#373 Panzer Dragoon Saga

Posted: 11th September 2021 by Jeroen in Goodbye
Tags: , , , ,

997th played so far

Genre: Role-Playing
Platform: Saturn
Year of Release: 1998
Developer: Team Andromeda
Publisher: Sega

Once upon a time, years ago by now, we covered Panzer Dragoon Orta, an enjoyable 3D shooter focused around flying around your enemies and shooting from all sides while you’re on a dragon. It was incredibly difficult, but clearly had some merit there.

At the time I wrote that we’re expecting Panzer Dragoon Saga to be even harder, without realizing that it’s actually an RPG of sorts. For some reason I didn’t actually playing it – I think the novelty of this type of adaptation has made me wait so I could get a surprise in. I still feel curious about it, but I’m looking forward to where we end up today.

Our Thoughts

When adapting a game like this, one of the most interesting parts is about how you integrate that other game’s mechanics. In Panzer Dragoon Saga, the reference is more than a nod – it integrates the core mechanics into its systems. While you’re not constantly moving and dodging as you shoot, for the most part you are flying on your dragon through the levels, whether they’re single canyons or large open fields, and as you fight you position yourself in front of, behind or to the side of your enemies. Each has a different risk in whether you can get attacked that depends on their attack pattern, but you need to balance this with the weak spots on those enemies. It really does feel like how a shooter would work in a turn based system, aping the Final Fantasy Active Time Battle system.

Beyond that, the dragon-born bits consist of some puzzle solving and exploring, but not too much of the story. Instead, that plays out while you’re on foot, staying at a camp or village or investigating some areas on foot. There is a lot more to investigate there, but they are clearly just for story, not too many gameplay happens in there beyond that. Not that I’d call the story that impressive – it’s a fairly standard take out the evil empire set in a (so far) fairly desolate world. The game sets you up to build relationships with several characters, but so far the interactions there didn’t seem quite as complex either.

Final Thoughts

I wasn’t overly convinced by the world Panzer Dragoon Saga creates, as it felt rather built around the game without it living, while not quite having the depth I look for in an RPG. What impressed me instead were the mechanics, with the way it integrated its shooter elements impressing even now. It’s well worth a play for that alone.