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The History of Panzer Dragoon
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The History of Panzer Dragoon


April 16, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 8 Next
 

Panzer Dragoon Saga

All throughout the Saturn's life, the system struggled for an RPG to define it, in comparison to the alliance of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest on the PlayStation. Many fans felt GameArts' Grandia would be Sega's flagship RPG; that was later ported to the PlayStation, where it received its only release outside of Japan.

Instead, that role ended up going to Panzer Dragoon Saga, one of the last titles officially published by Sega for the system. Panzer Dragoon Saga takes the vibrant world found in the previous games and fleshes out its back story, filling four CDs worth of cinematics, and telling the story of a young dragon rider named Edge.

At the beginning, Edge is working at an excavation site for the Empire, until he's attacked by a rogue squadron of soldiers looking for a mysterious artifact. Despite being flung into a chasm, he awakens unharmed, and ends up stumbling upon a dragon, who flies him out to safety. He begins his journey to find the man who nearly killed him, a rebel soldier named Crayman, and discover the secret behind the artifact that his crew was massacred over.

During the initial attack, Edge notices a beautiful young girl frozen into the wall, much like Han Solo in carbonite. We eventually learn that she is named Azel. She's abducted by Crayman's army for reasons that are rather unclear. She later appears riding a powerful beast known as the Atolm Dragon, and immediately targets Edge as her enemy. She appears to have been brainwashed, although only Edge can set her straight before she unleashes terrible devastation upon the world.

Panzer Dragoon Saga
is unlike any other RPG for any other system. Other than Edge and his dragon, there aren't any other party members, although NPCs will occasionally hop onboard for the ride. Although there are sections where you run around on foot (mostly in the few towns throughout the world), most of the game -- both battle and exploration -- takes place riding on the back of your dragon. Unlike the on-rails action of the previous games, Saga actually lets you fly around and explore the many details areas of the Panzer Dragoon world, lending a lot more freedom to the experience.

Panzer Dragoon Saga The battle system is one of the most remarkable aspects of Panzer Dragoon Saga. The action takes place in real time, with three power bars that charge over the period of a few seconds. When a single bar charges up, you can make your move.

There are two standard attacks -- Edge's gun targets a single enemy with heavy damage, while the dragon's laser targets multiple foes with lessened damage. There are also several Berserk powers, which act as the equivalent of magic spells. If you want, you can wait to build up two or three power bars to attack multiple times at once. Certain Berserk attacks also drain multiple bars. Similarly, the enemy can attack after it's built enough energy, although you can't determine when that is.

During combat, you're positioned in one of four quadrants surrounding your enemies, and can move between them at will, although this momentarily stops the power gauge. A radar at the bottom of the screen will mark which zones are safe and which are dangerous. If you're flying in a green zone, the enemy can't attack; if you're in a neutral zone, the enemy can use a weak attack, and naturally, the red zone indicates that the enemy can use a fierce attack.

Obviously, you'll want to spend as much time as possible charging in the green zones to avoid damage. However, enemies often have weak points in other positions, encouraging you to fly in the face of danger to finish battles efficiently. The enemy's attack patterns often change multiple times during battle, forcing you to adapt and figure out the optimal positioning, timing, and type of attacks to use.

So, in other words, it's a lot more involving than the typical RPG battle, since you always need to think on your feet. You can also control the growth and powers of your dragon by tinkering with different attributes, which in turn alters your dragon. For example, you can choose to balance your attack power between Edge's gun and the dragon's laser, depending on which you use more often.

You also need to balance between defense and speed -- do you want to be able to take a pounding, or do you want your power bar to charge faster? Depending on how you choose your statistics, your dragon also gains additional powers, such as counterattacking and healing abilities. Although your level-up bonuses change depending on your dragon form, you can change them at any time, including in the middle of battle, so you can figure out what abilities work best against certain enemies.


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