Panzer Dragoon Saga

You don’t know it, but you are intensely jealous of me. It’s not my staggering intellect, winning looks, prowess as a lover or my charming wit but it’s something I bought many years ago. When I was youthful and innocent to the cruelties of the world I wandered into a game store and purchased a game. Not unusual I know, but the year was 1998 and I acquired Panzer Dragoon Saga for the Sega Saturn.


Whilst those of you in the know are given smelling salts I will inform the uneducated. The Panzer Dragoon series is a well respected group of rail shooters which span the Saturn’s lifespan and made a critically acclaimed entry on the Xbox with Panzer Dragoon Orta. The third entry in the series split from convention and was an RPG which blended semi real time battling with exploration and a deep levelling system for both you and your dragon companion. The game further leapt from convention by taking a very unique style, distant from the vibrant Japanese RPG of the day. Sombre colour pallets, musical choices and desolate town areas all gave the game a lonely edge and strengthened the bond of you and your dragon. This combined with a somewhat abstract story and setting gave a delicious art house feel to the game and backed by strong gameplay gave me hours and hours of enjoyment back in the day. Truly one of gaming’s high moments, a point where people can point and say that it was one of those moments where everything came together to make art and not entertainment.

It therefore carries that a gaming connoisseur such as myself would own such a notable game, so why did we have fainting readers at the beginning? Well despite being such a great title Panzer Dragoon Saga is as troubled as Britney. To begin with development was tough going for the developers Team Andromeda. During the gruelling two and a half year development cycle two team members sadly lost their lives to suicide and an automotive accident. azel-transformProfessionally the development team worked the decline of the Saturn as a platform as Sony tightened their grip on the console market. It became clear as development progressed that the game would simply never be able to garner the sales it warranted, yet development progressed with Sega granting the freedom to make a truly different title to the studio. As the shape of gaming changed so did the arena Panzer Dragoon Saga entered. Launch saw uniformly high praise, the kind reserved for the truly great games of the generation yet launch also saw an astonishingly low production run. Only twenty thousand copies ever made it onto US shelves with a rumoured half of that hitting Europe, a regular occurrence for the final days of the Saturn but sad that it should clip the wings of such an accomplished game. Today it can be seen fetching high prices on eBay yet I fear it’s for collection sake and not for the quality of the game.

Alas my story does not get happier. In today’s era of remakes of classic games, memories from childhood pressed onto Blu-Ray and delivered to your house for ยฃ44.99 the obvious hope is that Panzer Dragoon Saga would reappear custom built for the HDTV era and ready to wow a new generation. However Sega has stated it has no plans to re-release it on any format. A knock which is turned into a finishing blow when director Yukio Futatsugi revealed to that the original source code was in fact lost by Sega, meaning that any hopes of a remake is surely dead. Crushing news as it’s the best game you’ve never played. It’s artistic, deep, engrossing, unique and highly playable. In a fleeting moment it’s everything Sega and Japanese game development ever was and is when it worked, and the fact 99% of people will never play it is an absolute abomination.







9 responses to “Panzer Dragoon Saga”

  1. van-fu avatar

    I’ve played it. I loved it. And I can testify it is a great game.

  2. John.B avatar

    Van, you are genuinely the first person I’ve ever met who has played it.

  3. Darach avatar

    Very cool. ๐Ÿ™‚
    And I’m only ‘quite’ jealous. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Not jealous enough to kidnap you and raid your house in the fashion of a grand heist, but jealous all the same ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. xJDLx Vendetta avatar
    xJDLx Vendetta

    I’ve played it also, i played a demo first with a Saturn mag, and then through sonic the comic found out the realease date. One of the first games i ever bought out of my own money! I loved it!

  5. Van-Fu avatar

    I bought it for my Xbox. And I bought it for my brother in Uganda as well. He liked it, but he got to play Halo for the first time with the consignment of goodies, so I think that Panzer Dragoon Orta didn’t get appreciated as much as it could have.

  6. Gene avatar

    I just started playing PDS. This post spurred me to action. Hooray for the magic of emulation!

  7. Brian avatar

    I picked this up on launch for ยฃ25 (it probably helped I was a manged at an EB store at the time – so could get my hands on it!), the game is fantastic, holding up the series history of amazing looking fmv section, but with a really amazing story tied in as well.

    The ending is one of the wirdest ones I have ever seen (spoiler alert!) when the game starts to talk to you by name it did freak me out a bit!

  8. Lorna avatar

    Scary to think that source code for a classic game can simply be ‘lost’! I thought shit like that only happened in TV land, as with the Beeb erasing classic shows. ๐Ÿ™

  9. Chris D avatar
    Chris D

    Maybe I’m being judgemental because of the woeful Sonic series but shouldn’t we be a little glad that Sega won’t manage to rape more childhood memories?

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