Forgotten dragon-borne RPG.
The Sega Saturn was home to many amazing and unique wonders, and one franchise that stood out was the Panzer Dragoon games. The third game in the series is the odd one out compared to its siblings, with the first, second and forth game all being rail shooters, but Saga took a very RPG approach.
The lore surrounding the Panzer Dragoon game had never really been touched upon in great detail before, so making a new entry with RPG elements delivered more ways to tell a story (not to mention the secrets you can uncover throughout your adventure – piecing together what you learned to form the story on your own. Respect was given to the player in that regard).
You play as Edge, an innocent worker who just so happens to get dragged into something way bigger than himself. At some point you encounter a dragon, who takes a liking to you. This dragon will be your companion through the entire game, you will learn his power and make him grow into a powerful beast. This RPG is no different with the levelling system – you fight monsters to gain experience that will later allow your dragon to level up, and the more levels he gains the more he will evolve into a mightier force of nature.
The battle system in the game will be familiar to Final Fantasy players, where the enemy can attack you while you are making your decision, and you can fly around your foe to find a weak point and to avoid massive damage. Some fights get very intense as you must sometimes plan three or four moves ahead.
While you are not fighting, you will either be flying on your dragon’s back to different locations or visiting camps and villages. Whilst flying you can interact with the environment unlocking different pathways and perhaps some hidden relics that will aid in your quests. You also encounter enemies in flight mode, so make sure you have plenty of supplies before you set out, as some quests can take up to an hour to complete. When moving on the ground, you may visit other camps or villages – it’s your standard affair of walking around, talking to everyone, checking every object in case it’s important. Your classic RPG style of moving the game forward.
How the world is designed and the layout is incredible, it’s nothing like anything else I’ve ever seen in any other form of media. Everything from the machines to the creatures is so unique. I cannot describe to you what they remind me of because there is nothing else, they are their own thing, which is absolutely outstanding, very impressive.
All aspects in the game have been cared for so well. Despite the graphical limitation, they managed to fit so much detail into it and because of that, it’ll have its own signature until the end of time.
I would adore it, if the Panzer Dragoon series had a re-release on modern consoles, I want to see the world play what only a small portion got to play in the late ’90s! A great story, great combat, great atmosphere and great detail. I believe that Panzer Dragoon Saga is a true Lost Gem.
By Casey Fedorowicz
A later installment from the series – Panzer Dragoon: Orta, is available for XBox on Amazon: Panzer Dragoon Orta