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|Genre(s)||Rail shooter, role-playing|
|Platform(s)||Game Gear, Tiger R-Zone, Sega Saturn, Windows, Xbox|
|Platform(s) of origin||Sega Saturn|
|Year of inception||1995|
|First release||Panzer Dragoon|
March 10, 1995
|Latest release||Panzer Dragoon Orta|
December 19, 2002
Panzer Dragoon is a series of video games by Sega, created first by its internal Team Andromeda and later, the Smilebit development team. Aside from the role-playing video game Panzer Dragoon Saga, the games are of the rail shooter genre. All games follow the story of a lone hero or heroine fighting an evil empire in a post apocalyptic world, while riding a Dragon.
The series' name originates from its original concept designers referring to it as "armoured dragon", then feeling that this was too bland and deciding to transliterate it to German. The series's cutscenes feature its own language "Panzerese", which is based on Ancient Greek, Latin and Russian. Words in these languages were a hobby of Yukio Futatsugi, one of the core designers of the first game. This pseudo-language is used during cutscenes (in a manner similar to the 'Cityspeak' in the film Blade Runner or Simlish from The Sims). Panzer Dragoon Saga features Panzerese only in its opening and ending cutscenes.
The Panzer Dragoon series takes place on an unspecified post-apocalyptic planet where the people compete for land, resources, and the 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 Dragoon series of games. The Ancients were able to create monsters either for war use or practical uses.
These creatures survived the downfall of the Ancients and are one of the main enemies in the series. 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. A faction called The Empire have collected and used weapons from the Ancient Age to gain dominance of the continent.
Panzer Dragoon (1995)
The first game in the series, Panzer Dragoon, was released on the Sega Saturn in 1995. It follows the story of Keil Fluge, a member of a hunter party who encounters a fight between two dragons, coloured black and blue. The rider of the blue dragon is mortally wounded in the battle and entrusts his mission, as well as his dragon, the Solo Wing, to Keil. Keil must stop the Dark Dragon reactivating an ancient ruin.
This chapter introduced the basic features of the traditional gameplay that the Panzer series would be known by, starting out as a rail shooter giving the player a choice of two main attacks: a lock-on laser weapon, and a rapid fire gun weapon, as well as the ability to swing the cameras around to shoot the enemies coming from all directions.
Panzer Dragoon was one of the few games available at the Sega Saturn's launch.
Panzer Dragoon R-zone (1995)
Panzer Dragoon R-zone is a Tiger R-Zone game for the short-lived system. It was one of the few launch titles licensed by Sega, being released just a few months after the original Panzer Dragoon. It was the first game in the series that was not developed by Team Andromeda. There is no plot, simply a nameless character on an armored dragon attempting to keep a dark dragon from reaching a tower while shooting and dodging robots.
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei (1996)
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei (also known as Panzer Dragoon II) was released for the Sega Saturn in 1996. This game is a prequel to Panzer Dragoon. It follows the story of Jean-Luc Lundi who discovered a mutant coolia, whom he names Lagi, who has a green glow at its throat, and is growing wings. Lundi refuses to kill Lagi, defying his villages custom that mutant coolias be killed. Together, Lundi and Lagi ride towards the horizon, chasing after a great airship called the Shelcoof, which is responsible for destroying Lundi's village while he was away.
This game introduced the berserk ability, where the player builds up a bar and then can unleash a powerful attack. It also introduced multiple routes through levels, and the dragon's capacity to change shape when the player performed well in a level.
Panzer Dragoon Mini (1996)
Panzer Dragoon Mini is a Sega Game Gear game released only in Japan, in 1996. Due to the technical limitations of the Game Gear, the camera cannot be controlled and instead rotates automatically; also, for the first and — so far — only time in the series' history, the dragon doesn't have a rider. The game is markedly different from others in the series due to lack of a story and the dragon's super deformed appearance. Most of the levels and enemies are modeled after those of Panzer Dragoon Zwei.
Panzer Dragoon Saga (1998)
Panzer Dragoon Saga (titled Azel: Panzer Dragoon RPG in Japan) is a role-playing video game released for Saturn in 1998. It is the only Panzer Dragoon game that is not a rail shooter, combining traditional role-playing elements such as random encounters with the 3D shooting elements of previous games. The player controls Edge, a young mercenary who battles the empire on a flying dragon and encounters a mysterious girl from a vanished civilization. Unlike the other Panzer Dragoon games, movement is not on rails and some areas are explored on foot. The battle system mixes real-time and turn-based elements, with the player circling enemies on the dragon to expose weak spots and escape dangerous positions.
Development of Panzer Dragoon Saga began around the same time as Panzer Dragoon II Zwei. According to director Yukio Futatsugi, the need to blend the series' shooting elements into an RPG with full 3D and voice acting - both unusual for RPGs at the time - made it the most difficult Panzer Dragoon game to develop. Two staff members died during its two-year development, which Futatsugi attributed to the stressful working conditions of the video game industry.
According to GameRankings, Panzer Dragoon Saga is the most critically acclaimed Saturn game, winning praise for its story, graphics, music, and unusual battle system. It has appeared in several "greatest games of all time" lists. As Sega had shifted its focus to its next console, the Dreamcast, the game had a limited release outside Japan, attracting a cult following. It has not been rereleased and is now a rare collector's item. After its release, Sega disbanded Team Andromeda; Futatsugi left Sega and joined Konami, while other staff moved to Sega teams including Smilebit.
Panzer Dragoon Orta (2002)
Panzer Dragoon Orta follows the story of Orta, a teenage girl being held captive in a town. When the town is attacked by the Empire, Orta is rescued by a Dragon, and encounters a drone named Abadd. While tracking the drone, she discovers the truth behind her own origins, and helps to free the world from the tyranny of the Empire. This game introduced several updated features, such as the ability to morph the dragon at will, and maneuvering abilities from Panzer Dragoon Saga.
This game had large amounts of unlockable content to be gained after completing the main story. These include a group of sub-missions, one series of which is devoted to the backstory of Iva Demilcol. The "Box Game" is a bonus mode first introduced in Zwei where the player can select different dragons, riders, and various cheats. The PC version of the first Panzer Dragoon is included in its entirety.
The game also possesses a vast in-game dictionary that updates as you progress, detailing the Panzer world, and full-motion video from the game itself is unlocked for casual viewing, as well as the intro and ending videos from Panzer Dragoon, Panzer Dragoon Zwei and Panzer Dragoon Saga.
Soundtrack CDs were released in Japan for all the games, with Panzer Dragoon Orta's being bundled with the game itself. Toykopop released the Panzer Dragoon Orta soundtrack in the USA. An anime adaptation of the first game was released, with the story being slightly altered to include a female heroine whom Keil ('Kyle' in the anime) is trying to save when she becomes bonded to the Black Dragon. The English version was released by ADV Films. An artbook from the second game, Die Welt Von Panzer Dragoon Zwei (The World of Panzer Dragoon Zwei) was also released.
There was also a song that was not included in the soundtrack but was on the US version's TV commercial. It is "Violet" performed by Bones Domingo.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed features a racetrack based on Panzer Dragoon. Additionally, the Worlds Unite crossover between the Sonic the Hedgehog and the Mega Man comic lines from Archie Comics features Panzer Dragoon characters and concepts.
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