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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 8 of 8
 

Panzer Dragoon Mini

The appeal of Panzer Dragoon lies in its gorgeously detailed 3D world, something which can't exactly be replicated in the 8-bit hardware of the Game Gear. But Sega tried anyway with Panzer Dragoon Mini, parts of the "Kids Gear" line-up, which is I guess a specific line-up so children could play portable versions of the same games they watched their older brother playing.

So Panzer Dragoon Mini is a lot like Space Harrier, if Space Harrier were really boring. You control one of three dragons -- no riders -- with a behind-the-back 3D view. You shoot down enemies, then a few more appear a couple seconds later. Repeat.

There's no lock-on laser or Berserk attacks, just your regular gun. Everything is really slow, and the enemy patterns don't change much. On occasion, usually during boss battles, the camera switches to the side of the dragon, mimicing the camera rotation from the console versions. Some of the bosses do little kinda cool for the tiny system, but it's the only real positive aspect of Panzer Dragoon Mini.

There are only four stages, with a password function to skip between them. The whole game is orders of magnitude shorter than the Saturn original. This is one of the rarer Game Gear titles, released late in its life, so it's a bit rare and pricey. Don't let that trick you into thinking it's worthwhile.

Image courtesy SMS Power

Panzer Dragoon: The Anime

Panzer Dragoon got its own anime in 1996, which was translated and brought to the States by ADV Films. It's only a single episode OVA that clocks in at about twenty five minutes.

The opening sequence is pretty much like the intro to the video game, with two friends hunting for scorpions in the desert. Except our hero Kyle (mistranslated from "Keil") has a blind girlfriend named Alita, who is apparently "in tune" with the monsters or something. Anyway, an evil black dragon flies by, kills Kyle's friend, kidnaps Alita by absorbing her into its body, and takes off. Another dragon, whose rider has been killed, takes up Kyle and chases the black dragon, to not only stop it from reaching the tower, but to save Alita.

On the journey, they run into some Empire ships, which the dragon destroys despite Kyle's general anti-violence stance. They land on the ground and set up camp, finding a sole survivor amongst the wreckage. Kyle tries to comfort the Empire soldier, who then ends up turning on them.

After this needless interlude, Kyle and his dragon fly through a couple segments lifted practically straight from the game (from stages one and four -- one of the shots is a pretty clear homage) before getting to the Tower. The dragons fight, and Kyle saves Alita. Then the spirit of the dragon speaks to Kyle and convinces him to "combine forces", which allows him to throw a super hadoken or something and save the day. Then Alita gets her sight back and everyone lives happily ever after.

Panzer Dragoon Anime It's hard to develop attachment for a character in only one episode, but all Kyle seems to do is yell is his dragon for not listening and whine about saving his dear Alita.

The lackluster plot isn't saved by the visuals either. A few of the segments -- notably the intro and any shot with the Empire ships -- are rendered with computer graphics that looks reasonably like the models used in the game cutscenes. For the time, they weren't too bad, but it greatly clashes with the hand drawn characters, so it isn't even all that visually appealing.

This is all really shameful, given the richly detailed world of Panzer Dragoon, which could have been brought to life if more time and talent had been capitalized on. The action scenes aren't that particularly good either. Similarly, the music is lacking -- the main theme seems to borrow a bit from the Saturn game, but most of the soundtrack is rather lousy.

The End of Panzer Dragoon?

Team Andromeda was dismantled after Panzer Dragoon Saga, with its members scattered to different parts of Sega -- and elsewhere, in the case of lead Yukio Futatsugi, who went to Microsoft Game Studios and eventually founded his own studio. Some were reassembled into Smilebit, another internal development team at Sega, for the production of Orta, but Sega ended its teams' autonomy once it merged with Sammy.

It seems unlikely that the world will see another Panzer Dragoon, despite how loudly fans voices cry for a remake or Panzer Dragoon Saga. However, the spirit lives on in other games, such as Sega's own cult classic Rez, which utilizes nearly the same play mechanics as Panzer Dragoon.

Links

Panzer Dragoon Retrospective at 1UP

Panzer Dragoon Retrospective at Gamespot

Panzer Dragoon Fansite

The Art of Panzer Dragoon

GameSetWatch - Collector's Melancholy

Panzer Dragoon anime review, at Anime Jump


Article Start Previous Page 8 of 8

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