Panzer Dragoon Series is a series of video games by SEGA, created first by its internal Team Andromeda and later, the Smilebit development team. Aside from the RPG 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 games are notable for using their own language — "Panzerese", consisting of a mixture of Ancient Greek, Latin and Russian language. 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 SeriesEdit
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 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 planet.
This first game in the series was released on the Sega Saturn in 1995, and later released on PC Windows. 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 would introduce the basic features of the traditional gameplay that the Panzer series would be known by, starting out as a Rail Shooters giving the player a choice of two main offences: 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 accelerated, surprise launch.
Panzer Dragoon ZweiEdit
Panzer Dragoon Zwei (also known as Panzer Dragoon II) was released for the Sega Saturn in 1996. This game is a prequel to Panzer Dragoon. It followed 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 that gives them the ability to unleash a powerful attack. It also introduced the ability to choose multiple routes through levels, and these routes could cause the dragon to change shape, and alter the ending depending on the player's choices.
Panzer Dragoon SagaEdit
Panzer Dragoon Saga (known as Azel: Panzer Dragoon RPG in Japan) is the sole RPG in the series, released for the Sega Saturn in 1998. Edge is a guard at an excavation site of the Empire, and while fending off an attack from a monster, encounters a girl embedded within a wall. The site is then attacked by the traitor, Craymen, who murders Edge's companions and takes the girl, still a part of the wall and asleep. Edge is attacked by one of Craymen's henchmen and falls into a deep pit, splashing into the reservoir deep below the surface. There, he encounters a dragon and begins his quest for vengeance...and to discover the truth behind the girl that was found ….
Panzer Dragoon Saga was developed as an RPG, and not a Rail Shooters. It translated the Panzer Dragoon game's shooting features into an RPG battle system and greatly expanded the world the player could explore. The player's experience of the game was greatly enhanced by the distinctive soundtrack throughout the game.
Due to its release towards the end of the lifespan of the Sega Saturn, very few U.S. copies (6,000) were initially produced for its launch in May 1998. US game magazines such as EGM gave the title rave reviews and Saturn owners preordered the game in decent numbers. As a result, a shortage of the game was apparent from the release with many stores unable to meet their preorders for the title. Almost a month later in June, Sega released a second batch of 12,000 copies to meet demand, and then later in the Summer another batch of 12,000 copies reached the market. Sega went as far as to have a small advertising campaign in various print magazines using a cut-out Edge face mask to promote the new shipments of the game.
Panzer Dragoon OrtaEdit
Panzer Dragoon Orta is an Xbox game, released in late 2002 in Japan and in early 2003 in America and Europe. It was the first game in the series that was not developed directly by Team Andromeda; rather, it was developed by Smilebit which had been founded by former members of Team Andromeda.
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 Abbad. 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 is unique (especially amongst rail shooters) in that there is a veritable treasure trove of unlockable content to be gained after completing the main story. These unlockables included:
- A group of sub-missions, one series of which is devoted to the story of Iva Demilcol. Iva is an Imperial child whose father is rumored to have been killed during a raid on the Empire's gunships by Orta and her dragon and Iva's subsequent mission leads him to seek revenge. This gives the player a curiously sympathetic look at the Empire, which is otherwise portrayed as the stereotypical evil ruling power of the world demonstrating that Imperial citizens were just as afraid of the Dragon's awesome power and its "Arrows of Light" as the dragon's riders have been of the Empire's war machines.
- "Box Game", a bonus mode first introduced in Zwei where the player can select different dragons, riders, and various cheats to custom-tailor their game experience; primary story cutscenes are disabled in this mode, since the player may not necessarily be using Orta or the default dragon.
- The PC version of the first Panzer Dragoon is included in its unaltered entirety for play.
- A vast in-game dictionary that updates itself as you progress through stages, detailing the intricacies of the Panzer world.
- Full-motion video from Panzer Dragoon Orta itself is unlocked for casual viewing, as well as the intro and ending videos from Ein, Zwei and Saga. The ending movie to Panzer Dragoon Zwei was slightly altered to better tie it in with Panzer Dragoon Saga.
Panzer Dragoon MiniEdit
Panzer Dragoon Mini was a Sega Game Gear game, released in 1996. Due to the technical limitations of the Game Gear, it plays closer to the classic Sega arcade game Space Harrier; also, for the first and — so far — only time in the series' history, the dragon doesn't have a rider. With its lack of story and the dragon's super deformed appearance, this game's events aren't considered to be canon.
Panzer Dragoon R-zoneEdit
Panzer Dragoon R-zone was a R-Zone game for the short lived system. It was one of the few launch titles made by Sega. It had no plot, simply a nameless character in an armored dragon attempting to keep a dark dragon from reaching a tower while shooting and dodging robots.
- The Will of the Ancients A Panzer Dragoon fansite with community forums
- Lagi: The Art of Panzer Dragoon A collection of images from the Panzer Dragoon series
- The Panzer Place Information about the three Saturn Panzer Dragoon games
- Panzer Dragoon Academy One of the largest Japanese Panzer Dragoon fansites.
- The History of Panzer Dragoon