recharge as well as enable the dragon to maneuver more quickly, but the character receives more damage from enemy attacks as defense power is decreased, also when all three action gauges are charged, status will become normal (if the character is poisoned or stunned). It is not possible to maximize one attribute without minimizing another, and so the player must strike a balance between them depending on the combat situation. Shifting a dragon's form also takes a gauge to perform while in battle, but the player may change a dragon's form at any time, whether on foot, flight, or in battle.

The morphing element comes from the physical change the dragon goes through in adjusting its attributes. There are four extreme forms the dragon may take, representing agility, spirit, attack, and defense. If a balance between these four extremes is selected, then the dragon takes on a physical form reflective of this balance. For example, if the player has a dragon that is high in defense and increases its agility a little, it will begin to look more agile and aerodynamic.

The dragon will also morph into different forms of its own accord as it levels up, indicating its development and growth. In addition to the forms that the dragon will transform into during the regular course of the gameplay, there are also some unique forms that can be gained through acquiring items known as D-Units.

Summary of Dragon Forms

Stat Focus Alignment Acting Gauge Effect
Balanced Healing HP Regeneration
Attack Offensive Auto Counter
Spirit Magic BP Regeneration
Defense Guard Damage Reduction
Agility Speed Instant Status Recovery

Hidden Dragon Forms

Among the regular dragon forms the player acquires during gameplay, there are two other hidden dragon forms.

Light Wing

This dragon form is acquired when all twelve of the D-Units scattered throughout the game are collected. Light Wing was designed by The Ancients as the ultimate dragon. With Light Wing the player can use all of the special berserks listed in this article under "Battle System". Also, when all three action gauges are charged the dragon regenerates health and berserk points, and status returns to normal.

Solo Wing

It is harder to obtain this dragon form than Light Wing; first, the player must get the baby coolia from Shelcoof in Georgius, and then go to the red ruins in the Forest of Zoah to obtain Solo Wing. If the Shelcoof is destroyed this becomes impossible. Unlike Light Wing, there are no gameplay benefits, but when the player morphs Solo Wing into different types, the dragon will take the form of dragons from other Panzer Dragoon games.

Development

Development for the game had begun at around the same time as its predecessor, Panzer Dragoon Zwei, and its development group started as an offshoot of that game's team. They eventually grew in number to around 40 members, twice as many as that of the team working on Panzer Dragoon Zwei, as they handled the tricky task of creating a game that was of an entirely different genre to others in the series, and yet retained the general qualities and elements of the previous installments.[2]

Like its predecessor, the 3D software Softimage was used in development, and the title remained keenly anticipated throughout its two grueling years of development, remaining amongst the top 5 most-anticipated titles on Japan's Sega Saturn Weekly magazine for almost this entire duration.[1]

Even as the Sega Saturn faltered in the console market, Team Andromeda struggled with their own difficulties in developing the game. While they appreciated the creative freedom they had in attempting to produce gameplay that was unique, there was a need to adhere somewhat to the standard conventions of the RPG genre, as well as to incorporate the aerial shooting elements of the series. Eventually, they achieved their goal as they developed a well-received battle system that utilized both turn-based and real-time combat, and allowed the player to alter the dragon and its abilities on-the-fly, as opposed to the specific evolution paths of the previous game.

Team leader Yukio Futatsugi has stated that this was done so as to allow for more combinations to compensate for the lack of characters, as most RPGs usually allow the player to control a party of several members, as opposed to the single character and his dragon in Panzer Dragoon Saga.[1]

The game also intentionally eschewed the highly populated worlds of most RPGs, as Futatsugi felt the lack of NPCs lent a sense of loneliness to the game. This is further evidenced by his statement that the game could only have been done on the Saturn, rather than the Sony PlayStation, due to the former's more somber color palette, which served to further highlight the game's desolate, post-apocalyptic atmosphere.[1]

Team Andromeda also had to deal with the tragic losses of a couple of their members during the game's development: one to a motorcycle accident, and another to suicide. (It should be noted, however, that the latter occurred during development of the game, and not, as is often rumored, due to the eventual poor sales of the game.[1])

Critical and consumer reaction

Panzer Dragoon Saga was received with unanimous praise from international gaming publications, citing its sophisticated art direction, vivid and unusual story, and its cinematic, fluid battle system as particularly noteworthy. Official Sega Saturn Magazine UK gave it a review score of 96%, and provided the entire first disc of the game with a £4.99 edition. However, the game, coming late in the Sega Saturn’s life, was released in very small quantities in the US and Europe. Only 6,000 copies were first produced for the game’s American launch in May 1998, and many retailers failed to meet pre-order demand. Sega released a second batch of 12,000 copies the following June and then another 12,000 in the late summer.

Because of the title’s limited print run, English-language copies of Panzer Dragoon Saga are, today, something of a rarity. What copies do exist tend to be recognized as valuable by their owners and, as a result, copies tend to sell for a relatively high price on eBay, often raking in over $200 US[3]. Although the game is frequently requested to be re-released on a modern format by fans, there is apparently no interest from within Sega in re-issuing it for any console whatsoever. Team leader Yukio Futatsugi has also confirmed that the original source code for the game has been lost, adding further weight to the unlikelihood of a port. There is now a demand from fans for the source code to be recovered.[1] Despite its scarcity, the game still enjoys a persistent following.

In addition to its persistent fan following, Panzer Dragoon Saga continues to be well-regarded by many critics and was featured in IGN.com's list of the top 100 games of all time in 2007.[4]

In May 2009, GameTap general manager Sene Sorrow stated they have the rights to publish the game but don't believe there is enough demand to make it a priority.[5]

Soundtrack

Fans and critics alike have noted the unique and ambient sound of the music composed by Saori Kobayashi and Mariko Nanba as one of the high points of the title.

A "Mini Album" was released prior to the official release of the game itself, a two-disc set with the first CD containing a selection of music from the game and the second disc acting as a game demo. The two-disc OST was released later with a limited print run that eventually made it difficult to obtain. It would be re-released in 2001 as "Azel: Panzer Dragoon RPG Memorial Album" with two bonus tracks remixing the ending song. However, this print run would also be limited.

While this may contribute to the perceived value that the OST and the "Memorial Album" re-release currently command on sites such as eBay, it should also be noted that the music that they contain has also met with as much acclaim as the game itself.

Much of the soundtrack was generated in-game using the Saturn version of Invision's Cybersound, as in Panzer Dragoon II Zwei.

References

External links


Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

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Panzer Dragoon Saga
Box artwork for Panzer Dragoon Saga.
Developer(s) Sega
Publisher(s) Sega
Release date(s)
Genre(s) RPG
System(s) Sega Saturn
Rating(s)
ESRB: Teen

Panzer Dragoon Saga is a critically-acclaimed role-playing video game (RPG) released exclusively for the Sega Saturn in 1998. It was the third Panzer Dragoon game to be released, and so far remains the only game in the series that is not an on-rails shooter. Like the other Panzer Dragoon games on the Saturn, it was developed by Sega's internal Team Andromeda development studio. The team disbanded after Saga’s release.

The protagonist of the story (and the character whom the player controls) is Edge, a young soldier employed by the Empire. We find him at the beginning of the story on duty protecting an excavation site where Ancient artifacts are being recovered. After helping to fend off an attack from one of the wild mutant creatures within the cave where the excavation is being made, Edge discovers what seems to be the fossil-like embodiment of a young woman buried in a wall.

Before he can react, the excavation site is suddenly attacked by a rebel faction of mutinous troops from the Empire. Craymen, the faction's leader, orders his troops to seize the girl. Edge, along with the rest of his companions, are shot. As Edge is hit, he falls from the top of the cliff where he had seen them take the girl that he had inadvertently discovered earlier. He falls some distance into an underground reservoir. To his own surprise, he is apparently unharmed and manages to locate a gun to defend himself with. Then, attempting to find a way out, Edge is intercepted by a flying dragon. The dragon seems to be communicating with him on some spiritual level and, with its help, Edge decides to take revenge and decipher the mystery of the girl Craymen has kidnapped.

Table of Contents

Getting Started
  1. Disc 1
  2. Disc 2
  3. Disc 3
  4. Disc 4
Appendices
  • Berserk Skills
  • Items
  • Enemies

Gaming

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

Panzer Dragoon Saga was released by Sega for the Saturn in 1998. The game is the third entry into Sega's Panzer Dragoon franchise, unlike the first two which were shooters however the third game in the series adds a heavy RPG element. It is an extremely rare game

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