Wondeful and atmospheric 3D on-rails shooter

User Rating: 9.2 | Panzer Dragoon SAT
Panzer Dragoon was a new series that Sega (Team Andromeda to be specific) created for release on the Sega Saturn console. As one of the systems’ earliest games, it provided the best example at the time of the impact on the senses that could be achieved with the jump in processing power. More importantly however, Panzer Dragoon introduced a wonderful new and highly atmospheric gaming world to absorb. The game itself is a fairly straightforward on-rails 3D shooter, and shares many of the same game-related qualities (Blast everything in sight, intensive sequences) as its’ 2D counterparts within the genre. Panzer Dragoon does implement a much more robust background story into the mix; these are told through extremely well-orchestrated cut-scenes that are still amazing to observe to this day. The best loose comparison to Panzer Dragoon would be a modern and expanded take on the Sega arcade game Space Harrier due to the stylistic similarities and also because the game-play is comparable.

Game-play/Play-mechanics: Very easy to get acclimated to, basically you are a young man riding around on a flying dragon. The player is able to shoot direct fire from the mans’ gun and in addition lock on to targets and fire a barrage of homing lasers courtesy of the dragon; after a while a bar at the bottom of the screen will fill up and then you have the ability to shoot a extended flurry of sporadic laser fire, a typical super-attack. That’s pretty much it, no upgrading weaponry (Though there are some codes to use alternate weapons) of switching of weapons here and it is not really needed. The control is very tight overall and becomes second nature before too long. Panzer Dragoon is an on-rails shooter but with some minor 3D game-play elements present, the ability to turn and fire in any direction is the main component here, there is a radar feature to assist with detecting incoming enemies. Playing the game provides a huge rush as there is a lot of intense action on-screen much of the time; this is contrasted with moments of atmospheric ambiance which truly defines Panzer Dragoon as a special game and franchise. This game is pretty challenging, for the later levels in particular, above average difficulty for a shooter I would say, the game is good enough to demand repeated attempts at successful completion fortunately, the stiff challenge present here was reduced for the sequels.

Visuals/Artwork: Absolutely gorgeous in both respects, the areas are varied and all very enjoyable to traverse and absorb, the full montage of environments are on display here. The bosses are absolutely huge and provide big-time impact, the sand-worm segment on Stage 2 (Not even a boss) totally blew me away and still does more-so than almost any gaming segments in modern times; the intensive flurry of events for during Stage 4 is also very notable, as the passive beauty of Stage 1. The artwork and character design is really inspirational; you will most likely have very fond recollections of this aspect of the game long after completion.

Music/Sound: The music has a nice range from soothing ambiance to thunderous symphony, whatever happens to be appropriate to complement the games’ segments; definitely high-end compositions. The sound-effects are very good at adding to the immersive experience of the game, the various dragon related effects are good in particular. Overall the music and sound are a very important aspect of the overall package. Well done!